Looking Back on 2022: 5 Reflections on a Year of Healing

For the past five years or so, I have opened every new year with a post looking back on the lessons I have learned in the previous year. What began as just another idea for a blog post has become one of my most treasured rituals. Every year when I sit down to write this post, I enjoy looking back over the previous twelve months and taking the opportunity to share the highlights (and sometimes the lowlights) with all of you. And every year, I wonder, What will I write in next year’s post?

For all of us, these last few years have been intense. For me, the intensity really began several years before the pandemic in 2016. When I turned thirty a few months earlier, someone told me to enjoy it—that one’s thirties are potentially the best decade. So far, my thirties have not exactly disproven that idea, but they certainly didn’t turn out how I thought. The past seven years have been unrelentingly amazing, unexpected, enlightening, liberating, and transformative—but also beyond difficult, sad, lonely, terrifying, and often bewildering. Someday, I may talk more about what happened, but for now it is an explanation that involves the privacy of too many people whose relationships and feelings I value. (But I will say that whatever you’re thinking it might be, you’re probably wrong.) Suffice it that certain life circumstances finally became untenable, and when they did, the bottom fell out of my world. I felt unmoored, as if I had lost all context, and for a long while, it felt as if I had nothing to hang onto. I moved to another state to be closer to my sister, and for the first time in my life, I lived alone. As it turns out, loneliness and existential crises don’t make for happy bedfellows. (And then 2020 happened!)

Perhaps most difficult of all, I seemed to lose my connection to my stories. In 2021, I gave myself permission to take a year off, and I called it the Year of No Writing, or the Year of Rest. In 2021, I also decided I needed to move again (so not so very restful on that front!). Originally, the plan was to stop off with my parents for a few months, then leave the majority of my furniture and other possessions with them before going on to a new adventure on the West Coast. Well, life happened, and the move did not materialize. I ended up spending the entire year (and counting) with my parents, tossed about by the frustrating housing market and my own indecision about where I want to settle longterm.

However, despite my nearly daily struggle with my own impatience and frustration about my unresolved living circumstances, I can honestly look back at this year and see that it was perfect. It was, after six difficult years, a respite. My generous and loving parents gave me a haven in which to rest, where I could integrate the monumental lessons I have learned and to heal. I am incredibly grateful to now look back and to be able to say that this year was a Year of Healing.

5 Gifts From a Year of Healing

In trying to synthesize all the many gifts and lessons I was given this year, I narrowed them down to five areas of my life that have found deep and permanent (if inevitably ongoing) healing. I share them with you now, as we crest the horizon into a brave new year, in hopes that you may find some of my experiences healing or inspiring in your own journey.

1. Healing My Body

I’m a believer in holistic health. Everything is connected. The body, the mind, the heart, the soul. If one is out of order, they all are. The good news there is that if we bring healing to one area, we’re inevitably bringing healing to all of them. And my body has been in need of some healing. I spent a ton of time and money this year working through physical health problems. All were relatively minor, but all were chronic and impacting my life.

For one thing, I made the rounds of physical therapists, chiropractors, acupuncturists, and massage therapists, among others, trying to find relief for what I thought was a damaged disc in my low back. My massage therapist finally turned me on to a physical therapist who said it wasn’t a disc issue but rather something along of the lines of piriformis syndrome. He did dry needling (totally not as scary as it sounds), which finally broke the cycle of nearly a year of sleepless nights from sciatica.

Yoga has been a part of my healing ever since a chiropractor pointed me to it in in 2019. I went in hopes of easing my back pain, but the minute I got on the mat the first time, I was astounded by how good it made me feel emotionally. More than any other tool, it has taught me to be in my body, to be present with what is, and to process my emotions. I am not even kidding when I say my emotional intelligence has jumped astronomically since I began the practice.

On top of that, I got even more serious about my diet. After learning that heavy metals can cause a host of mental health challenges, I realized I could trace certain issues in my life back to severe reaction I’d had after breaking a CFL lightbulb while filming a video. (PSA: CFL light bulbs—the curly ones—have mercury in them and should not be cleaned up like you would a normal light bulb). I’ve always been conscious about my diet, but this year I gave up sugar and caffeine and took long breaks from dairy and wheat, while doing a heavy-metal cleanse.

And… I feel better. On the whole, both my body and my mental/emotional health have started feeling markedly more stable and healthy than they have in years.

2. Healing My Relationship With My Business

Ever since things got rough in 2016, I have struggled with my relationship with my business. Although not directly related to what happened, my approach to my work had been growing increasingly unsustainable for many years. Way back then, I was already writing about my changing relationship to my creativity. In the years prior, several stressful experiences had robbed much of the joy from my business life and replaced it with toxic anxiety.

For a long time, I avoided even thinking about these experiences because they were painful enough to spiral me into panic attacks. But at the beginning of last year, I knew I had mustered enough resources to start gently working on healing my relationship with my business. Primarily, this involved retraining my nervous system’s responses to hold space for the things that had previously scared or triggered my body into survival mode.

Twenty minutes of daily meditation has become a cornerstone of my self-care routine. This year, I added in what was, for me, a powerful safety visualization, envisioning shields of protection around myself, my home, my loved ones, and my work online and in books. I also worked with “tapping in” affirmations (there’s a whole science behind this, but I just picked it up somewhere, so I can’t explain it; however, this book, which I have not read but have on my TBR list, might be a good further resource for those interested).

As I mentioned in last year’s post about dealing with negative reviews, probably the most helpful exercise was that of daily holding my forehead (frontal lobes) while revisiting triggering situations in my mind. The idea, as I understand it, is that this helps keep blood in your forebrain, signaling to your body that, even though it is thinking about (or in certain situations, experiencing) something it previously deemed scary, it is, in fact, safe and does not need to go into flight or fight mode. I was super-skeptical the first time I tried it. If I mentally revisited these things that usually triggered me, would I be messing up my whole day? But… it worked. I was able to gingerly open the door to memories I never let myself consciously visit, to hold space for them without my body freaking out, and to let them go when I was done. For me, that was a huge breakthrough.

