Writing Through The Holiday Season

Are you asking yourself the same question as I am?  How in world is any sane person supposed to fit in writing with the busy holiday season and a day job?

It is possible. You can do this!

I so badly want to complete my wip this year. If I didn’t think I was crazy when characters started talking to me, trying to complete a book during the holiday season should make me certifiable crazy.

Here are some strategies I plan to employ as I start operation, Finish That Book!

  1. Plan: I made a plan using some of the strategies recommended by fellow writers.
    1. Plan. Take time to realistically plan your writing time. Make plenty of room for kids parties, evening parties and all that shopping you still have to get done. Be realistic.
    2. Enlist The Aid And Support Of Family. My family knows my goals and I hope they can respect that writing time. To help my children remember, on my study door there is now a note that says. “Disturb at your own risk.”
    3. Meals. The crockpot is now my best friend. I pulled our favorite crockpot meals, grocery shopped with my daughters and enlisted their help. Dinner should be ready every night. Now whether it’s edible, depends on which one of my children cooks.
    4. Work. I plan to maximize my time at work. Ever notice just how much work you can get done before you go on vacation? That’s the mindset I’ve employed.

And of course, life still interrupts. Take this week for example. I got sick. Sleep—on the couch to keep the germs to myself—sick. Let’s not forget the dog. Yes, the dog had puppies (seven if you were curious) and we had a major glitch in our computer software at work.

What to do?

Pray. Prayer shifted my focus. Best laid plans tend to go by the wayside. Trust me, I like to plan. I am the certifiably crazy person that makes list upon list. To remind myself to keep the right perspective I’ve stuck a post-it note on my night table. In big red ink. I wrote “PRAY”. Before my feet touch the ground, I’ve begun asking God, “What can I do for you today, Lord?” In all my busyness, if I forget God, what have I really accomplished?

Grab. Every. Moment. I grab every moment I can, when I can. Today, I had to drop off and wait for my daughter to finish her piano lesson. Instead of getting all frazzled, I pulled out my phone and worked on a scene (Thank you Lisa Jordan for that tip).

Oh and here is my last tip. Company Over? Entertaining Guests? Involve them. Seriously. I have family staying at my home, a total of nine people until after the new year. That in itself is a distraction. I asked them what they think about something I’m working on, especially if I’m stumped. Trust me, the last time I did this, I asked about Texas slang. The results were hilarious.

What helps you to write during this season?

Blessings,

Alena Tauriainen

 

3 Guilt Trips Writers Shouldn’t Take During the Holidays

Photo by Lisa Setrini-Espinosa
Photo by Lisa Setrini-Espinosa

The holiday season is full of traditions and time with family. For those working a job with set hours, the time on vacation is clear. For the self-employed, not so much.

Authors set their hours based on deadlines and personal career goals. Unfortunately, there are times when others do not understand these hours. Guilt trips can be the norm in such situations.

Sometimes writers feel guilty themselves, even when others aren’t pressuring them. There are many demands on a writer’s time. The juggle of priorities can be daunting.

How can a writer stay sane during the holidays?

Let go of guilt.

Guilt by its very definition is condemnation based on an confirmed or implied offense. Realize that if you are doing your best to juggle the priorities in your life to include your profession and family/friends, guilt doesn’t belong.

It is natural to want to please others, but it is imperative to recognize the difference between expectations and real responsibility. Making a conscious effort to let go of guilt that is really not owned brings freedom.

There are three guilt trips writers should especially keep an eye out for each year. They have the ability to sap creative energy and waste valuable time.

3 Guilt Trips Writers Shouldn’t Take During the Holidays:

*The Family Time Guilt Trip  Writers often feel guilty about not spending as much time writing during the holiday season. Although writing time may be essential if vacation time isn’t available due to writing deadlines, don’t feel guilty about spending time with family.

Time with family isn’t always guaranteed. Special moments are meant to be shared with those we love. Enjoy time with family to the fullest.

*The Writing Time Guilt Trip – If you are a writer by profession, then working the hours your job demands is part of the equation. Deadlines are part of the job. Plan ahead to have time with family and don’t waste energy feeling guilty about putting words on the page. Focus on power writing during writing times and focus on fun the rest of the holiday season.

*The January 1st Regrets Guilt Trip – Setting goals for 2017 is an important task for writers, but reflect merely on how to improve. Waste no time on guilt because it doesn’t change the past. Focus on the future of the writing journey where energy is well spent. Set goals focused on maximizing strengths and challenging weak areas in small increments.

