Creative Mindset: Do You Have December FOMO?

2019 Storyteller Academy Dinner in Los Angeles

Depending on your creative mindset, December FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) can be your friend or your enemy. So, let's talk about what to release, and what to hold tight, as we go into the last month of 2020. 

(If you go through this brief creative mindset exercise with me and share in the comments at the end, I'll give away one query critique to one random commenter, and one picture book critique to to another. Don't feel like you have to complete everything I suggest in the post to enter. Anyone who shares wins at the end can enter. )

1. Release the Negative

2020 has held disappointments and sorrow for most of us. Did you have goals or relationships that didn't work out the way you'd planned? Are you mourning loved ones or dreams you've had to put on hold?

Take some time here to grieve. What didn't go the way you wanted it to this year? If you're a list person, you might make a list. If you're a religious person, you might pray. Hitting or screaming into a pillow can help you release anger. You can journal about your grief and disappointment. It might take you five minutes, or it might take you hours, but it will help lift a weight. 

Personal Story:

If you have depression or anxiety, though, you may need more help releasing negativity than an exercise or two can provide. It's okay to get help with that. It's hard to have a creative mindset at all when you need help with your mental health.

2020 hasn't been a bad year for me. Yes, it's been hard in a lot of ways, but in a lot of other ways, I feel like my family has been fortunate.

On the other hand, 2018 was the worst year of my life, worse even than 2000 when my mom died unexpectedly. I spent most of 2018 wrestling with suicidal depression on my own. I felt like I couldn't talk to anyone about it. Out of self-preservation, I quit a leadership position with my church and a long-time job. I'd stayed in both of them because I worked with kids, and I loved that part. But there were some toxic adult components, and getting out was necessary.

That summer, I reached out to a friend who'd gone through suicidal depression, and we became texting buddies who went on monthly outings with each other. She reassured me that I was just going through my “dark night of the soul” and that my life would be better on the other side. I started out by reading books she recommended, repeating affirmations, and listening to TED Talks. One of the TED Talks that made an impact was Abria Joseph's “Removing Negative Self-Talk.”

I remember that I was in my bedroom, painting over the horrible wallpaper I'd been ignoring for 15 years with a lovely robin egg blue, when I stopped to write the three questions he asked. I still have them on my mirror.

  1. Is it true?
  2. Is it necessary?
  3. Does it improve upon the silence?

I'm sharing it now, just in case any of you need it. And my friend was right about my dark night of the soul. It gave me the courage to make necessary changes in my life. If you're going through something like that, not only can you come through it, you can be stronger and happier on the other side. There's no shame in getting professional help. The world is more beautiful with you in it. And if you let yourself be happy, that happiness will spread to the people around you. Choose happiness. The pain you experience in metamorphosis will be worth it.

2. Share Your Personal Wins for 2020

Hopefully you've taken a moment to grieve your losses for the year (and if you needed to, put some negative self-talk in check). Let's move on now to celebrating our wins for the year. What went well for you? What did you work hard for? Were there any surprises that felt like gifts?

You don't have to limit these to your creative endeavors. I had some breakthroughs this year with my health because I was brave enough to go looking for answers. I'm proud of myself for going outside my comfort zone to make a class on querying agents, and to ask people I admire in the industry to make classes that students requested. I'm grateful for the good relationships I have, old and new. Some of those were unexpected and feel like gifts. And I'm pretty happy with the evolution that two of my picture books have taken over the course of 2020. 

Please share some of your wins with us in the comment section. Expressing gratitude for where you're at and where you're going will help you have a healthy creative mindset.

3. Harness Your December FOMO

FOMO is the anxiety that comes from feeling like you're missing out. It can come from seeing others succeed, or you might just feel happy for them. It doesn't have to be either/or. I think there's a special kind of FOMO at the end of the year that comes from people realizing they aren't where they wanted to be. Staying in the FOMO mindset isn't great for your creative mindset.

So, first, I want you to acknowledge that 2020 has pretty much been the weirdest year ever. You're living through a worldwide pandemic, and you still managed to score some wins. (If you haven't written those down, write them down.) Go, you! 

Second, I want you to write down the goals you most wish you'd accomplished this year. This might be painful, but only a little bit. Out of those goals, realistically, are there any you can still accomplish? We still have a month. Realistically now: be kind to yourself. No kicking of self (especially mentally) is allowed. This is where we harness your December FOMO for good, not evil. 

Are there a few things you can finish before the end of the year? Great! 

You can let the rest go for now. 2021 will be a better year.

Critique Giveaway

I'm giving away one query critique (any kind of book query) to a random commenter, and I'm also giving away a picture book critique to another commenter. To enter, please share a personal win from 2020, and let me know in the comments which critique you'd like. For extra entries, share the post on social media and let me know in a reply to your original comment. This giveaway will end on December 10 at midnight (PST).

Blog Contributors

Instructor Photo: Myrna Foster

Myrna Foster writes and edits content for Storyteller Academy and the WriteRiders Newsletter for SCBWI Nevada. She has spent a lot of time teaching and coaching children, including five years as a preschool teacher. She's also worked as a journalist, and Highlights High Five has published six of her poems. 

Arree Chung is an author/illustrator and the founder of Storyteller Academy. Arree’s Ninja! series has received starred reviews from Kirkus and School Library Journal. Kirkus also gave a starred review to Mixed, which recently won the FCGB award. 

Today Arree lives a creative life, making stories for children. Arree spends most of his time making picture books, writing middle grade novels, and sharing his love for art, design, and storytelling with kids and dreamers everywhere.

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