A Writer’s New Year Reflections: The 6 Gifts I Gave Myself in 2021

Another new year brings another new opportunity for reflection and re-centering. As I talk about nearly every year, my preference for the New Year is to focus less on resolutions for the year ahead and more on reflections of what I experienced and gained in the year past. For me, as I think for many people, 2021 was full of challenges. A year ago, I ended 2020 with the realization that in some strange way it was one of the best years of my life; 2021 was certainly a momentous year, but it was a lot harder.

On the personal front, it was a year that started with a severe eyestrain that lasted for months and limited my screentime, followed by a reinjury of a disc in my back. Then came a health scare with a close family member that shook me to my core (but which, happily, is currently resolved). And then in the fall, I undertook my second major interstate move in three years (which is still rather in medias res, so that will be a story for next year).

On the writing front, it was a year like no other. It was the year in which I chose to face my ongoing burnout and writer’s block head on and give myself permission to not write fiction for a full twelve months. In many ways, that decision turned out to be the one that defined 2021 for me. It is a decision I have not regretted for a moment (although there were plenty of moments when it scared me). In the end, it was a decision that turned out to be a tremendous gift from myself to myself. Now, as I reflect back on the year and what it brought me, what I see beyond all the difficulties are all the gifts.

6 Gifts I Gave Myself in 2021

Usually, in my New Year post, I talk about the lessons I learned from the past year. But this year, I realize the one major lesson I learned was that the “gifts” I gave myself were invaluable—and should be repeated every year.

So here’s a look at the six gifts I gave myself in my Year of No Writing—and why I believe they were profoundly life-changing.

Gift #1: Rest (Taking a Break)

Like many people I struggled to write my fiction in 2020. For me, the impact of the profound global shifts that happened in that year came hard on the heels of several years of personal crises. I was already running on fumes and trying to understand how to grapple with the practical and physical effects of burnout, not to mention a severe case of plot block with the fantasy sequel I was trying to write. I puttered through most of 2020, either half-heartedly trying to write my fiction or distracting myself with other writing-related chores. By the beginning of 2021, I knew I was facing a decision. I needed to take a break. I needed to stop trying so hard for so few results. I needed to take a step back, give myself some space, and truly evaluate what was happening with my relationship to my fiction writing.

In some ways, deciding to take a “conscious sabbatical” from fiction for an entire year was easy. After all, I wasn’t really writing anyway. But in other ways, it was one of the hardest decisions I’d ever made. What if once I quit, I never started again? What if I had no more stories to tell? What if my burnout never got any better? (And as I write this at the end of December 2021 I still don’t know what answers I will discover in 2022.) Regardless all the doubt, deep in my gut, I knew it was the right thing—maybe the only thing. And everything in me breathed a sigh of relief.

What I Learned: For so many of us, there can be such fear and guilt around the idea of not doing (whether it’s not doing writing or whatever else). But the fear and stress of the pandemic has brought many of us to the limits of ourselves in new ways. Often, this feels like failure. It’s not. What it is is a certain kind of death: the death of the old ways. And out of death comes rebirth. Reaching our limits means growth. But we cannot surpass those limits if we’re not first willing to admit they’re there. I daresay we’re all growing into new people these days. This decade will probably change us all in ways we may never have experienced thus far in our lifetimes. To try to cling to the ways that “used to work” when they no longer function, for whatever reason, is only to waste precious energy. Sometimes taking a step back and just resting is the bravest thing we can do.

Gift #2: Permission (Presence)

Once I’d stepped out from under that ever-present pressure in the back of my mind that said I should be writing, I found a little space to look up and look around. And what I found was myself. Not myself as I wanted to be. Not the ideal self that, with a little willpower and effort, could do everything I wanted her to do or thought she should be able to do. But the self that actually was. The self that was burned out, exhausted, scared, and really didn’t want to write.

2021 was a year of practicing permission with myself: the permission to just be as I am and to be present with the reality of myself in any given moment. Do I want to write? Do I want to dreamzone? Do I want to read Proust, or do I really just want to read Pratchett? Do I want to read dark fantasy, or do I maybe just want to re-read a favorite romance?

Sometimes it wasn’t even about “want to.” Sometimes the last thing I wanted was to sit with my own discomfort, to ground into my own body and feel what was actually there. But all those scared parts of me, they wanted me to be present. They wanted me to pay attention, to sit there with them, and to listen. Part of giving myself permission to just be meant having the discipline to practice that presence.