As the months went on, I began to feel my relationship with my business start to heal. I began to stop expecting triggers around every corner, began to heal my relationship with my own inner critic who always insisted on making space for other people’s opinions whether they were harmful to me or not, and began to revitalize my interest and passion in my teaching work. For the first time in years, ideas for new projects started to bloom. You can stay tuned for those (perhaps later this year, but perhaps not, because I have learned that these things have their own schedule and I now try my best to honor that)!

3. Healing My Relationship With Myself

The vast majority of the growth and healing work I have done in these past years has been in my relationship with myself. When the context provided by other people suddenly falls away and you are left to define yourself not by your relationships or by other people’s opinions of you, all you are left with is… yourself.

Particularly as someone who identifies as an Enneagram Three (sp-sx-so), I have done much work around realizing I am not what I do, nor am I the persona my ego presents to the world. So… who am I? It’s an ongoing question that is slowly being answered simply by getting to know myself more deeply and honestly than I ever have. It has been sobering, saddening, and ultimately in its own way thrilling, to realize I spent the first three decades of my life trying to be someone I was not. A tough-as-nails INTJ who never cried, was never afraid, never fazed, always smart, always self-reliant, always competent? Nah. I cry all the time now. It’s a revelation. (Although I’m still an INTJ…)

I have spent these years digging my many weaknesses, fears, ignorances, dependencies, and incompetencies out of the shadows of my subconscious. Honestly, I’m such a mess now compared to the person I always thought I was! But I love this person so much more. I love her realness, her vulnerability, her compassion, her doubt, her love.

Recognizing that I am not just an introvert but also an HSP (highly sensitive person) and what that means has been radical in helping me reframe so many of things I’ve always struggled with and/or tried to make “wrong” about myself: my overwhelm in busy social spaces, how exhausting travelling is for me, the time and the energy it takes to deeply process anything, the absolute necessity of a steady daily routine, even my tendency to get ferociously “hangry.”

I am learning, more and more, to trust myself. As with so many of us, my childhood trained me to distrust myself (especially as a woman) in favor of others who “knew better.” Learning that not only can I trust myself, but that, in fact, I am eminently trustworthy in my own intuitions, observations, conclusions, instincts, and intentions is an ongoing process of reconditioning. It is carried out with necessary patience and my often wobbly skill of listening to myself—giving myself the space to live the question, to not know the answer for a while, or to accept that at the moment the answer might simply be… wait.

I have combined this growing awareness with another transformative daily meditation exercise. This one has to do with consciously feeling certain emotions or states in my body. Every day, I work with love, gratitude, joy, abundance, acceptance, and compassion. The first time I did the exercise, I tried to recreate each of these states and to feel where and how I experienced them in my body. For example, not surprisingly, I feel love in my heart area, and joy shoots up my spine and out the top of my head. I am aware of abundance in the palms of my hands, rolling in and out like an ocean, flowing out of me to others but always coming back. Everyone is different, but once I identified how I feel these things in my body, I was able to return to them consciously and make sure I was interacting with and cultivating these feelings every single day. They come easier and easier.

4. Healing My Perspectives

I am a storyteller. I tell stories about everything—not just about damsels and dragons, but about myself, about others, about the world, about life. None of those stories is entirely true; they’re all just my own subjective perspectives. But the best of them are, like good books, “the lie that tells the truth.” I have been learning, more and more, to hone those truths.

Much of my growth in my thirties has been about figuring out what it is I want. Not what others want for me. Not what I think I’m supposed to want. Not even what I want to want. But what I want. Do I want to write fiction again? Do I want to live here, there, or the other place? Do I want to move to the city or stay in the country? Do I want more people in my life or fewer? Do I want to wear the blue sweater or the purple one? Do I want to read this book or that one? Do I want chicken for supper or an apple (it’s getting close to hangry o’clock around here!)?

I took these questions for granted for far too long, but no longer. Now, I try to pay attention. What do I want? Beneath all the logical chatter of my very helpful brain, what does wanting feel like in my body? Where does the want feel like a truth—and where does it just feel like the path of least resistance?

Getting honest about my own desires has meant getting more and more honest about who I really am. Who I really am. Not the perfect platinum version of myself that I envision, but the real me, flaws and all. One thing I realized just this week is that knowing who I am means accepting who I was—the person who got me here. The one who did so much hard work and accomplished so many fantastic things. But also the one who made every single mistake.

From there, I have been learning to fall in love with myself and everything around me exactly as they are. I am slowly learning to tell new stories. Instead of stories that frame the adventure that is my life in light of its uncertainties and wobbly bits, I am learning to tell stories that are more about possibilities. I am learning to face and embrace the parts of me that I am embarrassed by or ashamed of, and to have compassion for the (usually really sound) reasons why I made certain choices at the times I made them.

5. Healing My Storytelling

Dreamlander NIEA Finalist

Dreamlander (Amazon affiliate link)

I have written elsewhere about my lengthy burnout and writer’s block. Although the engine of my creativity had been sputtering for several years previous, it all started for real in the winter of  2018—prompted in part by my traumatic move and fatally exacerbated by the massive plot block I was encountering in trying to outline the third book in what I intended to be my Dreamlander trilogy. No matter how much I needed and wanted to write, there was a part of me that just… couldn’t.

