Reasons Why Writers Need Rest from Writing

by Connilyn Cossette,@ConniCossette 

One of the things I did not anticipate about becoming a published author was just how fatigued I would become during certain periods. Book launches can be grueling and overlapping editing/writing target dates can wear an author out. The closer I get to a deadline the more exhausted my poor brain becomes and I need a thesaurus just to carry on a normal conversation.

Since this has become an issue for me, I have deemed the entire month after I turn in a manuscript to my publisher as “Writercation”. During those 30 days, I do not allow myself to start any new project other than the few odd blogs (like this one) and instead take that time to whittle away at my TBR pile and read a couple of new craft books, which always help inspire me. Of course, I do spend time pulling the craziness of my house back together after marathon deadline writing but I overlap the tedium with lots of audio books and a whole lot of daydreaming about my next book.

As a result, when I do begin that next project I have cleared away the cobwebs and gotten far enough away from the former manuscript that I can come at the new story with a fresh perspective, a rested mind, and revived inspiration.

You may not have the luxury of an entire month due to publishing schedules (and in the future, I anticipate I won’t either) but have you prioritized rest into your publishing/writing calendar? Are you taking a Sabbath rest weekly? If so, are you using that rest day to do things that are actually refreshing and nourishing to your soul or are you spending that day vacuuming and doing laundry?

There is a reason that God prescribed rest from the very beginning of Creation. The bodies he designed for us cannot sustain without regular periods of rest and neither can our minds. If we do not take that command seriously we will burn out and writing will become a burden instead of a joy.

If you are pre-published now is the time to institute these periods of rest, so that when you are under a deadline in the future, you’ll already be in the habit of doing so. Make plans to explore nature, daydream, spend time with your family, or enjoy hobbies that have been put on the back burner to focus on writing. Choose something that rejuvenates you, schedule regular time to enjoy it, and I guarantee you will be a more focused, more creative, more productive writer as a result.

What are your favorite ways to rest your body and mind? Do you have regularly scheduled days off built into your writing schedule? What benefits have you seen from these breaks?

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Connilyn Cossette is the CBA Best-Selling author of the Out from Egypt Series with Bethany House Publishing. Her debut novel, Counted with the Stars, was a finalist for both an INSPY Award and a Christian Retailing’s Best Award. There’s not much she 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 an immersive fiction experience. Although a Pacific Northwest native, she now lives in a little town near Dallas, Texas with her husband of twenty years and two awesome kids, who fill her days with laughter, joy, and inspiration. Connect with her at www.connilyncossette.com.

An Introvert’s Guide to Writers Conferences

by Connilyn Cossette,@ConniCossette 

Last week was the annual ACFW conference, which, for many writers, is one of the highlights of the year. Let me tell you, stepping out of my comfort zone to pursue a writing career was scary enough, but going to that first conference to mingle with hundreds of people I didn’t know was terrifying. If you are an introvert like me, then the prospect of small talk with strangers is a little like nails on the chalkboard, but if you have a plan you can face any writers conference with confidence.

The best way I’ve found to push past my natural bent to clam up during writers conferences is to brainstorm conversation starters in advance. Open-ended questions are best, so try to avoid ‘yes’ or ‘no’ type questions if possible. Here are some great ones to get you started:

  • How long have you been writing?
  • Which genre do you write?
  • Which sessions are you attending?
  • What are you hoping to accomplish this week?
  • Tell me about your work in progress.
  • Who are your favorite authors?
  • What got you started writing?
  • What great tips have you learned so far this week?
  • What’s your elevator pitch? (This has the benefit of helping people practice!)
  • Which agents/editors are you meeting with?
  • How are your appointments going so far?
  • Which critique group are you a part of?

The possibilities are endless! Write a few of them down if you are nervous and scan over them before you head to a meal or a class to keep them fresh in your mind. And don’t forget to bring your business cards wherever you go, exchanging cards is a great way to break the ice.

Also, keep in mind that the writing industry is full of introverts. We are, in general, a very introspective sort, which is a great strength for a writer. Start out by assuming that most of the people in the room are probably feeling a lot like you, a little out of sorts, a little insecure, and more interested in making strong connections than meaningless small-talk. At my first conference, I was at a table all by myself, feeling like a fish out of water, when two gals purposefully sat down on either side of me and engaged me in conversation. That breakfast was the beginning of two very precious friendships and writing partnerships for me. So make an effort to search out someone looks a little uncomfortable or is standing alone, you never know if that person is a future writing partner, a future best friend, or just someone who will help you practice your pitch or pray with you before an appointment.