What I Learned: Mostly, what I learned was… I’m not very good at presence. :p The other thing I learned was that it gets easier with practice, and the more I practiced presence, the more I got to know all my parts. With that came a certain ease with myself—with my fears, with my not-writing, with all the things I really do want rather than just the things I think I’m supposed to want. One thing I found was that, yes, I do still want to write stories. But to find those stories, I have to be able to listen to the deeper parts of myself and discover what is truly there to be told.

Gift #3: Attention (What Isn’t Said)

I boss myself around a lot. And I’m not always very good at listening to myself. This is undoubtedly why I got myself into the predicament of burnout in the first place. There’s a joke in the MBTI personality-typing community that INTJs (me) are the “coldest humans,” while our fellow introverted intuitive thinkers the INTPs are the “warmest robots.” But I’ve always rather related more to the robot bit. Part of my work in recovering has been to stop assuming I can run my life like a computer programmer typing code. Basically, I need to shut up more and just listen—to my instincts, to my intuition, to the rhythms and cycles of life around me.

Let me tell you: it’s so much easier to be the author of the story than it is to be one of the characters! It’s much easier to say, “Here’s what I want to have happen, and here’s how it will be so”—rather than to say, “Oh, gosh, look at that writing on the wall.” This is not to say that autonomy and intention aren’t powerful forces, but neither can we wish away the actual circumstances in which we must build our lives.

For me, staying present and paying attention to the truths of my own deeper wisdom sometimes meant seeing things I would rather not have seen—at least in the beginning. One of those things was a deep inner sense that after living for the last three years in the little farmhouse I loved, it was time to go. I’d had a sense almost from the first day I moved there that I would only be there for three years. After some deep and difficult soul-searching in the early summer, I decided to initiate a move, uncertain exactly where I would be going. As it turned out, my elderly landlady died just weeks before my designated moving day. Her children were waiting for her death to sell the house, so I would have had to go this year anyway; if I hadn’t listened to myself, I would  have been stuck in a much more uncertain and stressful situation. Call it a coincidence, but one way or another, it was a gift I wouldn’t have received had I not been paying attention.

What I Learned: Pay attention, even when you’re afraid you won’t like what you see. Respond to the situation that is, not the one you want it to be. And (hardest for me) be flexible. Life works so much more fluidly when we respond rather than react, but the ability to respond is predicated upon presence. Moving this time was still hard and sad in many ways. The responsibility for the decisions and the work was still on my shoulders. But because I was trying to work with life, I felt held through the process. Even though the outcome was the same, it felt like I got to make the decision instead of having the decision made for me.

Gift #4: Discipline (In Flow, Not On Push)

“The Year of Rest”—it sounds so, well, restful. In some ways, it was. The parts of my brain that most needed rest got it. But, really, that was only so other parts could get the benefit of all my energy. And even if I was letting certain parts of myself take a break and feel taken care of, other parts of myself were the ones that had to take care of me. My mom tells the story of how when I (her first child) was born, she looked me and she looked at herself and she said to me, “Well, somebody has to be the adult now, and it isn’t going to be you!” I often think about that in regards to my grown-up self. I look at myself in the mirror and I joke, “Well, somebody has to be the adult now!” Even in a year of no writing, work still had to be done. I still had to keep up with my business, pay the bills, buy the groceries.

Indeed, in some ways, it was a very productive year. My biggest project was writing the blog series/future book about archetypal character arcs—something I’m as excited and passionate about as any of my fiction stories. So even though I was “taking a break from fiction,” I wasn’t “taking a break from life.” I was still showing up every day, doing what needed doing, because no matter how important presence and spontaneity may be, they still require a supporting framework of order from within which to operate.

What I Learned: There’s a sweet spot right at the juncture of discipline and presence: it’s the ability to be in flow. Routines are still my secret weapon in life, but I’m learning to use them “in flow” rather than “on push.” It’s like what I learned, when writing my barnstorming novel Storming, about being in an old-fashioned airplane. You need the engine to get you into the air, but once you’re up there, you can turn it off and just glide for a while. Crafting daily routines to allow for maximum productivity with minimum effort is something I’m always playing with—and the spontaneity of life demands that those routines evolve from time to time.

Gift #5: Goodness (Want to, Not Have to)

This was a year in which I sought to fill up on goodness. That’s not always easy to find when you’re engaged in intense shadow work in the midst of a global crisis. But I knew part of my struggle with writing is that I let the well run dry. So I made it a point to, first, avoid everything I could that sucked energy and goodness out of my life (for one thing, I cut even further back on social media).

