For many of us, the final days of 2020 left unanswered questions, unfinished chapters, a myriad of confusion, and no specific direction. We had hoped that when the calendar year turned to 2021, we would witness the strewn pieces of the broken puzzle magically putting themselves back together again. As much as we would like to see this happen it, unfortunately, doesn’t work that way. Rebuilding what was torn down, whether professional or personal, and starting over from a new place of contentment are choices from which the foundation is built – on daily small moves and decisions. We have pick up the pen, put it to paper, and begin to decide how to structure the next chapters of our individual lives. You may know what to write, and you may not. Sometimes the strength and change for the better comes out of simply putting something down.
When I was studying for my undergraduate college degree in theatre, I had to take a scenic design course. For the final exam, we had to build a scenic model on a small scale to fit an actual stage. It was arts and crafts time involving some serious math, and I was mortified. I didn’t know where to start. My brain began to spiral with a plethora of different questions and panic-stricken thoughts: “Which part of the scale model should I work on first? I don’t even know what colors I should use for my backdrop!” My instructor immediately noticed the panic on my face and came over to see how he could help. He asked me what was wrong, and I quickly responded, “I don’t know where to start! There’s so much to be done and it’s all so overwhelming.” With a calm demeanor, he firmly replied, “I can’t help you unless you put something down or make some sort of decision on the direction you want to go in. You have to take each piece of this model in segments… one segment at a time. You can do it.” He was right. As soon as I began to give myself some sort of creative direction, even if it wasn’t perfect, it always lead me to the next decision. I could always go back and edit, but at least I was going somewhere. Where are you going? How do you want to begin the next chapter? Even if the answer isn’t clear, you have to put something down. Anything.
If you’ve felt as though 2020 stopped you dead in your tracks with no motivation, no inspiration, or drive to even do anything that might lead to something great, you shouldn’t fret or even regret what you didn’t do. The year was not lost. It was a stepping-stone and a vehicle for the next chapter, and it may have given you a glimpse of where to go next. You can start a new chapter or pick up where you left off before the perils of 2020 hit. There is still time to make decisions, dream again, and get something down on paper. They don’t need to be huge moves or lengthy plans – just put the pen to paper and see what comes out.
And if you’re still having writer’s block, that’s ok. It’s part of the process to discover what to write in your next chapter and what decisions to make. Your mind is still working, and your desires remain. It’s the discovery part of the process that takes time, and it’s the life edits that craft a consistent and compelling story. So, even if you don’t know what to call your next chapter, and your brain doesn’t know how to craft a cohesive paragraph for the continuation of your journey, you can always start with: “In this next chapter, here’s the story I would like to create…” I’ll bet the writer’s block will gradually disappear.
Claire Friday is a producer, writer, director, and public speaker who resides in Las Vegas. Last year, Claire gave a TEDx at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky. More information can be found on her website at clairefriday.com.