Finally, by the beginning of 2021, I knew I had to make a decision. I could no longer keep trying to force my way back to my writing. I had to take a conscious break. I gave myself permission to not even think about writing for a whole year. I called 2021 the Year of No Writing, or the Year of Rest. When the year closed out and I wrote last year’s New Year post, I still wasn’t sure if that year off had been enough.

So I kept putting everything I’ve been learning into practice, and I listened to myself. I listened to the clear message that I still wasn’t ready to write when the calendar turned over into January 2022. February went by, March, April, May, June. Something flickered to life in the summer, and I gingerly returned to my WIP to see if the gift of time and space would offer me a solution to my plot block. It did. I figured out how to fix my broken third book… but doing so would require an entire rewrite of the previously finished second book. I put it back on the shelf.

Wayfarer 165 Weiland

Wayfarer (Amazon affiliate link)

More months ticked by. Inside, I wrestled with myself. I grew impatient. But I could feel something rising inside of me, something I had not felt for a long time—the desire to write. But write what? Returning to the Dreamlander sequels felt like asking for burnout all over again. So I toyed with several other ideas. Maybe I’d do something totally different and write a memoir. Maybe I’d write a brand new idea that had come to me recently. Or maybe I’d write a Wayfarer sequel. Still, I couldn’t quite make anything happen.

In the old days, I used to write in the late afternoons, from 4–6. In the new days, I was feeling pretty braindead (and maybe a bit hangry?) by late afternoon. But I couldn’t figure out where else to carve out enough time to write without it feeling forced and stressful, especially since I had all these new ideas for business projects that I knew I wanted to work in the next year.

One afternoon, I was grousing that there isn’t enough time in the day, when suddenly I heard my wiser self whispering in my ear, “If you want to write again, you’re going to have to make it a priority.” What Wise Self meant was that while I was busily blocking out time and prioritizing all these other projects, I somehow wasn’t willing to do that for my fiction. I was sobered, because this was pretty much exactly the same mindset that had burned me out previously: putting all the emphasis on productivity rather than creativity.

And that was it. Within a few weeks, I was getting up an hour earlier and writing for an hour before lunch. And it was easy. It was like coming home. It was like turning on a faucet when you thought the power was off, only to find that the water just flows. I told a friend that it felt anticlimactic. After all those years of struggle, it was like I had never stopped writing for a minute. The story spirits were speaking to me again, and all was right with the world.

The great lesson I take from this is that frustration, impatience, and theatrically trying to bash your way through closed doors is useless. When the time is right, all things become ripe. My nature is to live life “on push,” trying to make things happen; but, in my deepest bones, I know the truth is that life works best “in flow,” when I am willing to co-create with the abundance that is all around me in every moment.

And so, yes, as I have been hinting for about a month or so, I am writing fiction again. I ended up returning to a story idea that had always been special to me. People often ask me if they should save their best ideas for when they have learned more and are better writers. I always say, “No, write it now. Write whatever story you’re most excited about right now.” But for whatever reason (my wiser self, no doubt), this was an idea I had saved, and so I find it no coincidence that when I most needed exactly the right story, this one was waiting for me. More than that, I find that the lessons I have learned in the intervening years have helped me grow into someone who can do it much more justice than I would have seven years ago or even four years ago.

For those who are wondering, the book is tentatively titled Wildblood. It is a fantasy, a dark fairy tale, about a dying princess and an immortal knight. I am finding it to be rich in archetypal symbolism and steeped in my love of Scottish history. When I have a proper premise sentence knocked together, I will share it—and I’m sure I will be writing more about the storytelling lessons it is teaching me in future posts.

As for the Dreamlander sequels, they are shelved for now (and very possibly forever). I may return to them at some point. However, if I become certain I will not progress with them, I will probably end up sharing the completed second book (which ends on a massive cliffhanger) as a freebie for anyone who is interested, because it does have some stuff in it that I really, really love.

In closing out 2022 and opening the door on 2023, I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for walking the road with me as I struggled with my writer’s block these last few years. Your encouragement and your compassion meant a great deal. Thank you for hanging with me and for believing in me even when I wasn’t so sure I would ever pull it out. I look forward to continuing this journey with you and to sharing new stories with you in the future!

Happy New Year!

Wordplayers, tell me your opinions! What were some of your notable gifts or lessons from 2022? What writing projects do you have planned for 2023? Tell me in the comments!

Click the “Play” button to Listen to Audio Version (or subscribe to the Helping Writers Become Authors podcast in Apple Podcast or Amazon Music).

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland is the award-winning and internationally-published author of the acclaimed writing guides Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs. A native of western Nebraska, she writes historical and fantasy novels and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.

Comments

  1. Wow. Thanks for sharing and daring to be vulnerable. Just know that you are not alone in your struggles. I can relate to everything you said and I hope you find the answers you seek.
    It all comes down to ’Love thyself’, you deserve it. That’s been my mental block, thinking I don’t deserve the good things in life that I want. What a lie! We all deserve to be ourselves.
    Here’s to more healing and a prosperous 2023!

  2. Eric Troyer says

    Glad you had so many good things to write about, Katie, and that you are on a positive arc. Seems like you’ve found many practices that help. I love my regular meditation and yoga practices and have slowly seen the benefits filter into other parts of my life.

    FWIW, I was thinking whatever happened in your life probably had to do with the secret alien invasion, but you’re right — I’m probably wrong! 😉

  3. Adrienne Nesiba says

    I am so glad you have many of the answers you’ve been searching for. I lived through something like it in my 20’s, and it was a hard time in my life. I’m glad to hear you say that you found a way to link up your series-and you have said similar things so many times, it sounds just like you. Now the yoga is just fabulous and I did it for 11 years or so, but I can’t do it anymore because I don’t want the stitches from my laparoscopy to rip, so I have finally gotten an exercycle and that should do the job!!! I wish you lots of success and I really appreciate that you let me tell you of my own struggles, that you gave a darn really helped me through it. I am awaiting your next writing book, I really love them, and I’ll brush up on my Dreamlander and be ready for the sequels;)
    Have a wonderful New Year with your family and the ones you love. ☮️

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Thanks, Adrienne! As I said in the post, the Dreamlander sequels are currently shelved, maybe permanently, but I’m working on something new.