Second, I focused on finding the juiciness in life wherever I could. If there was something that didn’t bring me joy and I didn’t have to do it, I didn’t. If there was something I had to, I tried to turn into a ritual of sorts, tried to find a way to the heart of whatever blessing it was offering.

What I Learned: This plan didn’t always bring me joy and ecstasy, of course, but one thing it did do was help me stay present. It helped me keep asking myself, “What do I really want here?” Surprisingly, the answer wasn’t always, “Whatever is easiest.” Sometimes the answer was something really hard, like moving. But other times, it was just a matter of buying myself good dark chocolate or taking a walk under the full moon or calling someone out of the blue just because I really wanted to talk to them. And, slowly, slowly, I do feel the well refilling. It hasn’t happened overnight, and I don’t even feel like it’s mostly back to full capacity. But there has been a subtle shift in the way I look out at the world. There has been a small rekindling of the wonder from which the stories used to burst into flame. That gives me hope.

Gift #6: Reclamation (Gifts From My Past Self)

In the final month of 2021, I was able to receive some unexpected gifts from the me that used to be—the me that wrote stories. I have spent the last month or so revisiting my old novels, re-reading them (and, in the case of Wayfarer, listening to it being brought to life in the full-cast audio dramatization from Sargent Family Productions). Sometimes I get a little cringe-y about revisiting old works, but this time, it felt like revisiting old dear, dear friends. It felt like revisiting benevolent ghosts of myself.

And… it makes me want to write again. I still don’t know what stories I have yet to tell. Maybe it will still be sequels to some of those I’ve already written. Maybe it will be new ones entirely. Maybe it will be new genres and experiments. Maybe it will be another year or even more before the well is completely refilled and I have found out who I am in this new and shifting paradigm of ours. But when I get present with myself… and really pay attention… and ask myself where goodness is to be found in my life… my eyes keep drifting over to the row of books on my shelf.

And so I think what I have learned is what I have always believed—that the struggle is the glory, that all who wander are not lost, and that every story comes full circle. In this time, in which we are all struggling and wandering at least a little bit, I hope that brings you a little of the encouragement and the confirmation that it does to me.

God bless you and happy New Year!

Wordplayers, tell me your opinions! What “gifts” will you try to give yourself as a writer in 2022? 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).

___

Love Helping Writers Become Authors? You can now become a patron. (Huge thanks to those of you who are already part of my Patreon family!)

Sign Up Today

hwba sidebar pic

Sign up to receive K.M. Weiland’s e-letter and receive her free e-book Crafting Unforgettable Characters: A Hands-On Introduction to Bringing Your Characters to Life.

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. K,
    The idea of gifts to myself in the sense you describe has never occurred to me. I struggle every day with writing and occasionally drag out my half-dozen or so unfinished stories trying to do something with them. I am, however, surprised to read of your year of not writing. How can you say that when you wrote that whole series on Archetypal Character Arcs? Sure it was not fiction but it was good writing. Give yourself a break.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      The Year of No Fiction Writing. 😉 I do have a tendency to think of fiction as the only “real” writing I do. I’ve been working on reframing that for a while now. But the fiction writing *is* special. It’s why we’re all here after all. 🙂

  2. Grace Dvorachek says

    How encouraging to see how you’ve grown in the past year! I, too, have grown as a writer in ways too numerous to mention here. Some of what I learned I had to learn the hard way, through trial and error. But your posts were always there every week—often at the exact moment that I needed them. So thank you for being a part of my writing journey, and spreading your knowledge to other aspiring authors!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Yay! That’s great to hear. It’s always a successful year when you can look back and know you’re different at the end from how you were at the beginning.

  3. It’s encouraging to know that others are struggling too, so thank you for your honesty. I don’t feel so alone.

    Creativity requires a certain amount of peace. Since we’re living in unusual times, we need to be kind to ourselves (and to each other!) while we adjust and set new goals.

    God bless you too.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      “Creativity requires a certain amount of peace. Since we’re living in unusual times, we need to be kind to ourselves (and to each other!) while we adjust and set new goals.”

      Boy, isn’t that spot on?

  4. Eric Troyer says

    Sounds like you created several good story arcs for yourself this past year. Nice job of life writing!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Ha. Definitely. The last few years were a Third Plot Point. This year felt Climactic. I think I’m in a bit of a Resolution phase at the moment. Guess that means a new Call to Adventure is brewing. 😉

  5. Josiah DeGraaf says

    Really appreciated listening to your honest reflections about what this past year was like and how you’re dealing with these writing challenges. Thanks for sharing these!

