Word of the year: 2015


Here it is, in all its simplicity. My word of the year for 2015: WRITE.

(Because you don’t do enough of that already, said one of my WOTY friends last night. But you know what? I don’t, exactly.)

I’ve chosen WRITE, in its variations, both the active verb, to write, and the noun or subject, writing. I want to explore this calling of mine, if it is indeed my calling. Mainly, I want to do it—to write! I want what I do this year to be in service to my writing. I want, also, to examine what makes good writing so that I can teach it better.

If I get to the end of the year, and feel like I’ve wasted my time or not applied myself, or been in some way made very unhappy by the pursuit of writing for itself, for its own end, then I will re-examine my calling, such as it is. Perhaps there is a greater purpose to which I should be applying myself.

But for now, this year, I want to live in my imagination and write fiction, specifically. Work with intensity, patience, and discipline.

I’ve allowed myself a back-up word, a tagline or footnote, if you will, and that is: ATTENTION. ATTENTION feeds into WRITE. I want to pay attention to the way I’m spending my time. And if attention comes my way, I want to receive it with grace, humility, and thanks, as food that feeds my writing life.

I feel strongly that this year will be about paring down, cutting out what feels wasteful or unnecessary, not trying to squeeze so much in, and focusing instead on the richness in a long-held moment—like playing a series of whole notes rather than eighth or sixteenth notes. It might appear boring on the surface. Much of the pleasure may be taking place way down deep, rather than visible in the exciting places visited or activities raced through. The adventure is in the mind: that is what it means to write.

I think it’s like doing a puzzle.

Or practicing yoga. Or following the long arc of a story.

This year I’m going to spend more time holding the long notes. Talking. Jamming on instruments. Napping, even.

The adventure in the mind is supported by a framework of routine and discipline, which is healthy, spiritually nurturing, and makes a body strong. I love my routines. I feel so comforted by them, supported in them. I look forward to what they offer me, even when I don’t feel like setting my alarm early.

This morning, for example, I stretched in front of the fire in the dark living-room, with chants playing in the background. I was frozen solid from my walk with Nina; we’d decided to cut it short when we started losing feeling in important body parts. As I stretched myself toward warmth, in the dark, I was taken by the comfort of the dark. This is a dark time of year, but in the dark the mind goes quiet, listens inward, has time to rest and reflect.

xo, Carrie

PS Are you choosing a word of the year? If so, and you’re willing, please share it in the comments. I would love to hear what you’re working on this year.

Word of the year, 2014
Advice to an aspiring writer


  1. Alysia

    Like you, I’ve been choosing a word of the year for about ten years. Some (enjoy, now) worked out better than others (challenge — what was I thinking?). I do it with a friend, and our words are not only tools for focus and reflection, but also quick go-to decision makers. So, when faced with a choice about how to direct my time and energy, I try to let the spirit of the word guide my decision. This year, I’ve chosen “good,” and my questions around this word include: what makes a good life? how can I focus on the good in the world, in others, in myself? And also, how can I let go when something is good enough?

    • Tena Laing

      I haven’t formally done a word in a while, and am happy to have been reminded by your post. Thank you! My word will probably be Write as well, since I’m on a writing sabbatical this year, but I want to include the ideas of Move and Do as well. Perhaps they can be the backup dancers to Write.

  2. steph

    I have the same type of year in mind. Having driven myself to the end of 2014 with unrelenting harshness, I observed the fallout and with some thought decided that my word for 2015 is halcyon. It means many things for me, particularly calm and peaceful. This year is about going at my own pace. It’s not about doing more; it’s about going deeper.

    All the best for your year, Carrie!

  3. Julie

    This is à first for me. The word I have chosen is, as you, to represent à slower pace, a mind/body/spirit connection and an openess to others and the world. My world is honour. Honour myself as my children are leaving the nest, honour my children and spouse, their individuality as well as their choices, honour my family and friends. My backup words are patience, grace and being mindful which should lead to more joy, more acceptance and greater contributions to peace.

    Thank you for your blog. It is à welcomed pause to my sometimes very hectic days.

  4. cath/waterloo

    thank you for sharing your word, carrie! i was looking forward to seeing it!
    i do a word, too, and/or a mantra. my word this year is trust – for all areas of life!

  5. Ted Dettweiler

    Instead of just being a spectator on this blog (as I am most days) I, too, am going to choose a word of the year for 2015. Can’t say I’ve reflected on this for the probably necessary days, but the very first word of the song “Real Love” on Jireh Gospel Choir’s new album “Get Up” is pure. [Full disclosure, I am a singer in Jireh and am married to Carol Bernard, the director]. That’s my word for 2015 that I want to explore and that I want God to work into my life. Funny that ‘pure’ is set prominently as first word in a song that was perhaps gospel song writer extraordinaire) Stephen Lewis’ first foray into writing radio-friendly lyrics.

    On my next trip to the library I’ll start by exploring the etymology (I hope that’s the word) of ‘pure’. How was the word first used? What’s its history? But the all-important part of this exercise, my first time having a word of the year, is, “What will the concept of ‘pure’ produce in my life?”. Only good things, I’m sure.

    Thank you, Carrie, for opening up your comments on your stellar blog to others. And thank you, you others, for sharing your words – “good, write, halcyon and honour”. All worthy. Let’s go!

  6. Tanya Kyi

    We choose a family word of the year. Last year, it was “flexibility.” And we managed to shift from being entirely inflexible in our routines to being a teensy bit more open to change. I’m not sure that counts as success, but we did what we could and blamed the rest on the seven-year-old.

    This year, our word is “generosity.” We’ve resolved to be more giving of our money, our time, and our possessions in an attempt to remember just how much we have relative to most of the world.

    Good luck with “write”!

  7. Kerry

    My word is “growth” because I want that for myself and my life. I had a good start with it last year and so in 2015 I hope to keep that going and moving forward. Love your word and all the others in these comments. Good luck everyone.

  8. Chris Cameron

    Carrie, my word for 2015 is “Higher.” It was inspired by the photo I currently use in my own blog, which in turn was inspired by a photo of my father, aged 80, reaching his arms to the sky on the summit of a mountain in Scotland. I think I chose this because of its open qualities as a comparative adjective. Higher than what? Well, that’s part of it; it needs a qualifier, a mate. Part of the project is to define where higher is. It also goes with several verbs I was originally considering to go along with it: reach higher, aim higher, look higher. Then I decided to leave the verb part blank and to fill in the blanks as I go.

  9. Carrie Snyder

    These words are wonderful! Thank you, everyone, for sharing. I wish you all a reflective and dynamic year to come.


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