      • Adrienne Nesiba says

        Well good for you, sometimes those things don’t quite come together. I’m sure your next project will be intriguing.

  4. KM, your words touched my heart. Sharing the deep journey you’ve undertaken to live your true self shows courage and blesses us all. Self-acceptance is a priceless gift. Your post today offers great encouragement and wisdom of the inestimable worthiness of its pursuit. Thank you!

  5. I am deeply moved by your post, thank you so much for your vulnerability. I am coming out of a dark night of the soul as a writer as well. It has been one of the most painful chapters of my life and yet one of the most transformative. Here is to a 2023 being exactly what it is supposed to be, whether it’s surprises us, delights us, or causes growth. Hopefully, all three. That sounds like a full life to me!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Transformation *is* painful. Honestly, it’s the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced. But even with that being so, I can honestly say it was worth every moment.

  6. Trying to keep this short, I had to give up bicycling on the road last year. I walk quite a bit, but it’s not the same, and I’ve come to realize the combination of hard cardio and the joy of the riding did a lot for me. The most important benefits were mental, and it was awesome for writing. So, I’m going to have to fill that gap.
    In terms of projects, I have one book I’m querying on, I’m putting together my author’s website, and I expect to plan and draft another book this year. I also plan to draft a dozen short stories – mainly flash.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I hope you’re able to find a mode of walking (or the right place) so that it becomes a replacement for the biking. It definitely doesn’t bring the same cardio workout.

  7. I have been surprised at the power vulnerability can weild in my own posting, and now, gauging my internal response to this mega-vulnerability on your part helps me to gain more insight on how that connects us all in a kinda Jungian way. Thank you so much for that.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I think there’s a Jungian tradition known as an “annual confession.” It’s good for the soul. 😉 Very glad you connected with the post!

  8. Thank you so much for sharing your journey. I was nodding my head in solidarity in several places. Healing oneself is vital and yet so few of us take the time. I’m so glad to hear how far you’ve come and that you’re writing again! This was a truly inspiring post and the first thing I’ve read this year that gave me hope for myself and my writing this year. Thank you and cheering you on from NC!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I think one of the (many) reasons the healing journey is difficult for so many of us is exactly because it *does* take time. There’s no rushing it and in some instances there’s no letting it happen in the background while we do other things. Depending on what other demands life may be making upon us, healing can feel like a luxury and a privilege. I don’t take that for granted.

  9. Being a creative person can really suck. There are so many thoughts that suggest, “Don’t bother” and it can be a struggle to beat them back and keep going. Thank you for sharing your struggles AND solutions!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Hah! There’s truth to that. But I would venture that this is exactly because creativity demands we be more willing to face our own truths. To those of us who are pursuing the creative life (in whatever vein) and are willing to face those voices, I’d count it as a sign we’re bravely facing some of the hardest parts of life.

  10. Thank you for bravely sharing you amazing and continuing journey of discovery about yourself. Part of which I found incredibly moving and can identify with quite a bit of your experience. And it triggered quite a few memories and acknowledgement that I too currently need some time for self appraisal and self love.
    Learning to love yourself warts and all is no easy task, but I think the only way to progress.
    Through my own experience in therapyI learned if you do not love yourself it is very difficult to love others and if you do not love yourself it is difficult to feel love from others. And last but not least it is a life-long journey and requires hard work, constant top-up and kindness to yourself. Kindness to others will automatically follow as will love.
    I wish you a happy New Year and all the love and kindness you can give yourself you deserve it.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      “Learning to love yourself warts and all is no easy task, but I think the only way to progress. Through my own experience in therapy I learned if you do not love yourself it is very difficult to love others and if you do not love yourself it is difficult to feel love from others. And last but not least it is a life-long journey and requires hard work, constant top-up and kindness to yourself. Kindness to others will automatically follow as will love.”

      Beautifully said!

  11. 2021 and 2022 were similar years for me. I wasn’t creatively burnt out exactly, but I was incredibly frustrated with the market state of my genre, the trends I was seeing, and the way the whole thing had become pay to play with ads. I have no ad budget and I refuse to give up all my hobbies to put one together.

    Then I woke up on February 24th to a war. My truest love since I was 13 has been Russian history. That’s why I learned to write novels in the first place. 2022 was the year I realized I gave too much weight to people who told me “you can’t publish that” in regards to anything historical set in Russia. I have a lot to say about what’s going on and I say it best through fiction. And through history.

    I dove headfirst back into all my research, chose books to fill in my gaps over what’s happened under Putin, catalogued my Russian history books, and also started filling in my gaps on Ukrainian history. I spend some time at least weekly refuting Kremlin propaganda, I track events very closely, and I have a deep historical understanding of how we got to this moment. Because you can’t understand what’s going on right now if you don’t have deep historical knowledge.

    So I’m back in my happy place. I’m not actively writing again yet because the research burden is intense. But I like that. I’ve also finally started learning Russian so I can read primary sources for myself. I’m having fun again.

  12. Thanks for the honest, open sharing. And the vulnerability. I feel like I have gotten to know you better because of it. And it’s always good to be reminded that even the best of writers are struggling with life just like me.

  13. Thank you for sharing this. You have said several things in your post that resonate with me, because I could say them of myself. They are true, and I feel less alone. I never put much stock in Myers Briggs, but there is something said of INTJ women that makes the concept ring true for me: it IS a rare personality among women, which I have found to be crippling in dealing with certain matters in my own life these past few years.

