Our world thrives on renewal. The flux of seasons brings about natural rebirth. The start of a new school year guides us through a transition where we can once again have a fresh beginning. Forest fires are the catalyst for the eventual re-growth of an ecosystem. Divorce or death of a spouse or partner forces us to pick up the pieces and move on.
As writers we can enjoy our own renaissance. Every time we sit down to put our thoughts into words, we create a new world. When we revise, we are able to start over sometimes. I recently had the pleasure of meeting young adult author Maggie Stiefvater at the Barnes & Noble in my city. She spoke about writing Forever, the sequel to Linger and the final title in her Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy. Stiefvater related how, two weeks before her deadline, she finished a draft of the book, but told her editor she was throwing it in the trash and starting over.
Starting over. A chance to put our past behind us and begin again. The opportunity to create a life we want to live. The gift of being able to give life to new characters, or new life to old characters, again and again.
We are fortunate to have so many starting-over points in our lives. Here are some ideas for incorporating these breaks into your writing life.
1. September: We grew up starting a new school year in or near the start of September. Begin writing a new story on September 1st and commit to having it finished by the next school break.
2. The Holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hannukah, and Kwanza are all ripe with story ideas. Start a new story, or write a holiday scene in an existing story. Have this scene be a moment of change for your character.
3. Happy New Year: Many people resolve to change something about their lives. Sometimes they keep these promises and sometimes not. Keep a promise to yourself that you will begin a new story today. Or plan your writing life for the year, or decide to begin writing on this day.
4. Spring: The epitome of re-birth and re-growth. How will you recreate yourself or your writing life? Have your character give birth, plant a garden, paint a picture, or adopt a pet. Maybe your protagonist sees the light and offers forgiveness. Perhaps they take other drastic steps to leave their old life behind.
Can you think of other ways to find natural breaks in your life and schedule your writing to coincide? Let me know your thoughts.