  6. I have given up writing for long periods of time but never with the planned intention of doing so. Your way is far better. I’m always filled with guilt over not doing what I feel I should be doing. I enjoyed this very much–thanks!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Yes, this “planned” year of no writing was a lot less stressful than the previous year, in which I did pretty much no writing at all but felt way worse about it. :p

  7. Aaron Blake says

    Thanks for sharing your struggles and gifts. A lot of us have gone through similar struggles over the last year for the same reasons. Although our emotional wells aren’t full, at least they’re filling up as we tend to ourselves and nurture ourselves for who we are and where we are right now. I hope the spark of creativity continues to grow this year and leads to fulfillment and joy. Peace!

  8. I am very nearly opposite you. I write ALL the time. My writing, however, is most exclusively non-fiction, which I love. I came to your website while in an “in between time” in which I wrote a nice, though uncrafty first draft of a novel of 80,000 words or so! I learned a lot since then. So, you have not stopped writing, just changed formats. In doing so, other skills get used and helps people grow, like cross training???

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Congrats on the novel! That’s awesome. 😀 And thanks for the cross training analogy. I like that a lot!

  9. I do find this encouraging. I will say a couple of things. 2021 was definitely not a year off for you, those archetype columns didn’t just write themselves. I’ll also say how sorry I am to hear of all your struggles. In my heart, I always feel sad when I hear of other’s difficulties, and wish it was me instead, because these are all lost opportunities for me to complain.

    i think I wrote about as much as I could last year. Completing a major novel draft, and several revision passes. My moment of drama came as I thought I was preparing to go agent hunting, and with the help of a couple of editors, realized I needed to redraft. Part of this was because the novel itself is bloated and needs to be tightened up. But the biggest problem for me is that it wasn’t in the voice I wanted it to be in. The voice I want readers to come to expect from me. The voice I believe is in me, but hasn’t emerged yet. So its onto another draft. I’ll probably also do a steady stream of short stories, really focused on developing that voice.

    God bless you Katie. I am not going to wish you a year of joy, as I have always found that joy dissipates rather quickly. Rather, I’m going to wish you a year of fulfillment in which you are content with who you are, while always growing into something better, even when the possibility of that astonishes you along with all of us.

    • Lincoln Clark says

      “In my heart, I always feel sad when I hear of other’s difficulties, and wish it was me instead, because these are all lost opportunities for me to complain.” Brilliant! ROTFL, 😀

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Thanks, Andy. And congrats on your book. I’ve enjoyed what you’ve shared about it, and I wish you all the best with it moving forward!

  10. “But all those scared parts of me, they wanted me to be present. They wanted me to pay attention, to sit there with them, and to listen. Part of giving myself permission to just be meant having the discipline to practice that presence.” I love this reflective post and the gifts that you have gleaned from your year. I wish you many blessings in 2022.

  11. Warmest robot. Yep, that sounds like me. 😂

  12. Katie, thank you! Here are my reflections:
    1. I gave myself permission to grieve.
    It has been a full year since my wife Lynn died. I worked through her loss while in the midst of COVID scares, precautions and shutdowns. I spoke to a grief counselor several times, accepted guidance and support. I supported my daughter’s writing as she published her first book and went on to complete a second. She and I found joy while living through the year-end holidays, marking Lynn’s first anniversary on Christmas eve.

    2. I gave myself permission to not write, to take a sabbatical.
    I am not a proficient writer, by any means. I do not make a living at it. I have never been successful in establishing my writing as a business. But in 2021 I took several extended sabbaticals from writing fiction books. I could not focus. The ideas were there. The purpose was not. In April I joined an online writing community, took courses, backed off for rest breaks, took another course, backed off again. And I took a writing break from the IWP online alumni writing group I am in. We keep in touch, but are not sharing any writing.
    And for me last year, not writing also meant not reading. I found it difficult to focus on reading for most of the year. A few favorite authors held my attention, but I turned away from most of the books and authors I normally devour. I love thrillers and mysteries. I could not stomach them for most of 2021.

    3. I gave myself permission to show up.
    This is perhaps one of the most important things I learned. In 2021 I wrote over fifty brief short stories and posted them my blog almost every week. Even with gaps, I kept posting the stories through year end. These brief stories gave me hope and encouragement. I appear to be finding readers through my blog.

    4. I gave myself permission to take care of myself.
    When I told my grief counselor that I find few sources for hope, she said, go back to the basics. To diet and exercise. I have learned that I alone am responsible for my health and well-being. I have begun to eat more carefully, exercise more often, meditate on a regular basis. It helps.
    I began the year on January 6th struggling to assemble an Ikea couch while screaming at the TV as I watched the Capitol insurrection. I cannot remember a deeper feeling of anger, resentment, frustration, even fear. The fear persists to this day. But I try to pull back when I am getting angry, fearful.