So relax fellow introvert, plan ahead, keep yourself open to divine appointments, and keep in mind that all of us writers are just a wee bit different than the “normals,” anyhow.

Tweet: An Introvert’s Guide to Writers Conferences by @connicossette via @Novel.Academy #writing https://ctt.ec/c09bu+

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Connilyn Cossette is the CBA Best-Selling author of the Out from Egypt Series with Bethany House Publishing. Her debut novel, Counted with the Stars, was a finalist for both an INSPY Award and a Christian Retailing’s Best Award. There’s not much she 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 an immersive fiction experience. Although a Pacific Northwest native, she now lives in a little town near Dallas, Texas with her husband of twenty years and two awesome kids, who fill her days with laughter, joy, and inspiration. Connect with her at www.connilyncossette.com.

Five Ways to Master a Deadline

by Connilyn Cossette, @ConniCossette 

I am a classic procrastinator. I was that student who wrote term papers at 3 am the night before but somehow usually managed to pull through and get good grades anyhow. Having continued this pattern of last-minute-tire-squealing-finishes into adulthood I had some challenges to overcome as a professional writer. 

Although I am still the Queen of Procrastination (Exhibit A: my usual sink full of dishes and perpetually unfolded laundry) I have gradually instituted some techniques that have served me well in meeting my publisher’s deadlines and have even produced the occasional shockingly-early turn in!

Dilly-dallying around and writing whenever the muse strikes sound fun in theory but it does not produce timely manuscripts and often ends up as an excuse for over-perfectionism, which will keep any artist from delivering consistent work. Even if you don’t have a contract yet, it’s best to start training now by instituting a solid deadline for yourself.

Here are some things you can do to make deadlines work for you, whether you are a traditionally published author, an indie author, or are working towards a writing career:

1. Be realistic. Give yourself a word count that is obtainable. Writing thousands of words a day sounds fantastic but keeping up that sort of pace long term will result in burnout. If you are just starting out, pick a lower word count and then gradually increase as your “writing muscles” get stronger. 

2. Bite size portions. A 90,000-word goal can seem overwhelming, but you’ve heard the old adage about how to eat an elephant (one bite at a time), you’ll need to apply that to your manuscript and take it one bite at a time. Consistency is the name of the game, so pull out your calendar and do some math. Make a daily goal, a weekly goal, and a monthly goal and then stick to them!

3. Build in padding. Life happens. Sickness, technical problems, children—it is inevitable that your goals will need to be adjusted when unforeseen issues pop up. When you divide up your word count make sure and build in some wiggle room, just in case.

4. Take a break. We all need rest and you will do your best work if you give yourself a mental break. I take an entire month off writing between books, which means instead of dividing my word-count goal by nine months, I only do eight months with six weeks devoted to editing. This way I come to the new book refreshed. Taking one day a week off is imperative as well. Use your Sabbath day to recharge those creative batteries.

5. Reward yourself. Hit your daily goal? Watch your favorite TV show. Knock out that weekly goal? Go someplace fun with your family. Master the deadline? Head to the beach for the weekend. Even accomplishing hourly goals can be easy if you bribe yourself with a few M&M’s (although your waistline will thank you if you pace yourself). Pick something that motivates you, dangle that carrot, then celebrate your victories!

Are you a procrastinator like me? What techniques work best for you in managing deadlines?

Tweet: 5 Ways to Manage #Deadlines by @ConniCossette at @Novel.Academy #writing https://ctt.ec/RATqW+
Tweet: 5 Ways to Manage #Deadlines by @ConniCossette at @Novel.Academy #writing https://ctt.ec/RATqW+

~*~

Connilyn Cossette is the CBA Best-Selling author of the Out from Egypt Series with Bethany House Publishing. Her debut novel, Counted with the Stars, was a finalist for both an INSPY Award and a Christian Retailing’s Best Award. There’s not much she 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 an immersive fiction experience. Although a Pacific Northwest native, she now lives in a little town near Dallas, Texas with her husband of twenty years and two awesome kids, who fill her days with laughter, joy, and inspiration. Connect with her at www.connilyncossette.com.

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.

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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