Writing the next chapter: What story will you tell in 2015?

Image source: ‘English girl riding bike’ from Riding Pretty blog

Image source: ‘English girl riding bike’ from Riding Pretty blog

My first post for 2015 is bike-themed, because Tim and I went for a bike ride this morning to kick off the new year. No need to peddle old ideas when you can pedal into the future!

There are always endless possibilities for New Year’s Resolutions. Finish your novel. Lose weight. Find The One. Change jobs. Get to Mordor and drop the ring in Mount Doom. The usual.

As Dave Beck, NaNoWriMo Technical Director, puts it: “In the end, isn’t everything—from relationships to careers to geopolitics—about the narratives we choose? The narratives we write?”

So here’s what my resolutions are all about:

Write a good story with your life. A true hero need only be a person who sets goals and overcomes conflict to achieve them.
(paraphrasing Donald Miller in A Million Miles in a Thousand Years)

Image source: Our wedding photos by Kyle and Elissa Johnson, Slade Portraits

Image source: Our wedding photos by Kyle and Elissa Johnson, Slade Portraits

Last year I wrote my story as well as I could. I had goals, and I overcame obstacles to achieve them. After the usual stresses of preparation, I married the right man for me and enjoyed decorated our new home with the artworks I made with my own hands. I left a job I didn’t enjoy and worked hard at building my editing business so I could continue to do the editing work that I love. I made time to do some of the adventures I enjoy like bushwalking and beach trips, both with friends and by myself for much-needed and much-appreciated “God dates”. Halfway through the year life got really difficult for a time as I found I had some severe struggles to work through, so I asked for help when I needed it and I trusted God to get me through. I began submitting one novel to publishers, entered as many short story competitions as I could, and completed NaNoWriMo again. And I showered as much love as I could on the people I care about.

So here are the few things that I felt went into writing a good story with my life in 2014, and what I’ll be trying to seek out again in 2015.

Image source: Sarah Killey Photography

Me and Tim holding hands at the altar.
Image source: Sarah Killey Photography

Make adventures for yourself worth writing home about.

Image source: Bernadette McClure and her bike riding cats on Vimeo from the Cats Need blog

Image source: Bernadette McClure and her bike riding cats on Vimeo from the Cats Need blog

So, today’s bike ride started our day with a 6am bike ride. (Context: That’s too early for me. And yet it was already so hot that I was drenched with sweat at the end!) It was my first bike ride in about 5 years, and I spent the entire ride praying, “Oh God, if you make sure I don’t crash into anything and fall off and skin my knees like I used to every time I would get on a bike, then I will do anything you ask.”

Anyway the point is, for me that was an adventure – a scary thing that I did because it was something we wanted to do together. It was worth it because I overcame the obstacles of fear in order to reach my goal.

Enjoy some funnies.

This kitten slowly waves its arms during a nap: (Sounds simple but it is hilariously cute.)

After all, we know that it’s worth laughing, even just for the minute the video takes, because we’re more creative when we are happy! (See my post about this here: https://tjwithers.com/2014/09/19/happiness-and-creativity/)

Image source: Rumble Viral

Image source: Rumble Viral

Don’t try and go it alone.

You have people who love you. (Even if you don’t think you do.) No matter how busy you are, I have found that there is always time to make time for people. You need it. When you start to feel tired with work, study, or life drama, take a “hug break”.

Image source: ‘10 Cyclists Joy Jump Genting Sempah – Janda Baik Bike Ride’  from AhPek Biker blog by Jotaro

Image source: ‘10 Cyclists Joy Jump Genting Sempah – Janda Baik Bike Ride’
from AhPek Biker blog by Jotaro

Inspire joy in your life.

Image source: Kay Ellen

Image source: Kay Ellen

I got this idea from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, a book which runs along the lines of Japanese minimalism. (Tangent: Found this book through this wonderful little site, Modern Mrs. Darcy. Love it!)

“Personal tidying expert” Marie Kondo says that if you desire to de-clutter your life, one of the main things you should do is throw out anything that does not inspire joy for you. Keep only the things that bring you joy.

That ugly dress that you never wear – donate it to the opp shop. That recipe that you cook once a week that you actually don’t enjoy eating – chuck it in the bin. That friend who is just a pointless drain on your energy and happiness – only go there when you absolutely need to.

Focus on the things that bring you joy. Wear your favourite clothes. Cook your favourite meals. Hang out with your favourite people.

It’s not an entirely narcissistic theory. Once your life is de-cluttered, and you are finding more joy in daily life, it’s easy to do all the hard things again.

When you get stuck, try something different.

This is the “Artikcar Bike” invented by Ben Wilson. When you get stuck in a rut doing things the way you’ve always done them, try doing something differently.

I changed jobs, but you don’t need to go that drastic. I’ve talked a lot about writer’s block and how to get out of it (e.g. Tamora Pierce’s tips, Sting’s story, and all my research into how incubation breaks through mental barriers and even how sleeping can help you find new solutions in the morning), and this is the same principle.

Image source: Thecoolist.com

Image source: Thecoolist.com   

Image source: Thecoolist.com

Image source: Thecoolist.com

If you’re like me, finding a “different” way may mean asking others for their helpful ideas. Although I can easily edit the work of others and see alternatives when they’ve gotten stuck, I often suck at thinking outside the box for my own projects. (This is why you should always get help editing your own work.)

Expect some surprises – good and bad.

On Christmas Eve, I had the disappointing realisation that I already knew what all of my Christmas presents were going to be. It was my own fault. I’ve repeatedly told Tim how much I hate surprises (I meant bad surprises). And I’d pointed out a few things at the shops with the oh-so-innocent, “Oh, wouldn’t that would make a great gift for me?”

But upon seeing my expression at this realisation, Tim hatched a plan. That night, he waited until I fell asleep, then snuck out of the house and bought me a huge box of my favourite Lindt chocolates.

It was my most wonderful surprise of 2014. 🙂

Image source: Lindt Chocolate Shop in Freeport Village Station, USA

Image source: Lindt Chocolate Shop in Freeport Village Station, USA

I hope some of these tidbits helped inspire you for the start of a new year of creativity! Looking forward to lots of great conversations with all of you this year.

What are your goals and desires for 2015?

This post was written by TJ Withers-Ryan © 2015. Reblogging is always highly encouraged as long as you credit me as the author.

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