    5. I gave myself permission to engage in non-writing activities.
    I cleared out most of the clutter in my garage. I organized possessions and files. And I tried to make art. This is at best tentative, but I began making collages. Gathering materials. Looking for creative expression. I gave myself permission to enjoy watching TV and movies. To relax. To do “nothing.”

    6. Finally, I realized that I have always approached writing, whether fiction or non-fiction, as a source of income. A side hustle, if you will. I have had a bit of success with my non-fiction in that regard. My fiction has been a dismal failure in generating income. In finding readers or an audience. I don’t know who my audience is, what my market is. I am struggling with blending the joy of writing stories with the goal of marketing the stories. This is an ongoing battle.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      These are powerful, Bob. Thank you for sharing. Very sorry to hear about your profound loss. Wishing you all the best in this coming year.

  13. Colleen F. Janik says

    What a beautiful post. Thank you! We are all so human. It’s wonderful that you realized you needed to do some self care. It’s important to see that others who are close to us have no idea what we’re going through or what we desperately need at that moment.
    I love the idea of giving ourselves gifts. My list of gifts I’m giving myself this year:

    Self-discipline because that’s what I NeeD now.

    Trust in Someone Other than Myself. There are two big areas where I desperately need this, two areas that cause me a lot of stress. One involves a big out of state move that scares the dayliights out of me but I feel certain that in the long run I’ll find more peace there.

    Those are the two big gifts I have planned so far. The biggest gifts I know I’ll receive are from my Creator, Who knows me best and is constantly blessing with gifts that surprise me every single day. Without Him, I could do no writing, nothing that has any value whatsoever.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      “One involves a big out of state move that scares the dayliights out of me but I feel certain that in the long run I’ll find more peace there.”

      I hear you!

  14. Oh, gosh, this is so intensely beautiful! Thank you for sharing this simple, powerful reflection, and letting your gifts gift others as well!

  15. Greetings! I am always elated to read a new post. I feel very comforted to be surrounded by fellow writers in this world of illiteracy–so comforting…like a gigantic cup of freshly brewed coffee… and an endless library of excellent books to read and worlds to discover. My journey as a writer has been longstanding but now a new adventure has only just begun… the adventure of being in print. While it is thrilling to think that my first book is published…it terrifying as well. I am confronting myself from the past–and, as the rule always goes, I am not pleased with what I see. I see an imperfect writer, not a proficient author.
    What next? I ask myself. What if my book will never makes it? What if I only sell only a few copies? Oh! I hope no one sees that error! Or that one! My legacy is ruined!
    My worry is beyond monstrous, it is absolutely consuming. I can relate to that same fear of never writing again, and I am very relieved that I am not alone in my anguish. Writing is sometimes very discouraging. However, reading this post has deflated my self-doubt and self-criticism. I am certain it will return…but now I will be prepared…
    Reflection is always such a difficult thing to do because it causes you the pain of knowing yourself and self-knowledge is not always desirable. It’s like listening to yourself leaving a message on an answering machine=disgusting! But when I do, I can not help but be thankful to every new lesson I have learned…even through my mistakes. At times I wished that I wouldn’t make such stupid mistakes. That I wouldn’t even bother and just stay silent. But to avoid this completely, would be not living. Albert Einstein said, “He who never makes any mistakes, never tries anything new.”
    I know this sounds odd, but even if I fall flat on my face, I still want to give it my best shot. Through my faults, I have been given the gift of perseverance; to keep on going for my goals because, even if they are not perfect now, they will be one day. Though the sun might not shine today, there is always a new dawn tomorrow, and that is a hope worth living for.
    I would like to finish, by just saying that you are very inspiring to me (and that I really, really love your books!). Thank you so much, Katie.
    God bless you and all you Wordplayers!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      “like a gigantic cup of freshly brewed coffee… and an endless library of excellent books to read and worlds to discover.”

      My favorite! 🙂

      And thank you for sharing *your* struggles and your resolutions. They encourage me as well!

  16. Lincoln Clark says

    I have always struggled with the idea that, in order to be loved (accepted, cherished), I need to achieve something or behave in some particular way. The longer I live, the more I realize the faultiness of that mindset. The realization does NOT mean that I am able to change that mindset (at least not easily), but it is a start.