    On the writing front I have been undergoing my own reckoning, and one thing I have realized is that I have not treated my writing as a calling. I kept treating it as “dessert” — something I get to enjoy *only* if I eat my “dinner” first. I haven’t prioritized it as I ought to have, because I felt I didn’t have “permission,” that I was obligated to place it on a back burner.

    But a message my pastor keeps mentioning in his sermons has finally penetrated my brain, and I’ve come to realize that I need to start allowing myself to think of writing as the main course, the thing I must do. For the first time in a long time I’ve felt more hopeful, less stressed, and more willing to forgive myself about my own failures.

    In this coming year, may we all of us be fertile of imagination, creative in our work, and fruitful in our endeavors.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Myers-Briggs doesn’t resonate with everyone, but for me it was life-changing when I started digging deeper into the Jungian theories of the cognitive functions. It was a major turning point in helping me truly understand certain things about myself for the first time.

  14. Dear K,

    One thing that stands out to me, reading about your personal journey, is that you dug deep and are doing your best to remove the impediments to you happiness and personal success. That is admirable. I do get a lot out of what you share, both professionally and personally. Keep it up, you’re doing great!

    Blessings,

    Michael

  15. I just discovered you books and they are helping me SO MUCH! I love you blog post too, so honest. Thank you for sharing you story and struggles. Wishing you an amazing year.

  16. Colleen F Janik says

    That was a lot for you to deal with and work through. So sorry you had to go through all that, and yet you continued to share with all of us and encourage us. What an angel you are!
    As a sixy-something year old with my own issues, I’m glad you’re discovering all that you have about taking good care of your physical, spiritual, and mental health now. We all have our low points for sure, which I refer to as attacks from the Evil One. God did give many of us the incredible blessing of creativity. I think when we lose touch with that creativity, we are on a downhill slide.
    I find various areas of creativity for myself, which is incredibly helpful. That is not to say I’m actually talented in those areas, but they are so therapeutic.
    And family time can and SHOULD BE so healing. I’ve found the need to be forgiving of offenses from years past because WE ARE FAMILY and there can be so much strength there. I pray you are finding that to be the case.
    Selfishly, I am happy that you are writing again because the world needs your writing. I pray this will continue to be a happy, healing and productive year for you.

  17. Thank you for writing about your difficulties. Doing so is never an easy feat. While I was reading this post, I felt like I could relate to almost everything you wrote. I found a wealth of knowledge and encouragement for strength and healing on my end. It must be inherent that writers have the same trials and tribulations to undergo.
    I am so excited about your new book that you are writing!!!!! HUGE fan of ANYTHING Scottish and dark mysterious Gothic fairytales!!!!! Even though I don’t have a Scottish bone in me, I find that it’s fun to pretend, (since I’m a writer I am more or less entitled).
    Also, from a writer to another writer, PLEASE DON’T discard your Dreamlander sequels!!! I know from experience that sometimes it is best to just set your ‘brain children’ aside for awhile and ‘show them how to behave’. (They really are rambunctious naughty children, especially when they keep me awake at night.) Patience is the key. Sometimes, when I have a thought (though random and unbecoming it may be), I write it down, and then I forget about it, moving onto something else. Then, when I least expect it, I find it, and I can use it for something else or maybe make it better. I also have a book that I stopped writing. Poor ugly thing! But even the ugly duckling found its way and became a swan. However, it is precisely those ambers from yesterday that provide the fire for today.
    Then again, I am not in your shoes. I am not writing at your desk. So, do what your heart tells you. But personally, I would love to read a sequel to Dreamlander. 🙂
    I hope you have a wonderful New Year ahead of you! May it be filled with writing inspiration and healing. God bless.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Thank you! And, no, definitely not “discarding” anything. They’ll always be my babies. Now, it’s just a question of when and how I want to share them.

  18. Kelly A Larivee says

    Hi Katie,
    What an amazing post. Thanks so much for not only sharing your struggle, but the steps you’ve taken to heal and move forward. Being a writer is such an individual and highly personal thing, and writing so much an isolating endeavor, as we all come to know in our own way. But there are some things (like block, a real thing, and insecurity/rejection/doubt, even more real) we share…and how important it is for someone we “know” and respect to put it out there for us to relate to, mull over, and find our own way through.

    You aren’t fearless, Katie, but you are courageous. Brave. A warrior, because even though you must retreat from time to time for your own survival and regeneration, you return even stronger, ready to share, lead, and fight on. We as patrons of your wisdom and words are so lucky to have you in our world.

    Happy New Year! 2023 will be good for you, I have no doubt, because you’re breathing deeply, driving the writing train, and checking out the scenery for signs as you go. Wishing you much love, light, and continued healing on your way down the road.

    Kelly

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Thank you, Kelly. 🙂 And, yes, I find it a wonderful thing that however isolated an endeavor writing is, we still get to share in a larger community of others who are also courageously walking their own battles. Happy New Year to you as well!

  19. Joseph Merboth says

    Thanks for sharing your story which is, ultimately, of victory. I always knew you had it in you.

    This line stood out: ‘My nature is to live life “on push,” trying to make things happen; but, in my deepest bones, I know the truth is that life works best “in flow,” when I am willing to co-create with the abundance that is all around me in every moment.’ The phrase I’ve adopted in my own life is ‘Work with your mind, not against it.’ Amazing how much intentionality it takes to be a whole person.

    As an Enneagram 3 myself, that desire to present perfection has always been hard to fight. But when my best friend said to me, ‘Joseph, I don’t think you’re as good at controlling your appearances as you think you are,’ I was crushed – and completely liberated.

