With winter on its way and holidays right around the corner, we often find that our writing time gives way to more important tasks. Our routines favor indulgence rather than diligence and our minds are filled with sugar plum dreams rather than book plots. As a result, our motivation tanks, our book sales stagnate, and we're left with feelings of dissatisfaction when spring rolls around. We wish we'd spent more time developing that idea we had, that we had finished that draft that's now been collecting dust for three months, or that we had taken the time to promote our published books more.
Instead of suffering from the post-holiday writer's guilt, the goal is to keep writing despite our busy festive schedules. Wouldn't it be great if you not only met your writing goals, but that you kept making progress during the holidays? In that alternate universe, you'd write your book sooner, edit sooner, and publish quicker. At the end of the day, isn't that the dream? We think so. That's why we're sharing 5 tips for staying motivated this winter.
1. Redefine Your Goals
Before the holiday rush starts it's important to reassess your writing goals and write them down. Keeping a journal or notebook with your goals and progress can not only keep you organized, but it can act as motivation. When you write down your new goals, think about your schedule and make note of the following: Time allowance, other responsibilities (and how frequently they need attending to), when company will be coming over, holiday events, preparations for said events, and any other daily task you know will take your attention away from writing (such as kids, time with spouse, chores, etc.). Taking these into account will allow you to build a realistic view of what your new writing routine needs to work around. A realistic perspective will keep you from making goals that are impossible to reach, and will be more likely to keep you writing in the long-run as a result. For example, writing 1,000 words a day may have been reachable on a lazy summer afternoon, but may not be feasible during party season. That being said, adjusting it to 500 words a day seems a lot more manageable in between entertaining guests and opening gifts.
2. Plan To Be Flexible
We plan for everything else in our lives, why not plan for things to go wrong? Prevention is the key to writing success. Knowing that we won't follow our schedules and writing routines one-hundred percent means that we are being self-aware. It means that we know that the day after Christmas will be spent curling up in front of the TV with our spouse rather than writing. Knowing this, we plan ahead to not write that day. Devoting time to self-care and the natural lulls in our holiday writing schedule gives us permission to rest and enjoy those quiet moments, rather than feeling guilty for not writing. To do this, you may have to shift things around. Plan and follow through with a bit more writing one day so that you know you can do nothing the next. Pay attention to your energy and inspiration levels. Feeling burnt out? Plan an inspiring activity instead. Then return to writing after the break. Being flexible will keep you feeling engaged and committed to your writing rather than being discouraged.
3. Use Time Wisely
With so much to do, sometimes what works is unconventional. If you find yourself struggling with a routine maybe the right move is to abandon it altogether and instead take tiny increments of time whenever you can spare it. Write in the kitchen while your Turkey is cooking. Take thirty minutes in between loads of laundry to write. Even taking ten minutes to text yourself your ideas in the bathroom at a family party adds up to a novel when brought together.
4. Learn To Say No
Sometimes saying no is the hardest thing to do, especially during the season of giving, when it's almost expected of us to do and be more. This is when you have to take a step back and put yourself and your writing first. It's not selfish to keep your writing time sacred. You're not being selfish if you leave a party early, or if you'd rather stay home to write. Do what will most benefit you and your story and don't let anyone make you feel guilty for sticking to your goals. Those who truly love you won't mind your absence for thirty minutes once they understand how important it is to you.
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5. Self-Care Still Matters
Don't forget to take a moment to breathe! With all the extra stress sometimes what we need most is to curl up on the couch with a hot drink, fuzzy blanket, and a good book. When inspiration and motivation runs dry, recharging and refreshing our minds can benefit us in more ways the one. In addition to soaking up appreciation for the holiday spirit, we also get to cultivate new book ideas- it's a win/win! Remember, writing is only half the job. Thinking about writing counts too.
Though the holidays can distract us from our writing, it's important to keep our eyes on the prize. If your goal is to write your book and publish, you have to learn discipline. With these 5 tips you can help keep yourself on track and one step closer to meeting your writing goals.
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