    I think your concept of “presence” comes closest to this. Stop, listen, accept that the listening is enough and that no one is demanding that you solve any problems. Better yet is the realization that the One who loves us does so unilaterally. He has taken care of all the problems that matter. When we accept that provision, He invites us to find peace and confidence in that love. It might enable us, then, to be content with focusing outward. Perhaps writing can flow from a desire to touch others with stories that make life better.

    Maybe not. 😛 I’m still at the start of that chain of thinking, afraid of what I might discover. Can I get a witness?

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Here’s a witness. 🙂 Especially to this: “The realization does NOT mean that I am able to change that mindset (at least not easily), but it is a start.”

  17. Bravo! I’ve always suspected there was another genre in you…..

  18. K,

    This is an inspiring post. Thank you for your transparency. The world continually shouts what writers/people should be doing. It’s refreshing to learn from people, such as yourself, who choose instead to be still and quiet enough to hear God’s whisper.
    Grace, peace, and joy to you.

  19. “Let me tell you: it’s so much easier to be the author of the story than it is to be one of the characters! It’s much easier to say, “Here’s what I want to have happen, and here’s how it will be so”—rather than to say, “Oh, gosh, look at that writing on the wall.”” <– This.

    Clearly, you've grown a lot during this year. Thanks for sharing, opening yourself up like this on the internet ain't easy. Whatever projects you do in the future, whether you write twenty more novels or never write another word of fiction but instead choose different projects, I'm sure what you've learned will manifest itself.

    I'm looking forward to your archetypical character arcs book!

  20. This is such an amazing post. As insightful or more so than the posts on archetype, etc. Shows in detail what I have known from experience – that crafting story is intimately tied to life itself. The imaginative faculty being the generative force in fulfillment on the page, and “on the stage.” I have felt at times like I am living a play within a play – Shakespeare said it. And as an INFJ (introverted, intuitive feeler), I can relate to how navigating the inner world and balancing it with the outer can be challenging. And I loved the concept of “discipline in the flow.” It reminds me of what Glenn Gers said about writing in bursts: https://youtu.be/uL0atQFZzL8?t=378.
    Bottom line: Life and art are NOT separate.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      “I can relate to how navigating the inner world and balancing it with the outer can be challenging.”

      So true.

  21. Sara Gentry says

    I really needed to hear this message today. Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. Wishing you a wonderful 2022.

  22. I have been struggling to find the words to convey how nourishing and enjoyable this particular entry of yours was. And I think that preceding sentence is about as good as I can do today.

  23. I totally appreciate the idea of rest. When I retired from teaching to become a writer, I allowed myself “a year of Jubilee” in which I pretty much said no to everything but reading (and taking a class I’ve always wanted to take). It didn’t last a year. But in those lovely 6 months, I read as I’ve never had time to read before, devouring well over 100 books of all quality, genre, and level. That was such a blessing – not to mention a fabulous kick-started for my writing. Sabbaticals are valuable. I’m glad you took one. The series on archetypes you produced in that season of rest was a great blessing to me. Looking forward to seeing where you go from here.

  24. I enjoyed reading about your timeout. Presence (Being Present) is effortless. But the mind and its activity do not realize it. Awareness for most people is something too close to be noticed! There is a tendency in living to focus externally for everything. Most people entangle themselves in bondage with dependency’s, desires, and needs of many kinds. Few find rest in a culture of conquest. True freedom has nothing to do with control over anything. All that is, exists only within awareness. Awareness is not something any can claim as something they own. But, the activity of thoughts is far too easy to identify with and as! Which is a mistake everyone falls into, or is pushed into by the habits, traditions, and desires of this environment into which we bloom and grow, eventually fading away in identification with the body. Life embraces all that is, including the imperceptible presence one is. (Other than identification with physical form.)
    Where will ones aspirations move? Will it be a river, an ocean, a lake, the sky, a universe of space within perception? No boundaries exit in awareness.
    Will life be encouraged and made more affirming by expressing visions of care, concern, and understanding? How may a writer express themself creatively in ways that inspire others to live embracing what everything shares in common? It is so easy to find threads of conflict, division, deception, secrecy, fear, anger, judgement, hostility, lack…
    The world needs inspiration in ways that encourage wholeness.
    So few recognize the wholeness and presence flowing in, through and around them in this eternal moment.
    It is nice to view your presence watching what flows without effort.
    Thank you for sharing.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Beautiful. In this especially I feel many layers of truth: “True freedom has nothing to do with control over anything.”

      • Michael Moore says

        I hope Clark goes back and reviews his comments. I see a huge serial that could form out of those concepts. ARCs with IMPACT!!

