Word of 2015: Ready? (and a Giveaway)

We are still weeks from the New Year. You are probably overwhelmed with cards and holiday planning. It’s about a week from the beginning of Hanukkah and two and a half weeks to Christmas. So why start thinking of the Word of the Year?

Words make the portrait. "Zappa" by konstantinek: http://bit.ly/1vDDdLq

Words make the portrait. “Zappa” by konstantinek.

Because you can’t come up with it overnight. It takes a bit of planning, thinking, and trying on a few to see how they fit before you choose the right one.

Here are some ways to start choosing words:

1. Write down words you like. You can like the sound or the meaning, or just feel attracted to the word. Write them down without numbering them, scattered across the page, not in any order: Torque, branch, flood, heart, live, thrive, shine. Any words that appeal to you. Do that for at least a day.

2. Around each word, write some words you associate with the word you wrote. Let’s use “torque” as an example. You might write “revolution,” “turn,” “twist.”

Decide if any of those words are interesting for you. Let’s say you like the idea of “turn.” So write a few phrases with the word you like. “Turn around,” or “turn your head,” or even “do a good turn,” and “a turn for the better.” Keep working on word groups and phrases for a day or so.

3. Try out a few words and see if they fit. Do any phrases strike you as important, even if you don’t know why? Do they feel like words you’d love to use a lot? Words that call to you require a fitting session. Write the word on a piece of paper and carry it around for a day. Every time you touch the paper, think if the word fits you.

4. Narrow your words down. Choose a few–no more than three.  Work from there. Talk to your friends about what they think when they hear the word. You might get new ideas. Type it into Google and see what happens.

5. Sleep on it. Put the piece of paper with the word written on it under your pillow. Any interesting dreams? Any ideas or association within an hour of waking up?

The final word has to be rich and deep–something you can chew on for weeks51wed0j1hTL and months.

The Giveaway. Leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments, along with the word, when you choose it. You have some time–but not enough to put it off.  On December 15th, I’ll choose one of the comments to win Wild Mind–Living The Writer’s Life a book by writer and writing teacher Natalie Goldberg.

The book is a great addition to your head and heart–how to balance daily responsibility with a commitment to write, coming to terms with success and failure, and how to find time to write.

—Quinn McDonald is choosing her word for next year.

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45 thoughts on “Word of 2015: Ready? (and a Giveaway)

  1. Pingback: Weekly Retreats - The Best New Year's Resources – Pierced Wonderings

  2. I’m rather late, sliding in before the end of year deadline. I struggled with my word choice for 2015, wanting a verb that would get me into action, but it didn’t come. So I am accepting the word that did come, “enough.” Strong enough. Having enough. Doing enough. Being enough. It will be enough.

  3. Usually by this time of year, a new word starts to flit about on the periphery of my thoughts. Rereading my previous word journals, some have served me well and others have left me a bit down-trodden. My disappointments weren’t with the words themselves but with my lack of actions in regards to them.
    This was the first year I chose to keep my Word, front and center and I had a very good year with it.
    I realized, in the past, where I fell short is when I lost my focus. When things fall by the wayside, that is when I lose touch of what I wanted to accomplish, so this year’s word is just that…Focus.
    I knew by November, this would be my word. It is where and how I need to concentrate my thoughts and actions if I hope to get anything done. I am hoping, like this year’s word(s), [Gratitude/Giving], it will remain a solid part of my life, ingrained like a habit I am not willing to give up.

  4. Hmm, I’ve been thinking on this all week, have written down quite a few and spoken aloud one or two…..but am still undecided. I have two I’m liking – Bloom and Content though somehow they seem at opposite ends in their meaning. And yet, maybe not? Perhaps in being content I can bloom? Or maybe by blooming (and feeding my soul) I can also be content (with other aspects of my life)?
    This whole word for the year thing fascinates me…..I’ve picked one for two years now and your post prompted me to look back on them and I must say it’s lovely to remember the year just by one little word. The year may not have been awesome or amazing or even overly memorable but that word somehow sums up how I wanted it to be, how I remember my striving and desire to have been. Interesting.

    • In my head (and we know about what it looks like!) Bloom and Content are closely related. The content of your life blooms when you put it into action. Blooming also indicates there will be a seed and a new plant, which is closely related to content. So, yes!

  5. This is my first time choosing a word. This new year calls for a new focus in my life and I’m not wanting to push on that. So I’ve chosen ‘simmer’ as in the process of many ingredients left to mingle and refine over slow time into something new and unique. Hopefully being conscious of the word will help me to allow that time and let the ingredients stew.