How do you avoid guilt trips during the holiday season?

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Creative Self-Care During the Holidays by Connilyn Cossette

It’s been a crazy-hectic last few weeks for me. Not only was I working on launching and promoting Shadow of the Storm, my latest novel to release, but I was also working on galley edits for Wings of the Wind, which releases in May, and working on the first book of my next series, which is due in January—all this on top of my normal craziness: homeschooling, mom-ing, and you know, sleep. Yikes. Just writing it all out makes me tired all over again.

And now that my writing schedule has been pared down to just working on the one book, I get to relax, right? Well of course not, it’s the holiday season! The stores are full of decorations and lights. People are bustling around preparing for holiday gatherings, cooking, cleaning, shopping, wrapping presents, decorating, go, go, go…..

So how do we writers keep our creative juices flowing in the midst of this holiday season? With so many lists and plans and all sorts of left-brained activities necessary during this season, how do we nurture our writer brains too?

Here are a few ways we can ensure that our passion for writing is maintained, even in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the season:

Put first things first: Practice saying ‘No’ to extra activities that do not directly benefit your family or writing. You’ll have more time for the things that really matter during the holidays (and the rest of the year too!)

Find quiet moments of joy: Seek out times of quiet and stillness. Brew yourself a cup of yummy tea, sit by the fire if you have one, or stare out the window and bask in some happy holiday memories. Allow your mind to wander wherever it will. Your creative mind will thank you for it!

Soak up the sensory delights of the season: Go outside and enjoy the sights – colorful trees, snow, lights. People watching is especially fun this time of year and nothing can beat the delicious smells and tastes and sounds of the holidays. Practice using all of your senses in an intentional way and then incorporate that skill into your writing.

Give yourself permission to take a few days off: Enjoy your family and delight in being present with them. Even if you are on a deadline, like me, it’s so helpful to schedule a bit of relaxation and come back to your WIP with fresh eyes. Creativity needs a day or two off from time to time as well!

Use your gifts to bless others: So many people are lonely or hurting during this time of year. Write an encouraging letter or card and brighten someone’s holidays. The impact your words can have on hurting hearts is why you were given the gift in the first place.

Search out inspiration in books: Take the time to curl up and re-read a book or two that has inspired you along your writing journey. Drinking in well-crafted words of other talented authors always encourages me and sparks my own creativity.

~*~

There’s not much Connilyn Cossette likes better than digging into the rich ancient world of the Bible, uncovering buried gems of grace that point toward Jesus and weaving them into fiction. Her second novel Shadow of the Storm: Out from Egypt Series recently released through Bethany House Publishers. Connect with her at www.connilyncossette.com

Wait for it…

I know you’re in the midst of Thanksgiving preparations…me too! I can not wait until Wednesday night when the family tromps in, ready to hang out for a long, lovely weekend. (Bringing my adorable granddaughter with them!)

I know the joy of spending time with my people will be worth the cleaning, shopping, cooking and decorating now. Which makes me enjoy the preparation all that much more.

Waiting, longing, preparing for something is actually part of the joy of the event. Anticipating the joy as my guests walk into a house smelling of gingersnaps and apple pie. Listening to the giggles of little girls as they decorate a gingerbread house. Or the cheers of my men (and me!) we watch our team win a football game…

And, speaking of football—how about those Minnesota Vikings, breaking their losing streak this week? (Sorry, if you’re from Arizona).

Anticipation and the preparation makes the joy of the moment all the better because you know what went into it. And in that moment, you know the work was worth it.

Recently, I received word that one of our hard-working Novel.Academy students finalled in a big contest for pre-published novelists. I am so thrilled for her because I know the work, the dedication, the study she’s put into learning how to write a novel. This is a sweet moment for her.

But, about a year ago, she was struggling—she hadn’t gotten good scores in a previous contest and wondered if she’d ever nail this writing thing.

I told her—the only way you’ll fail for sure is if you quit. All you can do is keep pressing forward, working hard, stay focused and believe. She did, and today she’s one more step closer to her dream of being published.

Your time will come. And it’s worth the wait.

Apple Pie. The big win. The hug from a loved one.

The day your book is published.

Don’t give up. It’s worth that work.

It’s worth the wait.

Your story matters. Go! Write something brilliant.

Susie May

P.S. Have a fantastic thanksgiving!