All posts by Emmeline Chang

Want to have a creatively successful 2024?

Is 2024 the year you want to finally finish your book? Or dramatically uplevel your career? Or dig deep and create in an entirely different way?

Here’s a bit of Creative Witchery? magic to help you reach that goal: find a theme for the year.

Your theme connects all your goals, resolutions, and actions by identifying one fundamental quality that will help you reach your goals. Possible themes include courage, gratitude, creativity, abundance, love, spirit, power, healing, persistence, clarity, laughter, ease, curiosity, respect, fun… and more.

Your theme reflects how you want to BE and FEEL as you move through your year. Once you have your theme, you approach each day and action from that theme. Achieving your goals follows naturally.

I first used a new year’s theme in 2012. I was recently married and had just found out I was pregnant. I knew there were big things coming that year: buying and renovating a house; moving; leading a team of copywriters in a launch; leaving my intense advertising job to start a coaching business; and of course, growing a baby, going through labor and birth, and becoming a mother. I knew it could be incredibly stressful, and I knew I didn’t want to push through it, straining myself and my health. I wanted it to flow easily. So “FLOW” became my theme for the year.

In everything I did, I tried to flow. And, even I was surprised at the results. I didn’t feel overwhelmed. I moved through all the transitions—and led a copy team in an advertising launch, finished a draft of a story collection, and launched a new website for my coaching business.

There was a lot to do, and there were hard times (including a complicated labor and tough postpartum period ), but through it all, I kept flowing through my life, connected with my heart and supported by the universe and the people around me. I hadn’t expected it to be so effective, but it was. My theme connected me back to the flow I wanted, and everything else flowed from that.

How to create your theme for the year

1. What’s missing?

Look at the different areas of your life (career/life purpose, money, health, romantic relationship, friends and family, personal growth/spirituality, play and fun, physical environment). What is unsatisfying or missing?

2. What do you want?

Now write down what you want in your life this year. What are your goals? Big or small—put it all down.

3. How do you want to feel and be?

Ask yourself: What quality do you need to have to reach those goals? How would you like to feel as you move towards those goals? List all the words that describe how you want to feel and be in the coming year.

4. Choose a theme for the year

Now, look over your list (from #3). Choose one word that calls to you and sums up how you want to be this year. Say your word aloud. See how it feels. Close your eyes and imagine yourself moving through the year with that quality. How does it feel? If it feels right, that’s your theme!

(Send me a message telling your theme for the year. I’d love to know! :-))

5. Live your theme!

Put your theme up where you can see it. Feel it in your body. If you want, you can dance it or create a vision board with images evoking your theme. Most importantly, focus on your theme as you move through each day—embody this quality and live your life from this theme.

Good luck, and may 2024 bring you all the blessings of your theme!!

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

P.S. If you aren’t doing enough of your art and want to start doing it REGULARLY and EASILY, ask me about Artist in Action.

Artist in Action is a Creative Witchery? program designed to help talented, ambitious writers and artists do their work easily and consistently–even when they have full family lives, “commercial” work or day jobs, or a long history of creative block. 

Remember this

Whatever difficulties you might encounter, and whatever failures you might have, remember these famous words from Theodore Roosevelt.

(Do a mental edit on the patriarchal language, as this was written in 1910. :-))

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Doing your writing or art

You might have trouble doing your writing or art right now. You might be stressed and pressed for time. You might be exhausted from the strain of the last year and a half.

So what makes it possible to do your writing or art during this time?

Here’s the first thing you MUST have in place to do your writing or art: a good state of being. 

By “state of being,” I mean your mental, energetic, emotional, physical, and spiritual state.

Now, I really want to emphasize that I’m not saying a good state of being is “nice to have.” It is an absolute essential. It is the nonnegotiable foundation of doing your creative work.

This is always true, but it’s especially true during times of uncertainty, upheaval, or difficulty.

If you’re mired in fear or depression or despair, burned out, stressed and irritable, overwhelmed with things to do, you won’t have the mindset to dive into your art–and you definitely won’t be doing your best creative work.

This doesn’t mean that you’re never upset, angry, sad, or negative. It means you allow yourself to feel those feelings fully when they come up, but you’re able to move through them to the other side. In other words, the negative state of being is not your ongoing, default state.

First, I’m going to talk about the importance of your physical state.

By physical, I mean the material world–your body, health, environment, time, money, etc.

