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Forest North | Holistic writing and editorial support for writers at every stage of their journey. Nonfiction & all flavors of fiction welcome here.


A blog focused on writing process, effective writing, effective narration, the writing culture at large, and supporting writers and authors as they do their best work.

Our same old selves; a brand new year

Brenda Peregrine


2015 has ended.

The weight of the past year is enormous here. There’s a natural sense of conclusion, and a natural urge to turn backwards in order to evaluate the passage of time. 

If you’re like me, and you feel that urge to ruminate, be kind to yourself. The days are short already, the holidays will be and are and were, and adding the burden of misplaced goals or missed opportunities is only going to prevent you from moving forward in the days ahead.

But there’s also this pull forward, a pull into the glittery newness of 2016.

I’m not a fan of resolutions, and I won’t be making any. I am counting on the fact that I will still be myself in the coming year. I don’t want to ten-step-plan myself out of existence. Not this time around the sun.

But I am noticing that we’re in this liminal space, tucked between the ending of one phase of our lives and before the next has begun.

We are on the cusp. And being on the lip of anything is uncomfortable.

For so many of us creative types, this is the between stage, where we’re juggling our achievement (or lack of it), assessing our finished projects (or lack of them), and beginning to nourish this sentiment: next year is going to be different.

And it may be. I’m hoping that 2016 will be different than 2015 myself, and I’m making a commitment to myself to make it that way.

But what I want to say here is this: you don’t need to be a different person to do things differently in 2016.

You don’t need to find your soul mate, get a promotion, or commit to a daily word count (especially this) if you want your creative life to be different in 2016.

You are already the person who can write the book, start the blog, craft the sales copy. Whatever. All of the pieces, all the fundamental blocks of that project—they are all already there.

Don’t trick yourself into thinking that you have to be completely different person to have a different outcome.

It’s easy to do. It’s easy to planner-ize and gym membership-ize yourself here in this between space. When you have the desire, but it’s not yet time for the action. And sometimes those kinds of tools and changes really do support our creative growth and output, so if you feel the deep urge, don’t ignore it either.

But what I want you to know, in your bones, is this: you don’t have to fundamentally change who you are to write the book you want to write.

And in fact, the creative work that calls to you requires that you actually lean in to yourself, embrace your idiosyncrasies, your quirks, your youness. The unique way you participate in and witness the world. The patina of your experiences.

Creating the book you desire, delivering the writing you desire…it doesn’t require that you carve out the least efficient parts of yourself and soldier on, bleeding and brave.

It requires that you make space for yourself. Allow yourself to honor your process, whether it’s measured or sloppy. Commit to making time to doing the things that you want to do. Gently.

And this can be so frustrating. It is hard to work this way. It’s hard to look at yourself and say, “Yes, this strangeness here, this can stay.”

Adopting someone else’s plan, their resolutions, their approach, well, it offers you the opportunity to sidestep the acceptance of (and honest look at) yourself. It allows yourself to substitute some imaginary robot you (Brenda 2.0!) for the flawed human version.

It’s always easier to pummel a thing into submission than to nurture it.

But even if it’s difficult, I believe with every fiber of my self that you can do this work.

You already are the writer you want to be.

You’re already the author you want to be.

You have everything you need to do the work that calls to you.

But—for now—all we can do is ride the cusp. One year will end. The next one will begin.

And you, and me, and everyone else who wants to, we can just go forth as we are.

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