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Each December, I choose a focus word for the following year. The process helps me centre in on where I want my attention to be for the year ahead.

Disclosure: when I say ‘Each December’, what I really mean is that I have done this twice and both times, I found it helpful. (My family culture is full of stories which begin You know how we always used to…’ when in fact what we mean is, ‘You know how we once…’)

For next year, I’m considering the word ‘Courage’.

Courage is at the heart of writing.  Trusting yourself, holding tight to hope, stepping out into the unknown – all of this asks for courage.

Creativity relies on courage. So does luck.

Social scientist Richard Wiseman spent a year observing and interviewing people who considered themselves lucky. The one common element he found was what he referred to as ‘openness’ – the willingness to be open to new people or situations. It kind of follows – a random person, a random moment, a chance encounter, can lead to a situation one might call ‘lucky’. The more of these you let yourself have, the ‘luckier’ you’ll get.

Chance encounters. Openness. Random occurrences. These are the makings, apparently, of luck. But they’re also the makings of creativity. They might be the spark of an idea that bursts out during a visit to a new place, the new understanding of a character that emerges while talking to a new acquaintance, or the perfect sentence that arrives while listening to a previously undiscovered piece of music.

Look, I’m not suggesting that if you’re an introvert (I am, surprisingly enough), you immediately change your own self and start going out to parties every night. The very thought is exhausting! (That line should be spoken while clutching at the closest thing you have to pearls…)

 Rather than a temperament shift, I simply want to suggest this week that you allow yourself to be open to those elements of chance in your writing and in your writing life. Try putting something in your writing that seems totally random: an off-the-wall event, an entirely unexpected visitor, a strange, unlooked-for gift. Then start through your writing to make the connections.

Have the courage to be open to them, because if they connect to your own instinct, you might find gold.

By which I mean, you might find your own creative self.


Today’s prompt:

I have a confession to make…