    Things I accomplished in 2022:
    – Quit my stable day job and started freelancing. It’s been awesome.
    – Applied for my past self’s dream job – and then rejected the offer
    – Started a Substack
    – Built a GoodReads competitor, and then decided I was burned out and haven’t finished coding it. And I’m okay with that.
    – Read 44 books, which is a record
    – Sent out my first query letters to literary agents. Still waiting to see what happens!

    I’m immensely proud of that list.

    Here’s to moving forward, with mind, body, and spirit in step, in 2023.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      “when my best friend said to me, ‘Joseph, I don’t think you’re as good at controlling your appearances as you think you are,’ I was crushed – and completely liberated.”

      Haha. Right? :p I really like something Enneagram expert Russ Hudson said: “People see through all your facades–and they love you anyway.”

  20. What a beautiful post!

  21. You should write a book like this post. A Sarah Clarkson type of book. I find it so calming and helpful, to read posts like this. I am a 4w3 (heavy on the 3) so I understand what you’re talking about above. I’m glad you’re finding peace. <3

    Wildblood sounds AMAZING. I want to read it!!

  22. Thank you for this.

    I’ve had my own issues with writing over the past several years. Fortunately, I’ve had the library of phenomenal resources you’ve put together here over the past number of years, along with your books (and the books of others that you’ve recommended), to help me at least expand my knowledge of the craft while I wait for life circumstances to become more favorable so I can add BiC/HoK* to my daily routine. [*Butt in Chair/Hands on Keyboard]

    I can’t tell you how much milage I was able to derive from reading your posts on archetypal character arcs. It just so happened that you wrote those almost immediately after I finished reading Truby’s “Anatomy of Story,” and the back-to-back juxtaposition of those two very different (yet surprisingly complementary) approaches to plot and structure were huge to me for figuring out how to put together the novel I want to write first. It’s enabled me to be able to work piecemeal on the story structure and do some very important theme work (thanks for the help there, too) while I wait for my life schedule to become more accommodating (and it’s getting there!).

    So, your transparency and your willingness to be vulnerable with people you don’t know is very much valued and appreciated. YOU are valued and appreciated. You’ve given me more than knowledge and indispensable ‘how-tos.’ You’ve given me hope.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      That’s so great, William! Very happy to hear you’re gaining some traction with your story and that you found the archetypal characters series useful. I’m hoping to have it out in book form soon!

  23. Katie, I loved reading this post! Like you, I have gone through a period of creative burnout, starting in 2018. Much of it was health-related, and I’ve spent the past few years just trying to get better. When I finally felt well enough to write again in 2021, my creative burnout still hadn’t fully healed. While I did complete another draft of my novel, everything after that felt like a horrible grind, and I hated it. I knew that trying to dive back into that project was a recipe for burnout, so I set it aside.

    Six months after that, I’ve finally started to write a story again — one just for fun, in an effort to nurture my creative juices — and it really does feel good! I hope the trend continues.

    Reading this helped me not feel so alone. You are someone I really look up to (I remember binge-reading your blog posts and using your outlining, structuring, and character arc workbooks for my novel), so this was a great encouragement. I’m so happy to hear you’re in a better place and that you’re writing again. I hope that I, too, will make a full recovery from my burnout as well!

    Happy New Year! I hope it is your best yet. Wildblood sounds amazing, by the way!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Very sorry to hear about your own struggles with your health and your creativity. But, yes, you’re definitely not alone. It’s a place on the map marked “here there be dragons.” But there’s gold in there too. Hang in there!

  24. The last couple of years have been really hard for a slew of non-pandemic reasons. At the end of 2021 I realized I needed to focus on my health in 2022 – physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. I kept a little note at the foot of each page in my diary, looking back each day at what I had done to foster health in those four areas.

    I’m definitely in a better place health-wise than I was a year ago, with a couple of long-running issues finally addressed. I’m looking forward to further steps toward thriving this year.

    And despite it all, I persevered through the writing and rewriting of a book which should be out in autumn (Northern Hemisphere spring) – Amiant Soul. Could be my best yet.

  25. Thank you for your candor. And I’m thrilled you are beyond the block. I love your work, and I, too know the struggle of burnout.
    Last year I heard a heavenly whisper – “decrease.” I was baffled. It was a bit off putting to be honest. I’d successfully sold six books in 8 years and had several more lined up. Can’t stop now!
    But I invested time to soak in what decrease might mean for me.
    The answer came thru that familiar heavenly voice. Here’s what I captured:
    “Time to focus on the should do’s that stretch me, grow me, yet create space in my calendar. This is the antidote to the could do’s which were often enticing but hijacked my time and drained my energy. They also hijacked my opportunities to tackle the BHAGs – the big hairy audacious goals – and leverage the gifts placed in my life according to His call.
    Cutting away the minors to focus on the majors.
    It cut my stress and brought a wonderful peace. The joy of creating without the pressure of juggling projects has restored the balance I’d been missing.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Yes, sometimes the message we hear is totally *not* the one we want! But there are so many gifts on the other side.

  26. Your post is quite amazing – especially when I look at in the context of all the other posts you’ve written for “struggling writers” – I always shrugged when I read some of the others and said to myself, “easy for you to say, you don’t know what I’m going through…”! Thank you so much for being so generous in sharing your 360-degree review of your year!
    Ofcourse we forget that healing is also a journey, when we’ve come some way we might look back and say to our earlier selves, oh when I thought I’d healed, it was just the beginning of the journey… and then there are some of us who stand at the shore waiting to start, thinking we’re already at sea… oh well!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I’m very glad the post was resonant for you. 🙂 It’s funny, because when share stuff like this, my inner critic is often telling me to stop being a drama queen and that nobody wants to hear that I *don’t* have it all together. Which is hilarious on so many levels. :p But I know from personal experience how healing, validating, and empowering it can be to recognize one’s self in someone else’s struggles. It can offer context, as well as, sometimes, a bit of guidance for the next step forward.

