NaNo What Now?

Finding your editing process, revising your NaNoWriMo book and building a writing career through publishing and beyond

Building a Writing Life

start a writing habit, find time to write, discover your process and commit to your writing dreams Non-Fiction

Happy new years, friends! Is it just me or has this year simultaneously been flying by and also felt it’s already been at least five years long?

Have you managed to wrap your head around the whole 2020 thing yet? I still can’t write it without feeling like I should replicate myself some earl grey and hop into my flying car. That somehow what my brain has always pictured as the future is the present is beyond the capacity of my imagination.

Speaking of imagination, I’m going to need you to use yours and pretend I posted this in January. I spent December in a twinkled haze of Lysol wipes and ginger while my kids battled a stomach virus which they followed up with one illness after another going into the new year and I’m still getting caught back up. They are also still sick but apparently that is just our life now!

(Did you know there is no punch card reward system for cleaning up vomit? Seems like after the 10th time you should at least get one free! Relatedly, being an adult is terrible and I do not even remotely recommend it.)

If you haven’t set any new year’s resolutions yet, please feel free to help yourself to one of mine…

This year, I resolve to…

  • Keep myself so busy I don’t have time to stare into the yawning void of the uncertain future.
  • Look at screens less, faces more. 
  • Make the most of the time I have with my kids, especially since my baby starts school next fall. (Yes, already. I know! 😭
  • Send so many things out into the world that, when I get a rejection back, my only reaction is, “…and you are?” (Hard to take any one “No” personally when you’ve sent out so many you don’t even recall submitting in the first place!)
  • Do the thing!

Speaking of resolutions, it’s a brand new year, a brand new decade and the wide world of marketing is screaming at you that you need a new you, new habit, new lease on life and, instead, I want to take a moment to remind you of the wise words of my girl Elsa of Arendelle…

This song is such a mood.

Let it go.

And, yes, I mean EXACTLY that thing you’re thinking of.

If it’s not essential…

If it doesn’t spark joy…

If it feels like this dark lump of UGH in the corner of your mind…

Then it’s time to resolve to take a deep breath, damn the sunk costs and make this the year you drop that thing out of your life and right off the cliff of oblivion.

Who decided that the New Year was only about adding? Sometimes letting go can be just as transformative.  Instead of heaping even more into your already overbooked schedule, forge a new you by cutting off whatever is holding you back.

Are you looking for permission?

Fine. You’ve got mine.

Do it. 

Cut it out.

Drop it off your list.

Let it go.

It’s not a failure to admit your priorities have changed.

YOU have changed.

Just because something mattered to you once, doesn’t mean it has to matter to you for the rest of your life.

It’s advice I’m taking myself.

A few weeks ago, I officially trunked a novel I’ve been working on since 2007. (Longtime internet buddies may remember it as the YA novel nicknamed Mistress Novel that I started while cheating on my main writing project.) For years, I had kept it near the top of my list of goals out of more of a sense of obligation than actual passion for it. That I had already invested so much time into it, that it had been so well received by agents and readers, and even the fact that I had had it on my list of goals for so long all contributed to this feeling that I couldn’t let it go.

But I could. And I did.

Part of my goal setting for this year meant taking a good long look at my goals and not just what they were but also WHY I was setting them and I realized: I didn’t want to work on this book anymore. Not now, anyway.

And though taking it off my list felt a little bittersweet, like closing the door on a friendship that drifted apart, there was also a tremendous rush of freedom. That project had been mental clutter holding me back from pursuing other projects, an open door that let in a distracting draft. And the very best thing I could have done for my writing life was realizing that I could just walk away.

So set goals for the new year.

Make plans for the decade ahead.

Add new habits into your life and strode confidently in the direction of your wildest dreams.

But never forget that you can always let that ehhh thing go to make room in your life for more YES!


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About the Author

Hillary DePiano is a playwright, fiction and non-fiction writer who loves writing of all kinds except for writing bios like this.

Books and Plays by Hillary DePiano


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