6 Productivity Thoughts for the Holidays

by Jeanne Takenaka, @JeanneTakenaka

A few years ago, my schedule and pace exhausted me. A traveling husband’s schedule, boys’ activities, Christmas concerts, preparing and mailing out our Christmas letters, wrapping gifts . . . all of it caused me to forget how to breathe deep and sleep hard. I was running on crazy/busy/empty/breathless. I literally only inhaled shallow breaths.

In writing life, I concentrated on my third story, blogged, and was trying to build a platform . . . on top of all the real-life stuff. God warned me—I was headed for health troubles.

There are times when we need a little grace. During those busy weeks between Thanksgiving and the end of the year? We need a lot of grace.

What should we do when we must step back from our normal writing pace, but we still want to be productive?

Never fear. There are smaller, less-time-intensive tasks we can do to move us forward during the busy holiday season and organize us for next year:

  1. Give ourselves permission to rest. Agents and editors usually take this time of year off to catch up and to focus on family and friends. Unless we’re on deadline, we should take a cue from them and give our bodies, minds, and spirits space to rejuvenate.
  2. For bloggers, it’s okay to take a break from active blogging. Most of our readers are also busy with Christmas schedules. They may not visit as often anyway. We should let our readers know what we’re doing so they don’t worry about (or forget!) us.
  3. Look at what is and isn’t working with our blogs and platforms. Is it time to update our themes? Which social media posts are drawing/not drawing attention? Check logistical things like gravatar and bios and see if they’re current.
  4. Be on the lookout for ideas to begin posting on our blogs and social media sites in January. If possible, find an idea/series that can pique your readers’ interests based on the themes you write about.
  5. For those who have tons of pictures, this can be a good time to pull out the laptop (or phone or wherever they’re stored). Delete duplicates, blurry photos, and other photos that no longer speak to us.
  6. Give ourselves permission to fully engage with family and friends. This is a special time of year. We should be intentional with our time. When we’re with loved ones, let’s love well.

Writing life should take a back seat to real life.

After that Christmas season, I made some changes—for my sanity and my family’s.

Our boys’ schedules still run us a little ragged, but taking a break from most things writing in December has lightened my spirit. Come January, I’m eager to get back to all things writing.

And, I’ve learned how to slow down and breathe more deeply.

What about you? What tips would you add for those who want to be productive but not stressed during the Christmas season?

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~*~

Jeanne Takenaka writes contemporary fiction that touches the heart. She won My Book Therapy’s Frasier award in 2014 after finaling in the contest in 2013. She was a Genesis 2015 finalist in the romance category, and she finaled in the Launching a Star Contest and the Phoenix Rattler in 2012. An active member of RWA, ACFW and My Book Therapy, Jeanne blogs about life and relationships at http://jeannetakenaka.wordpress.com. A graduate with an M.A. in education, she resides in Colorado with her husband and two exuberant teenage boys who hope to one day have a dog of their own.

 

Why is a Writer Like a Bumblebee by Angela Arndt

You’ve heard the story that, after an extensive study, a scientist proclaimed there was no valid reason a bumblebee could fly? It turns out the study was completed in 1934, and there have been one or two advances in the field of aeronautical engineering since then.  Shout it from the rooftops: “Science proves bumblebees CAN fly.”

This morning, I saw a bumblebee in our yard bouncing from stem-to-stem. When its little body landed atop one blossom, the branch swayed way down, almost to the ground. But, instead of flying away, it stayed aboard and vibrated its tiny wings just little harder.

I admit it, I’m curious; I did a little research on this intrepid insect.

  • Bumblebee nests may be underground, in abandoned mouse holes, or bird boxes – any place that’s dark and quiet.
  • If you robbed a bumblebee nest, it would yield only get a few ounces of honey. In comparison, if you harvest the honey from only a few frames of honeybee comb, your output would be closer to a gallon.
  • Bumblebees pollinate some plants that honeybees can’t, including tomatoes, Brazil nuts, cactus, and eggplant.
  • The name, bumblebee, means “clumsy.” (They don’t seem to care.)

So why is a writer like a bumblebee?

  1. A writer should be a writing machine, even if when if the product crashes-and-burns. Remember: just flap a little harder and hang on.
  2. Writer’s lairs are usually in the unused, forgotten, dusty parts of the house. However, writing dens belonging to the species, published author, tend to be gorgeous and well-lit.
  3. All writers may not produce the same amount of honey (or money), but all writers must write.
  4. All forms of writing are valid. Novellas, short stories, articles and flash fiction can be as compelling as full-length novels.
  5. If an online reviewer, from the genus trollus, calls your work “clumsy,” ignore them. The data needed to make that determination won’t be available until you’ve left this earth. In the meantime, write like a bumblebee.

Writers of the world, let’s make this our rally cry: “Bumblebees CAN fly!”

Eh, maybe not.

~*~

 

fb-Headshot aearndt 82113When Angela Arndt is not watching bumblebees or robbing honey bee hives, she enjoys writing mysteries set in small Southern towns. Coincidentally, she, her husband, and their three very large dogs (a lab mix, Staffordshire terrier, and a 12-pound poodle) live in the middle of a big wood outside a small Southern town. She would love for you to visit her website, or Seriously Write, her team blog.