  27. Awesome! Glad to hear you’re writing again, K.M.! I’ve been through the turning the faucet off and on several times in my life, it happens just like you said, one day, it just flows.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Experience is the best teacher! I hope I never go through a dry spell like that again, but if I do, I will be grateful for the context of everything I learned this time around.

  28. Cherie Bombell says

    ❤️

  29. Thank you for your wisdom! I’m struggling with writers block myself at the moment. I’m hoping to either finish the novella I started last year or bin it. I’d like to write another book in my latest series at some point. This novella is holding everything else up, but I’m a completionist, so it’s hard to abandon it.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Ah, sorry to hear that. I hope it’s a swift journey, but may it teach you beautiful lessons while it lasts. 🙂

  30. All good things here, and just as a fellow human being, I am proud of you! How much did your faith have to do with your upward journey? 2021 was the year that brought me to church for the first time as an adult and through that Jesus changed me so much. I can’t imagine a bright future without Him! I can’t wait to see where your creativity takes you next!

  31. Reading your post, I thought of the things I’ve learned from reading In the Year of the Rabbit by Terence Harkin. Much of the story is about a character in Thailand who studies to become a Buddhist monk. The awareness of self and meditation and quiet you talk about is part of the Buddhist religion. I’ve been incorporating some of those precepts into my days and it does bring me a calmness that is new to me.

    On another note, I’ve had dry needling in my back and it helped immensely.

    Happy New Year!

  32. Nice to read such a personal post from you, K.M. When I moved across the country two years ago, I had boxes of research materials and shelves of notebooks for novels I’d long intended to “get around” to writing. Sifting through those documents in preparation to move, I realized I just didn’t feel passionate about those projects anymore, and instead preferred to invest my creative energy in new stories I’d been developing. So, I let those old projects go — without self-recrimination — and I don’t regret it. I discarded those materials and made room in my home — and in my head — for new stories.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Yes, something I learned during my movies was that sometimes our stories change with our settings. What we are interested and want to write about in one place is not always what we will be interested in or want to write about in the next place.

  33. Thank you for sharing your gifts! As a fellow INTJ who, for many, many years, denied being sensitive (while wallowing in the pain and anxiety caused by it) I am super impressed by all your work, both before and after. Congratulations on your progress!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Hah, right? 😉 Thanks for the kind words. Glad to have a fellow INTJ HSP (one of many here, I suspect) as a companion on the trail.

  34. You are such a beautiful, inspiring person. Thank you for your posts.

  35. What an impressive and inspiring retrospective! I wish you a (more) enjoyable, if always dynamic and enriching, ride in this new year! 😀

    As you wrote about your diet, I was reminded of someone I know who has become vegan and who speaks highly of it. She says she feels more energetic, more clear-minded and more in tune with her own compassionate nature. It seems like you say: body, mind, self, everything is connected.

    Through these trying years, you’ve always managed to write extraordinary, thought-provoking and fun to read articles. Thank you!

    I look forward to reading more about your new project, when you’re/it’s ready. Here’s to a healthful 2023!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Thanks for sharing! There are many reasons I would love to be vegan, or at least vegetarian, but for now I feel most confident with a diet that balances protein and carbs in every meal, something I have trouble doing without some meat.

  36. I forgot (double comment, oops?): the frontal lobe idea you mention is definitely intriguing. I have to try it!

  37. Dear Katie, how glad I am that you are finding that inner peace that comes from knowing, loving, and respecting yourself. I see myself reflected in many of the things you have mentioned, and I have gone through similar moments, in which the focus of attention has been physical, emotional and mental health.

    For several years I believed that my dream was to be a writer and that this was my vocation, and I pursued it relentlessly, eight hours a day, learning, documenting myself, outlining a saga of novels that excite me, until I realized that in reality it was a way of being “productive”, since I was unemployed, and it seemed to me that just being a housewife was not enough. That wore me out a lot, and left me without the desire to write or do anything, my health worsened and I couldn’t concentrate.

    At some point I gave myself permission to question that “vocation”, and I realized that I don’t want to be a writer, I don’t want to publish, I don’t want to be famous, I don’t want to be part of a community of writers, or take writing courses. I am an INTJ woman, a highly sensitive person, who all I want is to be creative, follow my curiosity where it leads me, try new things without worrying if I finish them or not, because for me joy is in what I feel, in flowing (as you said) with what my Being inspires me, and thus I have managed to find my little piece of happiness and inner peace.

    You are not alone on this path, and reading you inspires us to follow the dictates of our hearts, and to convince our minds to join us: body, mind and soul (it is the holistic way of life you mentioned).

    Thank you for moving forward, I am convinced that there are always reasons to move forward, even if we change course.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Thanks for sharing such an empowering and courageous story of your willingness to listen to and follow your own path, even when it didn’t look how you thought it was “supposed” to. All the best!

  38. Thank you for this big share. I identify with much of what you wrote, and it’s always a comfort to know we are not alone. The biggest thing I learned this past year is that I can-and must-make Myself my highest priority. It’s a long time coming, but I’m doing it. Congratulations on your journey, and best wishes for a joyful new year!

  39. Mikiel Ottmar says

    Hi, am so glad I waited a few days to read this as am in the process of self evaluation, whatever that means!?! I certainly could relate to all you wrote, even though I’m in my 80s not 30s but am still in the learning phase of living. I began a story/novel a few years ago featuring heavenly hosts and creative beings then quit it but it never left my mind, because it was a fun write and “knew” no one would take it seriously — so who cares? Now am ready to give it a go simply because I want to not have to. This is going to be a great year on many levels and am feeling creative again. I don’t think I get writer’s block it’s more but in chair laziness, ’nuff of that, back to the keyboard, or for me pencil/pen and paper. Thanks for your words. mikiel

  40. Thanks for sharing thIs! It couldn’t have been easy to be so vulnerable and share it.

    Did you remove the Writing Buddy post? I just saw it and was hoping to add my name.

