January 2024: WELCOME
Writing prompts and reflections to support you all month long
(Painting, collage, and photo by Amy Lewis)
Welcome to 2024!
At a time of year when we’re deluged with reminders of all the fresh starts and new intentions we’re supposed to be initiating, we invite you to do the opposite. Instead of plastering a whole new goal on your vision board, what about committing to doing more of the same?
Specifically, we’re thinking of #AcWriMoments. Back in November 2023, you signed up to receive writing prompts throughout the month to help you enter into SACRED (strategic, artisanal, creative, reflective, embodied, delicious) moments of communion with yourself and your research each day. A regular practice of #AcWriMoments can help us find and maintain courage, clarity, and purpose in our scholarly work.
After November ended, we missed those daily prompts, and we know that many of you did too! So now we return with a fresh twist on the concept.
On the first day of each month throughout 2024, we’ll offer you a unique theme to focus on in your cultivation of #AcWriMoments, along with simple prompts for integrating that theme into your daily life and work. You can return to this Monthly Guidepost again and again, experimenting with different suggestions and practices as you pursue whatever goals and visions you have for yourself that month.
By returning to the same theme over and over—and framing your actions and choices through its lens—you can build a sense of cohesion and structure into a process that so often bewilders us with its messy recursiveness. When we live by a monthly theme, we discover that the intentions we set in our work don’t have to be novel to be effective. They can be as much about renewal as newness. Remember that Janus, the Roman god for whom this month is named, looks both backward and forward.
Theme for January 2024: WELCOME
To WELCOME is to receive with open arms. When you Welcome someone or something into your life, you transition into its presence with a willing heart, ready to see what happens and to make the most of it. We can’t control what life throws at us or how our efforts will turn out, but we can adopt a posture of curiosity and acceptance.
In scholarly work, a spirit of Welcome enables us to receive surprising new information and to update our mental models accordingly. It empowers us to craft scholarship that invites readers in and helps them access new ideas that they may at first resist.
The theme of Welcome fosters generosity, connection, and possibility. As you experiment with the theme this month, try out whichever of these questions, practices, and experiments appeal to you, or feel free to devise your own.
What are you leaving behind in 2023 so that you have plenty of room to Welcome 2024?
What are you looking forward to this year and this month? What are you hoping for? What feels easy to Welcome?
What feels difficult to Welcome, and what support is available to help you?
Whom do you want to Welcome into your work? Whether students, fellow scholars, or other audiences, how can you invite them in, guide them through, and deliver on your promise to them?
Who are your role models for scholarly Welcoming? Think of people whom you admire, whether in person or on the page, for their skill at inviting others into new ideas. What techniques or qualities might you emulate in your own work?
PRACTICES & EXPERIMENTS
Create a simple altar, wall map, vision board, or journal page to commemorate what you are already Welcoming into your life and work: not something new that you have yet to create or do, but something you can already feel germinating.
Revise a passage of your writing with your reader in mind. What journey do you want to lead them on? How will you invite them onto the journey, and how will you lead them through it? Look for ways to make your readers feel Welcome inside the writing you create for them.
Develop a simple Welcoming affirmation, for example: “This January, I welcome ____ into my life, and I will practice receiving it in whatever forms it comes to me.” Place the affirmation someplace where you’ll see it often, such as your bathroom mirror or phone screen.
As you live the theme of Welcome this month, what possibilities open up for you that you never could have planned? How does Welcome, as a lens, help you notice the good, (re)connect with your purpose, and move gracefully with the obstacles life sends your way?
Remember that you have the power to Welcome anything and everything, and that Welcoming what is already in your life can be the most transformative practice of all. When we turn a fresh gaze on old ideas, experiences, and struggles, we can harness all the potency of newness combined with the wisdom of having already been here.
Thank you for joining us for #AcWriMoments! We’d love to hear from you. Please drop us a comment to let us know what you’re learning, trying, and discovering this month.&
Want some extra inspiration? Kick off the New Year with 30 Days of Writing with Pleasure, Helen’s free January writing challenge. Sign up here if you’re new to Helen’s newsletter, Helen’s Word, or follow these instructions to opt in if you already subscribe.