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by Judith Couchman

It’s a few days before Christmas and honestly, we’re caught in the activities, expectations, and last-minute details before ribbons and wrapping paper decorate our floors.

But eventually, after gathering the torn and discarded, we sometimes participate in a quieter post-holiday ritual. How will we spend that gift card, cash, or check? If you’re blessed with plastic or money, I’ve a writerly suggestion. Purchase items to usher you into a new writing year. Items that affirm your calling and confidently usher you into the new writing year. How about these ideas?

A book that inspires your call and upcoming work. For over twenty years, one of my New Year’s goals has included, “Reading an inspirational book about writing.” Hopefully, in January. Not a book that improves technique, but rather, a title to reaffirm and inspire my identity as a writer. A book that says Yes, writing is an honorable profession. Yes, you are a writer. Yes, time spent writing is never wasted. Yes, readers want your work. The book might not declare these affirmations directly, but when I finish reading, I’ve absorbed the value, dignity, and pleasure of writing. I’m ready to roll. With a book about writing, you’ll hand yourself the gift of inspiration–a present that influences you throughout the year.

A journal for thoughts and plans. Also in January, I look forward to selecting a new journal for the year. I’m not frugal about this. The material, color, image, paper, and closure matter to me. I choose a journal unlike one I’ve previously owned. I use the journal to record ideas, plans, quotes, outlines, brainstorming, and anything related to my writing. This includes sketchy ideas and specific details for projects. I call it y DaVinci Journal, after the artist who left behind many pages of ideas and sketches. Each year I buy a new journal, even though I didn’t fill up the previous year’s book. For me, this assigns a dignity and importance to the journal. At this point, I’ve more than twenty writing-related journals in a wicker chest. At times I refer to them for ideas, clarification, inspiration, and reminiscence. Overall, each journal reaffirms my writing life.

An image or object to inspire you. An author friend hung a painting on her wall that represents her call to write for and help people who need hope. She draws inspiration from the peaceful work of art when beginning a project, and occasionally refers to it in conversations. It assists in explaining her passion. I keep a wooden sculpture of Frances de Sales (1567-1632), the patron saint of writers, on my desk. My mother gave it to me. It’s special because in my childhood, Mom believed in my call to write. The rustic statue encourages me to continue, and that I’ve an advocate cheering me on from heaven.

What could you purchase to inspire you in 2018? Even without a gift card or cash, I heartily recommend owning at least one item that represents your call to write and inspires you to passionately continue.

Judith Couchman is an author, speaker, and professor who lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She’s traditionally published more than 42 books, Bible studies, and compilations. Her current work in progress focuses on writers: How to Keep Writing & Loving It. Learn more about her writing and ministry at www.judithcouchman.com.

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