Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New Year's Treat--A Presume Exercise for Writers

What's your dream for your book this year? Try a simple new-year's exercise to find out. It's called a presume--a word coined by Tony Fanning and Robbie Fanning, authors of a fabulous book called Get It All Done and Still Be Human, which changed my life when I read it twenty years ago. As clearly as a resume shows your past, a presume shows your future. You are using a principle called "acting as if." Believe me, it works!

Want to try it? Imagine yourself a year from today. Write the date at the top of your page: January 6, 2010.

Now, writing in the present tense, compose a few sentences about where you are with your writing on that date. "I am..." "I have completed..." "I finally discovered..." Use these excerpts from students in my creative-writing workshops if you need clues:

Scott: "It's New Year's Day and I just printed out the complete first draft of my novel! All because I finally got a handle on the important characters. They're coming alive, it's totally exciting. I even know--I think!--where to take them next."

Martha: "This year has been good for my writing in that I finally understand what this book is about. By February, I worked out a regular writing schedule, which I kept to more or less, and B. and the kids have been very supportive."

Celeste: "After some deep thinking, I realized I needed a break from the book and took a couple of really outstanding poetry classes. They re-energized me creatively. I'm back at work on the manuscript but it's not a burden."

What would have to happen, both professionally and personally, for you to feel completely happy with your writing progress this coming year? Write your presume any way you wish--as a business card, a poem, a journal entry, a list of items. Put it away and let it work its magic.

Next week, we'll look at action steps to make the presume real, a technique called Reverse Goal-Setting.