        Katie, I like the line “It is nice to view your presence watching what flows without effort.” Precisely what I observed as I read your non-fiction (non-writing (:-)) ). You have literally and literately surpassed all other author instructors I have ever encountered!! And you do it with a style and panache that invites one to light the fireplace, grab a pound of European dark chocolate, cuddle up in a favorite fleece blanket and shut out the world for days while reading and highlighting your whole series in one sitting!!!

        I couldn’t stop thinking about EVERY movie I have ever seen and how I could write spin-offs or edit the script for more impact and interest, and what I could REALLY do with the charactors in my unwritten works! Simply over-the-top amazing what you have produced!!

        As for the “True freedom has nothing to do with control over anything” statement, y’all (I love saying that as my daughter recently moved to Texas) should view the movie, “The Celestine Prophecy” as it is largely about that concept growing through precise stages in the world and what it takes to get there.

        Keep up the good work of also producing as a “non-writer” guiding the rest of us with your expertise that hits home with so much impact as to be so hugely inspiring!!

        • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

          “light the fireplace, grab a pound of European dark chocolate, cuddle up in a favorite fleece blanket”

          Sounds good to me! So glad you enjoyed the series. Thanks for the kind words.

  25. Hi, K,

    I’m so glad you’ve been refilling your tank. When you wrote that you keep looking over to your bookshelves, I thought I’d chime in and say, it took you 10 years to want to write as a kid – maybe giving in to exploring stories and enjoying reading tales will rekindle and top up your tank.

    Well done you for working your way out of burnout, and still loving what you do!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I like the idea that every thirty years of our life is a new start. By that logic, I’m only six years old this time around!

  26. Thanks for this post. I found it very empowering and I appreciated your honesty. So often we are told that we need to write “x” number of words per day, and end up feeling guilty about not doing that. As a writer, it’s easy to beat yourself up over what you don’t get done, as opposed to giving yourself permission not to do.

    As an aside, are you considering putting your “Archetypal Characters” writings in a book of some sort? I think it would be handy to have them all in one place. I for one would certainly buy it (ebook or print, either or).

  27. Cathy Robinson says

    Thank you for this powerful post!! I admire your courage and perseverance.

    After my most recent difficult year, my therapist said I had an “energy debt” to repay…this was a great concept for me to grasp. Just like financial debt that must be repaid, at that point in my life, I needed to rest and chill to ease the burnout and regain energy for life.

    Another helpful concept for me was learning that there are many different kinds of rest that we may need: mental, physical, emotional, spiritual, social, etc. Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith even has a quiz (and book) on the subject!

    Blessings to you in 2022. I appreciate you!!

    My biggest gifts from 2021 were
    • trying things I’d never done before and knowing that whatever happened
    would lead to growth
    • learning to let go of all sorts of things, including manuscripts
    • meditation can help with burnout

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      “I had an “energy debt” to repay…this was a great concept for me to grasp. Just like financial debt that must be repaid, at that point in my life, I needed to rest and chill to ease the burnout and regain energy for life.”

      Boy, do I relate! Thanks for sharing. I will check out Dalton-Smith’s book.

    • Michael Moore says

      Regarding your first gift to yourself, you sound like a 10-talents person (Parable of the Talents). Everything ventured, every thing gained. Well Done!!

      Regarding your second gift: Learning to let go is SO freeing to one’s spirit. An easy guideline to follow is to let go down to the level of “sufficient for our needs.”

  28. Janine Williams says

    Great stuff KM! All the best for 2022. Enjoy the journey!

  29. I wanted to verify this warmest robot thing for INTPs. Turns out my RAM is too low and it’s making my OS work too hard, which is being released as heat. #MysterySolved

  30. So, so good. Causing me to reflect.

    I give myself the gift of laughter—there have been too many funerals this month.

    I give myself the gift of bring present also. Here. On. In. Thankful. Find my three year old granddaughter. She’s always present!

    I give myself the gift of freedom—I don’t have to write everyday. But, I find that I am missing something when I don’t write.

    I give myself the gift of structure. It seems a direct opposite of freedom, but it enhances my freedom.

    Blessed 2022. Joy. Hope. Laughter.

  31. I am a writer who never finishes. For me, 2020-21 has been about trying to view writing as a practice, like meditation or tai chi, rather than focusing so much on producing a product. I am trying to unmask and outwit the writing gremlins who derail me, while at the same time realizing that I may never outwit them. I may never finish. And that is okay. I am still a writer. (Some days I believe this more than others.)

