Is an internal no affecting your writing life? Consider this.

On April 1, 2022, we entered the new moon in Aries, a day some consider the astrological new year. The first of April is also the beginning of the second quarter and my birth month. 

A new moon, a new quarter, and a birthday offer you a chance to explore what you’d like to manifest and where you’d like to go. Often, we think this process is linear. But like some stories, our forward motion typically meanders and spirals around itself.

If life’s running smoothly, setting new goals is easy. But when we’re experiencing setbacks, it can be difficult to decide what to work on. That stress can lead us to search for “right” answers outside of ourselves.  

But you have everything you need inside you. To access your wisdom, you need to recognize your yesses and your noes.

At a primal level, your yesses and noes live in the body. Yesses arrive in dreams, a good night’s sleep, a sense of calm, a gut instinct, or a peaceful knowing about where to go next. Noes often show up as tightness or illness. Think back and neck pain, a tight jaw, sleep problems, or digestive troubles. The more we ignore our noes, the louder our bodies speak. 

So how does that relate to the work required for this season?

Take some time to assess your body. What’s coming up? Could your physical state or symptoms be related to your project or something else you need to address? Journal about the messages you’re receiving and the reason you might struggle to say no thank you to the opportunities (or challenges) you face.

After you’re clear about your current yesses and noes, revisit your first quarter: What did you hope to accomplish? What did you actually accomplished? What wins did you have?If there’s a gap between your hopes and your actuality, what caused the disconnect Is the gap trying to teach you something? Were there some yesses and noes you ignored? What lessons did you learn?

So much of our writing lives exist in an ambiguous and stress-filled place where the way ahead is unclear, and it feels like we’re perpetually behind an enormous learning curve.

After you’ve had a chance to review your first quarter, celebrate your wins—even the micro ones, like showing up. This is how you’ll sustain yourself.

Next, find a way to love yourself more by treating yourself with compassion. Check out Kristen Neff’s website on Self-Compassion and try one of her excellent meditations. Say I love you to yourself in the mirror. Let yourself rest and have fun. This is how you’ll mind the gap between your goals and your accomplishments.

Once that work has been done, create your second-quarter goals. Then ask yourself the following questions: Are they specific? Are they measurable? Are they time limited? Are they realistic? Do they support your deepest goals? Do they honor your first-quarter lessons learned? What might get in you way? How will you cope with this?

Yesterday, I met with my accountability partner so we could go over our April goals. During the first quarter, I made slow but steady progress on my memoir revisions. Yet as I was working, an internal no kept popping up. At first, I tried to ignore it, thinking showing would give me clarity. But the no persisted. So I pressed pause on my memoir and returned to therapy so I could honor and understand my body’s message.

At the start of our meeting, I felt incredibly anxious because I’d failed to achieve the goals I’d established. Yet, when I told my accountability partner I was trying to honor my noes, her body visibly relaxed. She’d been feeling the same way and worried about disappointing me. We agreed to give ourselves a three-week hiatus from our projects so we could spend time with our noes and write something fun.

We often think of writing as a “doing” practice that involves showing up, writing, and revising on constant repeat. But the pause is also part of a healthy writing practice—even when we’re not at a point of completion. Taking a pause, if that’s what your story asks for, is not failure. It’s part of the cycle that refreshes and reframes your project. Because of this, pausing from time to time is a worthy goal to set for yourself. 

What’s one goal you hope to accomplish in the second quarter?
If the pause is calling to you, how will you allow yourself to “be” rather than “do?” 

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