Writing for the End of the World

By Milli Thornton

THE END OF THE WORLD may be coming as advertised. On the other hand, it could all be a hoax the way Y2K was. Who knows? All I know is that I’m not going to spend 2012 listening to scary predictions. I’m going to spend it on my creative dreams.

I decided to use all the Armaggedon/Earth changes stuff I’ve flipped past on TV lately as an exercise. I asked myself how I could turn it into something positive and the answer was easy: use it as impetus anyway, even if December 21 rolls by without incident.

What if this really was the last year of my life?

When I put it to myself like that, it reminded me of a several movies I’ve seen using that theme; Bucket List being the most famous. OK, so if I was planning my bucket list year, what would I put on the list?

My list started getting overcrowded even before I could write any of it down. So I backed up and decided to do a pre-list evaluation of what’s really important. Maybe you’ll agree on some of this:

Remember that I can’t do it all

Even if I had the rest of my life (given that I live to be an old lady) to practice my creativity, I could never use all the ideas I’ve got written down. So I need to pick and choose and do it based on my highest priorities.

Because I have so many things I’m already doing—screenwriting, travel writing, coaching writers, running online courses, keeping three blogs—as well as other major things I want to do this year (such as bringing back the Fear of Writing Clinic), this will be one of my challenges.

Remembering not to kill myself trying to do it all could be important if the world doesn’t end this year. [Insert wink or grimace as needed.]

Mistakes are still OK

It shouldn’t matter whether I’ve got one day to live, one year, or another 52. Being human is about learning from our experiences. We call some of them mistakes and those are usually the ones we kick ourselves for the longest. But if we can learn something from it, too, then we’re really getting somewhere. In 2012, I give myself permission to still need my learning curves.

Reach out when I need to

In my work helping writers for over a decade, I’ve learned that one of THE biggest ways writers sabotage themselves is by not reaching out for help when they need to.

I find this unbelievably frustrating in my online course and other FoW services where I constantly reiterate my offers of help. I’ve seen writers slip away into the shadows, presumably never to write again because their fear or procrastination was so strong, rather than ask for help.

This is deeply embedded (and not just among writers) and I could write a book about what I’ve observed. But I won’t have time to write that book in 2012! Instead, I want to be conscious of the times when I can reach out for help or emotional support. There are plenty of people in my life who already give me oceans of encouragement and appreciation and they would be the ones to call on. The ones who I already know would be glad to help.

Keep it simple

This is not always the straightforward advice it sounds like, especially when a project has its own complexities and requires many steps to reach completion. So what I’ll do in those cases (besides chunking things down to baby steps) is to remember to listen to my bells. I get little bells ringing inside my gut whenever someone asks me to do something I need to say No to.

I can get the bells happening even if the request is for something seemingly small and easy to accomplish. And even if the person asking me is someone I love and want to please. The bells always know when I need to say No and the bells never interfere with Yes moments.

All I have to do is listen.

Remember to appreciate what I’ve already achieved and experienced

Ambition can be deceptive. So can words like “progress” and “productivity.” I definitely want forward movement and I want to achieve my creative goals. But if it’s always done from a place of more, more, more (while forgetting to notice how much I’ve already filled my life with things I loved achieving), the victory will be hollow.

“Sometimes, divine revelation simply means adjusting your brain to hear what your heart already knows.”
― Dan Brown

Milli Thornton


Milli Thornton is the author of Fear of Writing: for writers & closet writers. She is owner of the Fear of Writing Online Course, where her mission is to put the fun back into writing. Milli blogs at Screenwriting in the Boonies and Milliver’s Travels and coaches writers individually at Writer’s Muse Coaching.

5 Responses to Writing for the End of the World
  1. Meg Sweeney
    January 10, 2012 | 4:59 AM

    WoW- You have really summed up the whole experience. I just feel so grateful to be your student, under your wings so to speak, and I feel at one with you.

  2. JM Merchant
    Twitter: jmmerchant86
    January 10, 2012 | 5:56 AM

    Thanks Milli, as always you’ve given me plenty of food for thought. I’m looking forward to where 2012 takes us both, and the rest of the gang 🙂

  3. Lois
    January 10, 2012 | 10:09 AM

    Thanks for this, Milli! That last paragraph touched me the strongest, as I’ve decided to make this year more about being thankful for what I’ve got!

    I’m currently in the process of making my list of goals for the year…some outer, and some inner. I will definitely keep this in mind as I work on it. 🙂


  4. Terri
    January 10, 2012 | 11:45 AM

    What a refreshing approach to a constructive way to live. Living like this bypasses obstacles that plague many.

  5. Patrick Ross
    Twitter: patrickrwrites
    January 12, 2012 | 11:27 AM

    This is a great way to approach a new year, and great advice. I like that you framed it in the context of life as a writer, but your advice–accept mistakes, ask for help–applies to everyone, don’t you think?

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