Holidays - A Writer's Interruption?

Thanks to 
It's that "wonderful time of the year" again. December. Christmas is crowding in and crowding everything else out.

I used to get frustrated with holidays - any of them throughout the year. They are such an interruption to writing and usually come when I'm on a roll.

I'm changing my attitude. Holidays are good. God gave us holidays for a reason. (For you purists, yes, I know God didn't give us Christmas in the same way he gave the Israelites Festivals and holidays. But he gave those holidays and set the example.) Holidays are a time to slow down. Or stop. To think. Remember. Remember what is important. Be thankful. Re-evaluate. Re-focus.

Without holidays time just spins past and we risk not even noticing. (Tweet that!)

So December is a time to analyze what we've done this past year and where we're going in the next one. Are we going to get done the goals we set at the beginning of the year? Or is it another year to be disappointed? Goals unfinished. Writing projects undone.

Some of us have been doing this writing-thing for a while. We've seen many Decembers roll around in our writing lives. It can feel like December after December of unmet goals turn into years gone by and the writing projects we set out to do years ago remain unfinished. (Tweet that!)

When I started out in this gig, my big dream was to write a novel. Guess what is the one thing I have not done? (Well, I've written a few unpublished novels. I've learned a great deal from writing those.) I've written more than 300 published magazine articles and short stories, hundreds more online articles, six nonfiction books, contributed to twenty more books, and have written five feature-length screenplays. But not a publishable novel.

Can  you relate? Does this feel familiar? What's a writer to do?

How to Accomplish Your Goals

Then the next logical question is what do we do about it? As I look ahead to this next thirteen months - December through next year - here are my thoughts about it at this moment:

1. Make a new plan.

I never subscribed to that "write every day" rule. (Tweet that!) I much prefer to have a large chunk of uninterrupted time when I can concentrate on a big project. But I never get there. I've always thought I needed to get everything else done first so I can enjoy my big special project. But I never get everything else done.

Time for a new plan. I'm going to take the advice I've heard often and try to write every day. I know the word count will add up. I know I'll be chipping away at that big goal.

Does this strategy sound like it can work for you?

2. Reevaluate your schedule

What has cluttered up your time? All that "everything" I mentioned in #1 above is just stuff. Yes, it's stuff that needs to be done. Email and platform-building and marketing, oh my. But you know what? It can wait.

I'm putting my writing first this next thirteen months. Not "everything else." (Tweet that!)

3. Start a New Job

Writing is a job. It's our work. Our career. (Even if you have another one with a paycheck.)

So I'm going to claim my most creative time for my writing. And I'm going to guard it.

My most creative time is first thing in the morning. (That is, after I read my Bible for a bit and feed the cat and give her her insulin.) If I start with Facebook, email, or something else it eats up my time. By 10:00 other things come into my world that demand attention. I need to get writing done before then. Ignore all else. Even the phone.

What is your best, most creative time? How can you block off and guard that time for writing?

One day a week I must go out of town. Okay, that's worked into my schedule. I make up for it on Saturdays.

What must-dos are on your schedule? How can you work around that to still get your writing time?

Like a job you show up for or get fired. That's what writing should be. Honestly, I think most writers should be fired. (Tweet that!) They, or we, are not doing our jobs. Do you want to keep your job as a writer? Then get to work. (I'm talking to myself. Mostly.)

4. Make new goals.

Monthly. Weekly. Daily. We know how quickly the end of the year rolls around. Again.

Do you make yearly goals? I do. But obviously these must be broken down to monitor how we're progressing.

My new "write every day" goal does not have a word count attached. I have no idea how many words I'll write each day and that's okay for now. I'm making progress.  (Tweet that!)

Also without a deadline attached is research. I want to do research for some projects I've had in mind for a long time. I've always felt January is a good time to do that but I've yet to get it done.  This January, I'll try again.

What new or renewed writing goals are your going to make?

5. Never give up on your Dream

Don't they say dreams come true in December? Renew your dream. Your Christmas wish.

For me, I'm renewing my dream of writing a novel.

What's your renewed dream?

Thanks to 
Let's work harder than ever before through the coming months to make our dreams come true. Let's put words away in a manuscript like savings in a bank and watch them build up. (Tweet that!) Remember I'm right there with you, saving toward the same goal. I hope my Christmas gift to me next year will be a finished novel.

6. Be grateful for what has gone before

All that other writing is not wasted at all. It was learning. Even those unpublished novels I've written were learning projects.
  • Articles taught me how to put words on paper and how to communicate thoughts coherently and succinctly.
  • The nonfiction books taught me about publishing and the marketplace and selling books.
  • Contributions to 20 books gave me confidence and standing in the writing and book world.
  • Screenplays taught me story structure and building characters and worlds and, again, writing and communicating coherently as well as telling a story succinctly.
All of this learning has been necessary for me to get to where I know I can write the novel I've always wanted to write. So here I am. (Tweet that!)

It's time.

It has been a long journey - more than 25 years of a writing journey for me. But all of it has brought me here. And now I can't wait for the new year. I'm already writing daily. I've already started my novel. I can't wait to see where this leads in the new year.

But first, I'm grateful for the interruption of holidays.

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