    I’ve also been trying to see being a writer as more than just…writing. When I consume other peoples’ writing, I am being a writer. When I consume potential inspiration from film or nature or wherever, I am being a writer. When I take care of my health, I am being a writer. When I support other peoples’ writing, I am being a writer.

    And speaking of supporting other peoples’ writing–there’s been scarcely a day this year when I haven’t had one of your insightful posts open on my computer for reference. I read them like candy. Which is saying something because I really…really…like candy.

    Thank you SO much for what you do.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      “I’ve also been trying to see being a writer as more than just…writing.”

      Absolutely. I have been working on this as well. Very glad you’re enjoying the site! 🙂

  32. To be honest, I did not work on my novel for all of 2021. Besides a few days a couple of weeks ago, just rereading the first few chapters, I haven’t done one thing. I’ve honestly felt super guilty over the whole thing. And I consider the whole project a failure, but now this article gives me hope.

    I guess my story isn’t a lost cause. Just reading this makes me realize how much I miss working on it, how much I miss my characters.

    I avoided reading your blog posts just because it made me feel even guiltier. It wasn’t your fault, it was my wrong mindset. And just for curiosity’s sake, I came here to see what you’ve been posting lately.

    Even though there are some doubts in my mind, I’m currently not regretting it.

    And I think I’ll get back to writing soon.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      There’s a time for everything. I think we understand this, deep down, but our “front brains” like to get in a fuss when the time we’re in doesn’t line up with where we *think* we should be. Don’t be too hard on yourself. As they say in Black Beauty, “‘Twill all come right in the end.” 🙂

  33. Thank you for sharing this, for your honesty and boldness. I always appreciate your introspective end/beginning of the year posts. I love how you share your journey and, in doing so, give others hope and guidance on theirs.

    I hadn’t written much fiction last year, though I was spending most of my time time on other creative pursuits. But it’s freeing to hear that even a professional such as yourself needs a healthy break and how much of a gift that can be to the soul.

    Just yesterday I saw this quote from FDR “Calm seas never made a good sailor” and I can’t help but think of how, whatever the weather, you’ve accepting things as they are and taken the opportunity to grow through the experience. Here’s to whatever gifts and challenges this new year brings!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Thanks, A.P. And, yes, there’s been quite a bit of seasickness along the way, but I think I’m getting my sea legs. 😉

  34. Adrienne Nesiba says

    Hey, Katie, thank you for sharing that interesting summary of your year and your insight , I have been taking my own hiatus from writing, mainly because of my illnesses that have interrupted everything I have done. I have never had any sicknesses that were like the two I battled and told you about, briefly. I would say my greatest gift this year, was of celebrating my 20th anniversary with my husband, on Disney World’s 50th anniversary, at Disney World, despite the pandemic, and with my husband and I both being cautious, and still going, even though we are both in “at risk” categories.Both of us, are Disney fanatics, and took home tests twice, after we returned. Spending time with my husband was a joy, and we got to know “things” about each other during the trip, and during my 2 1/2 week vacation, and I had no idea what I was missing from my companion, in our relationship. So that would be my number one gift to myself, understanding my husband when so much of my life has revolved around working, and my husband works at home, and I often wondered about him.
    I think I got off topic earlier, with my illnesses, I was left wondering, where has the last eight years gone? Good question and one to think about, but as much as my life has changed, the worst is over and I have found other valuable things in my life.

    Thanks for putting that question to us. It made me think, and this year was unique. I gave away several hours on Friday nights, so I am not groaning about being asked to work the occasional extra shift. Life is so much easier, and since I am now “Senior Star,” my pay has still increased. I also read religious readings daily, usually, and feel very, very lucky.

  35. Adrienne Nesiba says

    That should say, “Senior Staff,” I am the top staff at my program, and have been working with our agency the longest.

  36. Thanks for what you give us, in craft, but also in heart.

  37. Philip Guin says

    When I think of returning to an older version of myself, I think of someone who was always excited for the future, even to the chagrin of the present. As I’ve gotten older and been (occasionally) disappointed, I find that I’m not looking forward to a rosy future quite so much. But I think if I learned to hope a little more, the well would replenish itself more readily.

    Thinking on it, I found *literally boundless* energy in creating something new. Those same things may feel mundane to me now, but it’s not like there aren’t new places to go. I’ve just explored most of the readily available learning space there was, and have to work harder to find new things. (For context, I’m a game developer.)

    So maybe in the area of writing, you can find things that are new to revitalize a sense of curiosity. Or dive headfirst into the unknown just to see what happens. I’m not sure what that looks like, but now that I think about it… I have been teaching myself how to draw lately 🤔

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.