When you aren’t in a good state in the physical realm, 

  • You might not have the energy to do your creative work.
  • Or you feel like you don’t have the time or money.
  • You might depend on outside substances (alcohol, drugs, sugar, coffee, food in general) to manage fear or anxiety. 
  • You might use addictive behaviors (bingewatching TV shows, binge reading, shopping) to manage the creative anxiety.
  • You might have difficulty managing the earthly side of your art (making money from it, taking advantage of career opportunities, finding the time, space, and money to do it)
  • You might push yourself in unhealthy ways to do your art

On the other hand, when you’re strong in the physical realm, 

  • You have the health, energy, and stamina to do your art (and your art lifts your physical well-being too)
  • You can connect to your body and use its wisdom in doing your art
  • You feel grounded and solid in your work
  • You can advocate for your art in earthly ways (ask for generous payment and receive it) and you are able to receive earthly recognition, publicity and rewards
  • You feel abundant, nourished, and strong as an artist

I could write volumes on taking care of your physical state, but here are a few tips to begin with. 

Prioritize your well-being. Do not be a martyr. Life–and your creative career–are a marathon, not a sprint. 

What is going to let you feel good day to day in your life?

Here are some basics I find are important for me:

  • Enough sleep (a must)
  • Eating well (vegetables, fruits, good proteins and fats, no sugar or caffeine or alcohol) 
  • Movement in the morning, before my day is under way (kundalini yoga–opens up body and breath)
  • Going outside
  • Boundaries around news consumption (limit the amount and time of day)

These are the fundamentals, even in “non crazy” times. I make an absolute priority of these things–because every time I don’t, I feel the effects immediately: my state of being gets worse and my creative work suffers.

Make a short list of the basic things YOU need to feel good in your life on a day to day basis, and start taking action to get those in place. Don’t pressure yourself to do it all at once. Take baby steps. Every step, however small it feels, is movement toward your big dreams.

You can do it.

Inspiration from Inaugural Poet Amanda Gorman

At the inauguration, Amanda Gorman reminded me how an artist can gather together the threads of suffering and despair and a deep desire for change, weave together the feelings of the zeitgeist, and create an incantation of hope. 

Amanda Gorman at the 2021 Biden Inauguration

In days of old, priests and priestesses inspired and led with their visions. Today, artists hold that role. 

John Lennon’s “Imagine” envisioned a world where people lived as one.

The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago laid out a ceremonial banquet and created a symbolic history of women throughout civilization.

Black Panther created an alternate world where Black Africans have a power far beyond any majority-white nation.

This is a time when our world–facing the crises of the coronavirus, climate change, inequality, political extremism, and so much more–needs us to imagine and create a better future.

If you are an artist, a creator, it’s time to bring your voice FULLY into the world. To let go of the petty resistances and fears that keep your horizon safe and small. Time to let your spark light a torch that inspires the world. 

P.S. If you aren’t doing enough of your art and want to start doing it EASILY (and NOW, not in a year or two or ten!), ask me about the Artist in Action program.

Artist in Action helps talented, ambitious writers and artists do their work easily and consistently–even when they have full family lives, “commercial” work or day jobs, or a long history of creative block. 

Interested? Email me.

It was hard to write today

After what happened at the Capitol yesterday, it was hard to write this morning. I woke up at 3:15 am, peeked at my phone, and couldn’t resist checking the news–NOT something I recommend for sleep OR writing!

This morning I had to pull myself back from the news and social media so many times… but ultimately I got my writing done. What saved me were the things (mindsets, practices, creative foundation…) I’ve developed over the years.  

These things have kept me writing (and sane!!) through the political upheaval, the rising pandemic numbers, the repeated school shutdowns and days filled with remote schooling. 

But, my ability to write during these times didn’t come easy. It took me years to develop these practices. Reflecting on that makes it possible to write during intense and difficult times, I think of three things:

1. Your state of being–Your physical, mental, emotional, energetic and spiritual state of being

If this is messed up, you could have problems with energy, focus, inspiration, motivation, the courage to keep going, and so much more.

2. The strong foundation of a writing (artistic/creative) habit

You brush your teeth in the morning and evening, right? Even during the pandemic, even during big political events?

If doing your art is “just what you do,” it’s so much easier to do your work, even when the world is going crazy. 

3. Structures to help you keep going until you finish

Community, accountability, support, and the feeling that what you create matters: many emerging or aspiring artists don’t have these–but they’re crucial when you hit the tough periods in your career, or when big, dramatic outside events rock the world.

Because of all that’s been happening this past year, I’ve been very careful about my commitments and haven’t run a lot of new programs. 

But, I’m thinking of opening my Artist in Action program, where we put these three pieces in place, so you can do your art regularly and easily.

Let me know if you’re interested–and I’ll be in touch when I open it up! (Email me at and put “Artist in Action” in the subject line.)