A writing exercise for the new year

It’s a couple of weeks into 2020, the celebrations that attach to Christmas and New Year have passed and some of the feelings that might also have been attached to them are possibly fading for you. For some of us, Christmas has been a stressful period or a time of sadness and isolation, and for others there has been joy and a sense of connection with friends or family. Similarly, the seeing out of the old year and bringing in of the new year can be a time of renewed energy but it can sometimes carry a terrible sense of flatness.

For me this has been heightened by the fact that it is the beginning of a whole new decade, twenty years in from the start of a new millennium which I’m still coming to terms with being in. Where did those twenty years go? I’ve been musing on this for the last two weeks and now I am ready to take stock of it in writing.

How do you feel about it? Perhaps you’d like to join me in this simple two stage writing exercise aimed at exploring your feelings about the last year that’s passed (or decade if you’d like to cast a wider net) and your hopes for the year to come.

  1. Letter to the year that’s passed:

Start a new page, write “Dear 2019” (or “Dear 2010s” if you like) and then just begin to write whatever comes to mind. Let your mind go where it wants to and don’t worry about whether it has a coherent narrative – you may find yourself writing about specific things that have happened or how you’ve felt just generally over the year made you feel in general.

Notice your emotions as you think about the year, you can even underline them as you write if you like, but don’t judge them, just let them be there in the letter to 2019. The letter you write could turn out to be a thank you letter to 2019 for being such a great year or it might be a complaint, it could be a love letter to something or someone you’ve lost over that year, it might be a happy letter or it might be an angry letter, it may be a letter of mixed emotions. You might grieve for the passing of 2019 or you might be glad to see the back of it! Whatever it turns out to be, just accept it as it is.

When you’ve finished writing, sign it off from yourself however you want to and then take a few minutes to read it out aloud to yourself, to the air, and absorb the sound of those words.

  1. Letter to the year to come:

This time, before you start your new page, take a moment to think about what you want for the year/ decade to come: how would you like it to be different from 2019? What would you like to stay the same? What good things would you like to build upon or grow? What would you like to leave behind? Don’t worry too much at this stage about how you’re going to make these things possible, just make some space for possibility and let your hopes have some freedom. Again, notice your emotions as you do this, note them down if you like or underline them.

Begin a new letter addressed to 2020 and start writing just as you did above.  When you’ve finished writing, sign it off from yourself however you want to and then take a few minutes to read it out aloud to yourself, to the air, and absorb the sound of those words. As you do this, try not to judge yourself or your hopes, just simply let them be as they are.

With this exercise, you may be surprised by the power contained in both what you write and how it feels to read it aloud.


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