This post about the 2020 Year of the Rat was first published in January 2020 but the ideas and messages within are useful for writers in any New Year.
The Vietnamese lunar New Year is the most important celebration of the year and here in my local fishing community in Hoi An celebrations are still in full swing. I’ve raised many a glass of warm local beer this week with my Vietnamese neighbours to herald in the Year of the Rat.
I am not really into horoscopes, or warm beer for that matter, but since everybody else around me is, it feels natural to just go with the flow and embrace all that the year of the Rat stands for. Here is why I think the Year of the Rat is going to be a great year for writers.
5 reasons why the Year of the Rat is good for writers:
1. The Year of the Rat is the start of a brand new chapter
The Rat is the first sign of the Chinese zodiac. It symbolises the beginning of a new day and a new cycle. 12 fresh new years unfolding like a dozen blank pages or brand new chapters. The Year of the Rat is a good year for writers because it’s an opportunity to turn a page and write a new chapter…
2. Rats embody essential traits every writer needs
Rats are regarded as curious and creative, clever and quick thinking; rats are successful, but content with living a quiet and peaceful life. One of the first assets a writer needs is to be curious to ask deep questions and to observe and see what others fail to see.
In order to write you also need to live a quiet and peaceful life. When we live a distracted life, showing up for ourselves is so much harder. Living a peaceful life, in sync with the rhythm of my little fishing community, has taught me how to create better habits to get the work done.
That doesn’t mean you need to live in a cave or on a desert island to write. It means that you must be careful to protect the writing process.
3. Rats and writers need a community to survive and thrive
Rats tend to live in packs, though they do also go on solitary explorations. The job of a writer is by its very nature solitary, but to thrive it is important to connect with your tribe.
“Nothing sustains motivation better than belonging to the tribe. It transforms a personal quest into a shared one.” James Clear
One way to connect with a community of writers is to join a live writers group in your town. If that’s not available to you, please join me and a warm and supportive online group that has been going since January 2018. Click here to join the Write Your Journey Online Writing Community.
4. The Rat symbolises yang energy
In Chinese philosophy the Rat symbolises yang energy: the fast moving, active, energetic and expanding masculine energy that is symbolised by the white swirl in the Yin/Yang sing.
It’s an energy that’s very useful for a writer. You want to be moving fast through your first draft—too many of us get stuck on polishing the first chapter over and over. I am definitely guilty of that. I used to agonise over the first paragraph for months.
And you also want to be expanding—obviously not at the waistline, although that is easy to do when you spend a lot of time sitting at your desk. So make sure you balance writing with some other activity. Walking is a good antidote to writing. It’s when the best thoughts come.
You want to be expanding on the inside to give space to your voice and to recognise your unique creative potential. Becoming spacious and receptive to your best qualities as a writer, will help you expand your writing, both in terms of quality and output.
5. Yang energy implies brightness, growth and productivity
Every writer, without exception, is their own worst enemy. Every writer struggles with the inner critic. Trust me, you are not the only one who thinks that your writing is not good enough and that you’re just not creative.
We are all creative beings, we’ve just forgotten how to access our potential. The inner critic is the shadow side of your creative potential, it’s fuelled by yin energy, which tends to be negative and dark.
I raised so many glasses of warm La Rue this week to the Year of the Rat, because I like the idea of celebrating the lightness that yang energy represents after the darkness of a decade or more of yin energy.
According to one forecast I came across in my quick Google search, the Year of the Rat promises
“that your flexible and open mind will make your life much easier. Good luck and prosperity will follow you in your job. Keep a lookout for opportunities and make the most out of it.”
Sounds like my kind of year. I’m almost tempted to crack open another beer (I do have cold ones in the fridge) and offer another toast to the Year of the Rat, but I’ve got work to do!
The yin energy of the last decade drove me deep inside to do the hard work and befriend my shadow side. I am starting this decade and this new cycle, being fully back in the light. The slippery slope of the last decade has been replaced by solid ground under my feet and the darkness has been exchanged for the brightness of the yang energy of the Year of the Rat.
But to tell the truth, I’m still on the fence about horoscopes. So here’s what I definitely believe in: create good habits and kick the bad ones.
It’s what will help me to remain a passionate, energetic and expansive writer in 2020. I’ll share my best tips for creating good habits and breaking bad ones in my next blog post.
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What do you need this year to become the writer you want to be?