  6. Since you began this, I chose and have carried “Salt & Light”, every year, and always will…last year I was looking forward to becoming an empty-nester and chose “One”. I ended up as not only an empty-nester, but moved to a new apartment and am living alone for the first time in my life.
    My bf of 9 years ended our relationship and so my life really embodied the word I had chosen. Very single, very alone. Out of it has come pain and strength…new awareness…For this coming New Year I had considered Hope, which is always good to have, but implies a longing for what you don’t have. I need to be grateful for what I DO have…I’m thinking of Content. I want to be content with what I have. It also interests me that the word has a different pronunciation and meaning, as in CONtent—stuff. Things. People. Ideas. Adventures. Fullness…So much more than lonely “One”! So I’m very much leaning toward being content with the contents of my life. Also sounds like I’m willing to welcome in more—that sounds like I’m happy with my cake and anything else is icing!

  7. my word for 2015 is SINGLE. some of my thoughts surrounding my word: how a single word, thought, act, moment, image, decision, person, indecision, regret, status (more so meaning relationship vs fb)….. can change a day, a mind, a heart, a life… momentum, direction, outlook….

  8. I think my word for 2015 needs to bee: rebirth. Because I recently started changing up many things in my life. A new working environment, new challenges. (I hope i write this well, I am dutch). Thanks for the chance on winning that book.

  9. My word for 2015 is “Moment”. I turned 35 twice this year and need to let go of regrets.I need to not worry so much about the future, after all, it can change in a moment! So finally, I’m working on learning to live in the moment!

  10. My 2014 word was “Wonder” — and I think it worked well, reminding me to both stretch my imagination and be open to a sense of awe. I’ve been thinking about a 2015 word for a week or so now, and made my choice yesterday. It’s going to be “Clarity.”

  11. I think I am going to choose my maternal grandmother’s favorite word for 2015 – GALLIVANT. Yep, it’s time to do more traveling – to new ideas, to new skills, to new people, to new places (and old). It has always been a happy word to my ears. And I loved my grandmother so very much. I’m sure she’s smiling down at me right now!

  12. Last year I chose Persevere when I had a challenging dog to deal with; when she went back to the rescue and the challenges settled down, I changed to Peripato (puttering around). I’m done with the puttering, but I did like your shift to Distill but I need more to pare the stash, so I think my word for 2014 is going to be Divest! Use up the stash, use up the stuff, pass along the heirlooms that don’t make my heart leap when I see them, give away the clothes and things that I don’t need.

  13. Thanks for the reminder and good ideas on how to think about the word of the year, I agree, it’s time, though I haven’t thought of mine yet I’m gonna make a list with associations and take a good look at it. My word this year: willpower.

  14. I have thought and thought and thought about this. My words for the last two years have been “thrive” (2013) and “bloom” (2014). And I felt there should be some progression on this journey of theme words.

    This year I feel drawn toward the word “purpose” – in both its noun and verb form. But I wasn’t sure, thought maybe it should be a more active verb. One morning I was giving it a lot of thought while doing my morning pages, and had almost made up my mind. Then I looked at the Angel Cards I had drawn that morning – I do them most days as a way of focusing on the day ahead. Guess what word came up on the Angel Cards.

    Purpose. It seems like that’s my word for 2015.

    I would love this book, so thanks for the chance, Quinn!

  15. I’ve simplified and expanded, accumulated and explored and could have written Nina’s comment and now I’m thinking of packing everything away and acting in one arena . . . but which? So many overlaps, so many interests that I don’t feel like I’m making any headway at all when it comes to excellence (not in comparison to others, just me, improving. I over-think the situation to the point where I have become a voyeur to my own angst. I know that action, often fueled by frustration, is my way out of confusion and confusion is reigning so perhaps a little light is needed . . . or a good scream into the wind or at least another coffee.

  16. While your ideas for the process of choosing a word are very good, I don’t need to think about it or sleep on it or anything else. I need to use the same word as 2014. SPACE. Made very little progress on it and I must!

