Vision: A Resource for Writers

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Words for a New Year

By Linda Hanson
Copyright © 2007 by Linda Hanson, All Rights Reserved

Resolutions often sound the same: I plan to lose the haunting ten pounds or I resolve to exercise more, eat healthier. One year I decided it was time to find a new approach to the coming year. I picked a word to inspire me.

The first year I felt out of control, so the word organize was on my fridge. The next year it was accomplish. The word served as an important reminder to me. Picking a word for the New Year became my tradition. I started when my children were young and I needed to organize to accomplish things like laundry with a full-time job and a family.

As I started seriously writing when my children left home, my working resolutions began to take on different tones: I plan to shred the haunting rejection letters, I resolve to send out more, try harder. Then I decided there had to be new rules about the word I picked for the year. It had to be positive, and it had to be a verb.

When asked what my resolution was at the end of December, I would explain my one word tradition. Family and friends began to be aware of my habit. Every time the discussion of resolutions came up, people would turn to me for my word. Until you try it, you might not understand the challenge of defining what you plan to accomplish with only one word. Writers like to expound on their words.

This tradition inspired others to pick a word. Although I have to admit as the year progressed, words fell by the way side in the same way as resolutions. Friends would admit they forgot their words. I never did. However, words are my passion.

My sister announced one year at a family holiday gathering that we should have word partners, to inspire each other all year. We drew names. I seriously researched quotation books to inspire my partner. My warning is that unless your word partner is serious about the word, the reciprocation will not be of the same intensity as what you might invest.

This past year my word was persevere. I took the plunge, retiring from a thirty-year career to give my writing a chance. My husband became a patron of the arts. It is unsettling not to have a steady income after you've had a paycheck since you were sixteen. So far, I have persevered -- not even reading any want ads, ignoring signs stating help wanted as I walk in stores. When I recently talked to a friend from an old writing group in another state, I inadvertently used my word while I talked to her, she asked me, “Is persevere your word this year?” I admit I forgot my old group knew about my habit. I was delighted she remembered.

It is almost time to pick a new word. I have not perused the dictionary to decide what word will be in bold letters above my desk next year. I do know it will be positive and a verb. I do know whatever word I choose, it will stick with me throughout the year. While I will probably end another year with the haunting ten pounds and without shredding all the rejections I receive, I will end the year aware of what I set out to maintain.

As writers, you already know what a difference one word can make. Challenge yourself to one defining word for the New Year. Spread my tradition. Develop my habit. Discover. Achieve. Do.