Chris Guillebeau

Three Powerful Words for an Amazing New Year

It's a little bit of a thing to come up with words for the year.  Christine Kane chooses one word to live by.  Chris Brogan chooses three.  And since I'm a bit of a lush, and always seem to want more, I go along with Chris and opt to choose three.

Last year I chose the words radical, fierce, and profound for my words.  (And in that post I also discussed our society's penchant for using words in groups of three, check it out, this little trick is something writers need to remember.) Note_desk_paper_237717_l

This year, in an email to his list, Chris added a new twist. (Actually, he's probably always done it this way and I just never got it before. Sometimes it takes me awhile.) Make your three words actionable, then every day make a list with a single task that will move you forward a bit with each word.  I love this idea.  It takes a theoretical concept that is easy to forget and cements it into the daily world.

Because I'm going to be putting these words into action, I thought a lot about which words I would choose.  Here's what I came up with:

  • Creativity
  • Faith
  • Inquiry

Let me dig a bit deeper into each word and how I perceive its meaning.


Yeah, I know.  Duh.  We're writers.  Writers write.  And writing is creative.  So of course its going to be one of my words.  But I mean it in both a broader and a more specific way.  Let me explain.  Next year, I want to spend more time relaxing through intentionally creating and less time relaxing through unintentional activities.  Like when I need a mental break and spend an hour mindlessly surfing the internet.  Next year, I want to remember to step away from the computer and doodle.  Or paint. Or knit.  All activities which soothe my soul and actually encourage my writing.  (And I have some ideas for posts that will explain how I use such projects to spark writing ideas.) That's what I mean by the broader way. 

Here's what I mean by being creative in a specific way: I want to write more.  I know, I already write a lot.  I do.  But I want to write more.  And by that I mean that I want writing to be the thing I spend the most time at, whether that manifests as writing blog posts, writing fiction, book proposals, or ghostwriting, I want it to take up the bulk of my days.  This year I've gone a bit astray, spending more time focusing on my business and marketing than I would like.  Yes, its necessary to a certain extent.  I've just let it dominate and I need to pull things back around.

How will I make creativity a part of each day? Most importantly, by putting writing first.  That means getting up and going to the page, be that page my journal or my work in progress.  And it also means getting my hands engaged in some kind of art or craft project daily (even something as simple as doodling for five minutes), or nearly daily, and seeing what happens. 


Yes, this implies faith in God, which is important to me, but it is also bigger than that.  I want to go forth into the new year with full and complete faith in myself, in my abilities, in my career and my ideas.  I want to have faith in the ongoing evolution that is taking place in the world, faith that 2012 will be an amazing and adventurous year.  I want to remember to have faith in my family, my friends, my church, my community, my country and the world.  I want to have faith in my ability to go deep within and bring the riches I find there to the world.

How will faith manifest in my life on a daily basis?  Through prayer and meditation, for starters.  It's such a cliche, but there's no other way to access those inner treasures through getting still and listening.  And then spending some time asking for what you want.  (In my world, meditation=listening, prayer=asking, probably the order should be reversed.) I also like using affirmations, though my viewpoint has changed a bit on that recently.  I don't like using the specific ones (I am now financially free) as I like what I call helper affirmations (I can do all things through Christ, this pattern in me that strengthens me) or questions (how does it get any better than this? see next section).


Lately, I find myself questioning everything.  We have so much information thrown at us and it's easy to nod your head and agree with the party line.  For instance, the recommendation to meditate is something that we hear all the time.  But does it really work for you?  I've pondered that and realized that it does work for me, in the scrappy-ass way I do it, which is why I discussed it above.  But maybe it truly doesn't ring your bell.  So don't do it. The important thing is to inquire about everything.  Recently Chris Guillebeau wrote a post (and a manifesto) about how he didn't agree with the common advice to seek balance.  He says if you're truly intent on a goal, you ought to go for it full out.  I was thrilled to see him poke holes in the sacred cow of balance.   He had the guts to question it, which caused me to, also. And I concluded that, at least for me, he was wrong.  Or more to the point, I didn't agree with him.

I've also had a great deal of success using questions as affirmations, which is a form of questioning the universe.  I learned this after reading a book written by the guys who do Access Consciousness.  I'm by no means an expert in this modality, but I've found that their simple tools are really quite magical.  Ask yourself: how does it get any better than this?  Or: what would it take for X to happen? Or: what's right about this situation? Or: what am I not seeing here? Then the universe (or God if your prefer) responds, most often in interesting and unexpected ways. 

The way I will put this into action in my daily life is twofold.  First, simply by remembering to respond to life events with the above questions.  And second, to remember to dig deeper and ask questions.  If someone recommends something, I'll stop and think about it instead of readily agreeing just because its the party line.  The thought occurs that another question that will work well this year, is the simple one from Byron Katie: Is is true?

Well, Gee-zus, I didn't mean to run on quite so long. So, tell me: what are your three words for 2012?  How will you put them into action?

*And remember, no matter what your three chosen words are for 2012, if writing is among your goals you might want to look into my Make Money Writing class which begins in January.


Photo by lupoianfla.

Writing in the Rain: Monday Morning Round-up

Falling_water_rain_279538_h It is raining this morning.  I know, I know, I live in Oregon, its to be expected.  And, truthfully, I don't mind.  I love going out for a walk in the rain and coming back inside where its cozy, warm, and dry, to curl up with my writing or my reading.

And this morning my reading served up two good nuggets.

First, while eating my yogurt and nuts I read a review, by Jeff Baker, of Annie Proulx's recent lecture in Portland.  Apparently, she loves research and reads voraciously.  But what I loved the most about this article the advice she gave out to writers at a small private meeting the next morning (I sulked for a little while about not being invited).  Here are some of the gems:

  • Use times when you are waiting in line, for a flight, whatever, to work on descriptions of people.
  • Read your work aloud to yourself.  (Whenever I read my work or do a lecture, I always take a pen with me to the podium, because I can't help but edit when I hear myself read.)
  • Listen to the way people speak around you–hear regional dialects and everyday speech.
  • Draw a landscape to remember it.
  • For a writing project, research the years around your birth.  What was the world like back then?
  • Be interested in what you write.

Read the full article here.  It is worth it, there's some real gems.

And then, when I opened my inbox, I found a fabulous article by Chris Guillebeau, who gives reliably good advice, whether it is on travel hacking or creating your own unique way in the world.  The title of the post is "How to Write 300,000 Words in 1 Year," and in it he gives good tips on focus, one of my favorite topics.

One bit:

"Make your art your obsession.  Fall in love with it. Experience withdrawal symptoms when you don't give it your attention."

And another:

Rather than worry about quality, "Worry instead about getting your words in. [He strives for 1,000 per day, and he wrote this post while waiting for a delayed flight at the Nairobi airport.] Wake up early, stay up late, use that notebook you are carrying, appropriate those ten or fifteen-minute breaks in the day with nothing scheduled."

There's other good stuff on this post as well.

What are you best tips for writing?  Care to share?

***One of my best writing tips is to start with the images.  Learn how by downloading a free copy of my Ebook, Jump Start Your Book With a Vision Board.  Sign up in the form to the right and you'll also get a free subscription to my newsletter!

Photo credit: imageafter, from Everystockphoto.