Um, Hello...It's me...Your future 'me'....

Have you ever wished you could remember what you were thinking two years ago? Not just in regards to your personal life, but in your professional one? What exactly did the vision for your current work-in-progress look like the moment it seized you? Where did you think the book was headed? What excited you most about the prospect of chasing it?

If you are anything like me, the actual slog of a first draft eventually kills the sharp triumph of that first glimpse. At first I can hold on to the memory of the fully-formed, glorious book-to-be, but the time it takes to translate the vision into actual words buries my initial drive.

So what's a writer to do?

Visit FutureMe.org.

The purpose of the site is simple. Write a letter to yourself in the text box, schedule it to be sent on such-and-such future date, and FutureMe.org will deliver it to your email inbox as specified.



It sounds a little bit like the premise of a YA novel, doesn't it? GIMME A CALL, by Sarah Mlynowski and THE FUTURE OF US, by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler use similar hypotheses, the first involving a cell phone and the second, an AOL disc and Facebook pages. In both books, the main characters are contacted by their future selves in order to change (or attempt to change) what has happened.... or what will happen or....both.

You and I can't perform any switch-a-roo, change-a-roos in regards to the future, but I do think FutureMe.org may offers writers its own bit of creative magic. 

For instance, you could use it to:

1. Be your own muse. As soon as you get an idea for a new book or character or situation, write yourself a letter and schedule it to arrive in six months or twelve month. It will be fun to see if the idea sticks, or if by the time you read the email, you find it laughably bad:

Dear FutureMe,

I dreamed this early morning of a girl who lived in the middle of the ocean! I don't know how she got there, or what she is doing, or even if she lives on a boat or a piece of land, only that she doesn't want to be found. The colors were spectacular! and most of the time she didn't have to wear a stitch of clothing....

*Hmmm....that's, um....interesting....
Let's just see what's next....*

2. Be your own writing coach. Write down the reasons why you write. Encourage yourself to remember your daily goals. Tell yourself the things that have been most helpful to you in the journey so far. Remind yourself to hold on to the "most important things." Record advice other writers have shared. You never know, getting an email like that every now and then might be just the lift you need in the midst of real discouragement. (And the act of writing each one will nuture in the present too!)

Dear FutureMe,

Keep your chin up, drop your shoulders, and take in as much air as you can in one long, breath. What you are doing today matters. If you are feeling lost, go back and read your Writing Guidelines. Don't forget that those little people at your knees don't care what you put on the page today. They only want your smile and your love. So do as much work as you can in the time you've allotted yourself, (because not doing it makes you a cranky mama) and then leave it for the ones who can't wait to have you to themselves. The work will be there for the next session. What filters down through the rocks and sediment as you go about your life is the real source of your creative well. Draw from it, yes, but don't forget to do the things that, over time, will fill it back up again.

3.  Be your own administrative assistant.

Some ideas:

1. Send yourself a quick note about that new MG novel your critique group  was talking about. You know you want to read it, but your stack is already up to the top of your bedside table...maybe in six months...?

2. When you meet a fellow writer at a conference or workshop and you seem to hit it off (but there isn't enough time to really get to know each other), write yourself an email containing the writer's contact information and your initial impressions before you turn off your overloaded brain for the night. Then schedule it to arrive about three weeks after you've returned home and had some time to decompress. You'll have something more to go on when you do contact your potential new buddy, and she will be flattered that you remember that she is from Arizona and owns five poodles and writes about trapeze artists. ***And while you're at it, tack on a reminder to look at all those frenzied notes you took during the conference break-out sessions!

3. Do the same thing (#2) when meeting/researching an agent or editor you know you want to query some time in the future. Flesh out what your gut is telling you so that time can't steal your first impressions and turn them into self-doubt.

4. Remind yourself to get business cards/bookmarks/postcards made before you run out again.

5. Send yourself a copy of your 2012 professional goals and schedule it to arrive in Jan. 2013. See which ones you were able to meet, and which one need to be at the top of the 2013 list.

So far I've used FutureMe to send myself one pep-talk and two adminstrative notes. There are probably more technologically savvy ways of balancing a professional to-do-list and nuturing a creative drive, but I still like email best. It is a simple and efficent gateway for maintaining my writing sanity in the midst of a very busy personal life. And I like surprises. Even though I must pick a certain date for FutureMe.org to release an email, I can't know at at the time of writing it what sort of mental place my future self will be. It just seems like a whole lot more fun than Google or Outlook Calendar.

So what sort of letter would you like to receive from your future self?
And how do you use technology to keep track of your writing life?

Do tell!

6 comments:

  1. My kids made time capsules in kindergarten, and were amazed at how little the content resonated when they opened it ten years later. I'm afraid of the same thing, and I'm much older than kindergarten...

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  2. This looks like an interesting tool. Thanks for passing it along. I can see using it to keep tasks aren't vital on the radar.

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    1. Welcome Elyse! Glad you found the post useful. Sometime in the future (wink) let us know if you put FutureMe to use, and whether or not you like it!

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  3. Hi,

    At my age, ten years sounds like a long time even though the last ten whipped past while I was brushing my teeth . . . or doing something. Time is truly strange. But writing to my future self could be fun . . . or possibly depressing. I'll have to think about this. In the meantime, I need to work on my time-slip novel.

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    1. Hi Mirka and Sheila,

      I totally agree...ten years is forever from now! Not only do our circumstances change over and over, but we undergo a thousand metamorphoses ourselves. Who knows if FutureMe will even exist in ten years to release emails scheduled that far in advance? Or if you will still be using the same email account?

      But, I do think the site is useful and (fun) in the short-term future, like in 6-12 month time frame. Two years is about the maximum I plan to schedule anything ahead, and I think that will be pretty rare.

      The biggest benefit to me is the act of writing to myself now, for in doing so, I find out what I'm really thinking and hoping. And in regards to the creative life, the act of looking back is always reflective--cheering, when I see how far I've come, and motivating, when I see how far I've yet to go.

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  4. Yes, it does sound as if it could be fun, and knowing that a reminder e-mail is coming just might help keep me on task.

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