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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3 Idea Sparking Tips To Jumpstart Your NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month is just around the corner and it is time to prepare to complete the rough draft of your novel in a month. Maybe you’ve never tried to write a novel in a month before. This year is the perfect time to start flexing your writing muscles with a new challenge.

If you’ve tried before and failed, this is your year!

What makes this year different? You. You are stronger than the last time you took this journey. More resources are at your fingertips.

It is never too early to plan for a success. Time to brainstorm what you need to finish a novel in thirty days. You’ll need more than caffeine, bon bons, and popcorn.

A support team, resources, and a game plan are all essential. Here a few ideas to get you started.

3 Idea Sparking Tips To Jumpstart Your NaNoWriMo:

Gather your team of supporters and look at your calendar. Each week find ways to have them help you along the thirty-day novel journey. Here are a few ways they can help.

*Gather an Encouragement Task Force- Have family and friends sending encouraging cards or letters during November. Assign weeks so you have at least two encouraging notes a week to read when you are struggling, or have them send to you at the beginning of the month and choose when you need them most.

*Gather a Family Task Force- Recruit a few friends or family members who could help with household/family responsibilities. A few hours of babysitting, dinner duty, cleaning, car pool, etc. Plan these things ahead by calling them in now.

*Gather a Writing Craft Buddy- Find a writing buddy to travel the journey with is huge. Someone to hold you accountable and encourage you not to give up on the really low days is often the difference between quitting and reaching “The End.” Together you can celebrate the successes and talk all about the voices in your head.

Are you planning to join NaNoWriMo or the thirty-day novel journey this year? What do you plan to do to prepare?

Looking for more Idea Sparks to help write your novel in a month?

My newest release: Idea Sparking: 30 Idea Sparks to Write a Novel in a Month is a great way to help you spark your novel.  Why?

Idea Sparking: 30 Idea Sparks to Write a Novel in a Month accompanies an author on a thirty-day novel journey. Daily idea prompts assist authors in finding the inspiration to write. With personal experience insights and goal setting reflections, this book is the perfect resource for the writer who wants to write a novel in a month, or the author looking for a resource for their everyday writing journey. What you will find in this incredible resource:

*A weekly inspirational focus to get you ready to write

*Daily Idea Sparks to spark your creativity and get you writing

*Mini writing craft tips that enhance your writing

*Daily Mid-day Milestones with thought-provoking questions to improve writing habits

*Weekly Check-Ups to retune your process to set you up for success

RAFFLECOPTER – Prizes are $50 Amazon Gift Card and 1 hour phone brainstorming session with Michelle Lim

Join the Idea Sparking adventure:

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Michelle-Lim-blog-pixAuthor Michelle Lim is the Brainstorming/Huddle Coach with My Book Therapy Press and the Midwest Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers. Michelle’s Genesis winning romantic suspense is represented with Books & Such Literary Agency. Michelle’s New Release – Idea Sparking: 30 Idea Sparks to Write a Novel in a Month releases October 27th. Since her nonfiction book release, Idea Sparking: How To Brainstorm Conflict In Your Novel, through public speaking and online chats Michelle helps writers discover the revolutionary power of brainstorming to bring new life to their stories. Connect with Michelle on Facebook, Twitter at @MichelleLim24, or my blog at www.thoughtsonplot.worpress.com .

Brainstorming the Villain Persona

Photo by ba1969
Photo by ba1969

Villains bring the whole creepy factor to your novel. Sometimes villains are devious and brilliant, other times they are crass and brutish. But one thing they all have in common is that they have a public persona.

What exactly do I mean by public persona?

A villain’s public persona is the image they project to the community. We often hear of killers who fooled everyone around them. They were model citizens, community leaders and the perfect family man. Maybe they skulk through dark alleys, avoid any contact with someone who might recognize them, or generally dislike interacting with people.

Brainstorming the villain persona is a key element to developing their point of view scenes and the way that they threaten your hero/heroine.

Questions To Ask When Brainstorming the Persona of a Villain:

*Do they prefer public attention or invisibility?

This component is essential to determine because it will impact the actions and proximity opportunities for the villain. Research profiles of these types of villains so you can best fit their persona to their psychological makeup.

*How do they get attention or stay invisible?

The public attention seeking villain will be a leader in the community, or run for public office. If there is a desire to stay invisible, there are actions taken to keep away any attention. This villain also will also find any public attention as an obstacle.

*What community functions or activities are they involved in or conversely, which ones do they avoid?

Identifying if they are a deacon at their church, running for mayor, or simply flip burgers on the night shift is key to determining what opportunities will arise for the villain to access, threaten, or plot against the hero/heroine.

*What gives my villain a thrill?

The public persona of the villain often informs what gives the villain the greatest rush. Once you identify their preferences you are able to pull in their moments of euphoric rush

What is the most interesting element of the public persona of a known villain that you’ve heard of?

Brainstorming Your Way Out Of Writer’s Block Strategy #3 – Just One Verb

There are times when writer’s block slams us with the inability to progress. A flat scene is fixable, but an empty page with no fresh ideas numbs the creativity.

It might be the overwhelming responsibility of getting the whole story on the page. Maybe a specific scene is difficult to build into the criteria you have in mind.

Here is what it might look like to use this strategy:

1. Start with just one verb. One action that the whole scene is about.

Verb: Choose an action word to describe what is happening or what your character is doing in this scene. Examples: running, hiding, chasing, abandoned, etc.

Let’s use the word abandoned for this exercise to build a scene. Here is what it might look like to use this strategy.

2. Ask yourself the following sensory questions:

How does abandoned look?

Abandoned looks like a person alone by themselves in a room, or sitting to the side at a social function, it looks like the solitary light bulb that hangs from the ceiling, it looks like someone who is different than anyone else.

How does abandoned smell?

Abandoned smells like musty old books, the dust of an antique memory chest, the weeds of an abandoned baseball field.

How does abandoned taste?

Abandoned tastes like a dry bread crust, a gulp of salty ocean water, a moldy piece of cheese, etc.

How does abandoned sound?

Abandoned sounds like the grind of metal on metal, a lone rusted swing blowing in the wind, the howl of the wind through the trees, etc.

How does abandoned feel to the touch?

Abandoned feels like the silk of cobwebs, the dust of an abandoned house, splinters from a warn porch swing, etc.

3. Put the details together to create a scene.

*Pick a setting where we find something that can showcase the POV character being abandoned. Let’s try an attic.

*I’ve already painted many sensory details. Weave these into the scene.

*Find something abandoned in the setting to use as a metaphor, like a doll from childhood that is in the memory chest.

The next time you struggle with writer’s block, try to start with just one verb to jumpstart your creativity.


Huddle Coach, Michelle Lim

Michelle Lim blog pix Our Huddle Coach, Michelle Lim semi-finaled in the 2011 Genesis with Death’s Apprentice and received Bronze Medal Recognition in the 2010 Frasier contest with Singed. She is the vice president of MN N.I.C.E., a local chapter of ACFW. At My Book Therapy she coordinates the e-zine’s Genre Java Column and is the Brainstorm and Huddle Coach,our program for local craft groups. Michelle taught elementary school for eleven years. She lives in Minnesota with her husband Hui Hong and four rambunctious kids that keep her life full of laughter and suspense. Contact her at: huddles@mybooktherapy.com.