  17. Getting ready to choose the word of the year in each December has been a process for me now for a number of years…Journal pages hold some of the processes used, and it is great to have before me this list now of some deciding processes. Keeping the word before me – on the front of my writing prompt book, a “fancy” little word on the computer screen…and a nice large word on the wall of my studio…how might I be able to incorporate that word in my every day has become a practice, much a a walking meditation is a practice.
    The Natalie Goldberg book is definitely on my want list. Studies with Jim Heynen in writing workshops at Fort Worden in the 70’s and 80’s, followed by many writing workshops and poetry work-shopping groups led me to Taos to write with Natalie 8 years ago. That experience was a turning point in how I approached my writing every day.
    Now, each day, I am blessed with reading and learning from you, Quinn. Truly a daily gift of writing thoughts, ideas, practice reminders and all-around the best guidance. Much appreciation for the continued provision of good council you provide to the world of creative folks in many arenas. Kristin

  18. I already know my word for the year. We have some changes coming up, nothing finalised, but they will happen. My word is Wisdom. I’m too old to make the wrong decision, lol.

  19. I’ve been thinking about what my word for 2015 will be for a couple weeks now. I’ve thought of a few choices, but haven’t quite narrowed it down yet. I’m leaning towards the word ‘plenty’ but still thinking about a few other options too.

  20. My Word of the Year has to pass my SEAL of approval in which I ask…Is it…

    1. Sexy? – i.e. is it compelling, provocative or evocative? Does it pique my interest and curiosity?, is it a fun play on words or an ad campaign-worthy tag line or… even sexier to me – does it have two or three meanings even, such that I want to chase it and be with it for 365 days? Or is it just ho-hum, so what? – (litmus test to unsexy Words is that they feel like a should or is a word that is forgettable by Jan 21st). Also, if I can’t conceive of entire annual “campaign” in the minutes after I’ve come up with my word, then I know it isn’t sexy enough.
    2. Energizing? – i.e. as defined by – does it give me goose bumps?, make my heart sing?, bring me joy?, make me smile or laugh?, or do a Meg Ryan YES!? – do I have a physical or visceral reaction to saying, thinking or hearing it?
    3. Ambitious? Is there enough of a scare or dare factor in it (but not too much) that I feel like I’m be challenged or reaching or striving to achieve it and/or live up to it? I verb versus noun all my Words so that I remember to stay in the “ing” form of Living it out each year.
    4. Lasting? Obviously it needs to last and energize me all year long and/or have a legacy piece such that it keeps on ticking after the year is up. I find my Word of the year lives long and lively years after I have declared it so I consider how it builds upon the year before and make room for it to live on when I first conceive of it.

    This year, my word was Dubstep – which was about embracing 12 lovely W words as my ways of being, doing and having. I look forward to seeing what 2015 will bring…it will be my 8th year of theming and branding my year with a “tagline.”

  21. Thank you for writing out this process. I have been thinking on a new word since mid-year when you blogged about changing yours! And I haven’t arrived at a word I am comfortable with. So tonite, after my work day is done and my first Christmas party of the season is behind me I will begin to work with your process. Hopefully this will help me to distill a word that will work for 2015.

    I am tired of 2014’s word, Dare. Exhausted is closer to the truth really. I am hoping this 2015 word will be a lot calmer, and also way less stressful.

  22. Quinn, your blog is the first email I look for every day. Food for thought. You are my friend, though we’ve not met and might never do so. It seems fitting, here, toward the end of the year, to thank you for sharing your insights with all of us. Personally, my brain and my heart feel stretched and challenged by your writing. And so, a heartfelt thank you!

    As for my word, well, I’ve decided to re-use my 2014 word as I was only partially successful with it and feel it important enough to give it another go: less. Because less is more.

    Best wishes to all for a happy holiday season, whatever holiday you celebrate — and health and joy in the coming new year!

  23. Got my word already, it wonderfully came to me when reading one of your previous posts. The word is FOCUS. I have always been a real ‘Jill of all trades’, and while this has served me well in many areas of my life and I don’t plan on making any big changes, I do feel that my creative side needs some focus. Last year I did the opposite, tried out new workshops, hoarded more than ever, dabbled and experimented. Now I need to draw in, clear out, become more of an expert in my field. I know my field is bookbinding/making, and it has spilled out into journalling, sketching, textiles and other stuff. Now I need to decide where my boundaries are and …focus. Another word may come to me as a back up to keep it company, but that will be the main one.
    Love your blog, it’s SO inspiring.

    • Thanks for your kind words, Nina. You could be my word twin! I started last year with Scatter–taking classes, doing more art, spreading out what I blogged about. And then in July, I was exhausted from all that scattering. I changed my word mid-year to Distill, and pared down. I chose an area to work in and this year will focus on that. It’s really wonderful to try both.

  24. Usually it takes me a while to come up with my word for the year. I chew on it for a bit. This time it’s different. My 2015 word came to me while I was receiving a massage: LEAP. It just felt right and a month after it came to me, it still resonates.

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