  41. Thank you for this post. I wish you and everyone who comments on your posts the very best 2023. I no longer feel alone with my personal and writing problems 😊

  42. Yay for personal growth and surviving struggles! It feels the work never ends, and it takes a lifetime to make the progress we want…. and for once I don’t have a theory to project where all that leads. We can treat that like Sisyphus pushing up the boulder up a hill, or instead view it like the chef that must feed a whole room full of hangry people, taking joy in knowing doing the work itself is nourishing. Thanks for being you!

  43. Barbara Martinez says

    I just went to my email that consists mostly of writing sites I follow. I hadn’t been there in a few days and I had so many that I couldn’t see the forest for the trees, so I checked all of them to delete – except for yours – because I always want to read what you have to say. I’m glad to hear you gave yourself some space to heal and grow and glad to hear you are attuned to that in your thirties. I’m still working through that and I am far, far ahead of you in years. I do understand where you are in finding a time to write that feels right. I used to write after my husband went to bed and the house was quiet with the TV off and I was able to complete a thought in my brain. That was a few years ago and now I’m having a lot of trouble with that time of night. Working on a new schedule. I’ve come to appreciate even writing just a few paragraphs. I don’t set unattainable word goals. I’ll be happy to do a little consistently. Keep on keeping on. Your work is greatly appreciated. You might have been too close to it to realize how many you have influenced with your advice. Thank you.

  44. I feel like I’m always saying this when I find time to finally post a comment, but thank you again for your openness honesty in sharing your journey as an author!

    I remain impressed that, though everything you’ve experienced and all the challenges you’ve faced, you continue to create consistently great posts about a wide variety of topics related to writing.

    In relation to the subject of tapping-in, I highly recommend Finding Quiet by JP Moreland. It’s got a lot of tools in info about dealing with anxiety and depression, many of which I found incredibly useful on a personal level. It’s also the first time I’d ever heard about the practice of tapping in emotions.

  45. Kira Luethe says

    Thank you for sharing how you worked to overcome your personal challenges. I am so happy to hear that you have been able to work on healing, and that you are at a point where writing is coming naturally to you again. I have been following your blog and writing books since 2013, and I feel honored to have witnessed some of your personal growth and changes over the past decade. I continue to root for you!

  46. Thank you for sharing your challenges and growth over the past few years. It means a lot for you to talk about your struggle as an Enneagram 3 to appear “never afraid, never fazed, always smart, always self-reliant, always competent.”

    I’ve reading a lot about the Enneagram since you discussed it on your blog. I’ve discovered that I’m an Enneagram 6. I tend to look outward for some trustworthy source to provide the “right” answer about “what to do” when I am anxious. I’m coming to recognize this habit as not only detrimental to my inner confidence and courage, but also an unrealistic pressure to put on others I perceive in a mentorship or leadership role.

    This blog post jumped out to me as something that showed how those journeys can go together- how you facing your fears of show vulnerability challenges others to face their fears too. In my case, this would be the fear that there may be no one “formula” for creative or personal success but we are all learning from each other and doing our best as we go along.

    That doesn’t mean that I don’t still appreciate guidance, advice, and tips from writing coaches, or that I don’t look to the examples of past writers for examples of what worked in their storytelling. But it does suggest that there’s no way around the scary (though sometimes magical) part of art where you don’t really know what you’re doing and you’re just trying your best.

  47. minstrelgirl451 says

    I’m almost in tears as I read this… and I’m not entirely sure why. 2020 was a hiatus year for me as well, from practically any creative work – although I found community in cooperative fantasy writing (for no purpose other than enjoyment). I felt lazy at times, but have ended up with a full album of original music. So definitely, taking things slow has been helpful.

    My grandmother moved in with us partway through the year, and 2021 brought the last hard months of her life. I learned that the things I dreaded most were things I could walk through. The one thing I asked God was that she would not die in our house. I did not want to see that, yet I felt guilty for not wanting to be with her. He walked me through the year so gently. I have learned that it is ok to not be perfect, and to accept that she did feel loved and loved me. And I learned to be grateful that she did pass away in the comfort of a home rather than in the hospital or another strange place. I learned the value of talking through your feelings with another person, the willingness to dare to do things out of my comfort zone, and a little more drive to connect with friends, because you don’t know how much time you have.

    In 2022 I found achievable morning and evening routines that worked for my unpredictable work life, and finished recording an album (with/for my family) and a single (for myself!).

    I’m not at all where I want to be, I haven’t returned to my wips, and I still find myself fearing the loss of the younger me as I grow – but the rose bud isn’t lost when it blossoms, nor is the sun lessened when it bursts through the clouds. Thank you so much for sharing your own journey, and for the prompt to share a bit of our own. Honestly? Before typing this I was thinking of how little progress I made in 2021, or how I should try to further improve. Now I’m filled with gratitude and joy for the little steps I’ve made, and the momentum I’ve brought into 2023. 🙂

    May this year be an amazing one!

    Christina D. [From the Wordplayers group 🙂 ]

  48. Mikiel M Ottmar says

    Thank you for this, I felt what you were experiencing as I had a similar experience with my grandmother a few years ago, I was still working and got a call that she had been taken to the hospital and I hesitated about going until a co-worker said “get on your way” so I did and reaslized when I arrived that Gram had waited for me to get there. We (family) left for a bit and when got back she smiled and took my hand and quietly went to sleep. However, she is still just beyond my left shoulder daily, I’m never far from her presence. mikiel

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