When December rolls around, I always find myself running behind on just about everything. We were out of town for a week over Thanksgiving, which is when we usually put up the tree and decorations. We finally pulled out the boxes last weekend, but the decorating remains only half complete, and I haven’t even started on the annual Christmas letter and cards. As for Christmas shopping? Oops!!!
How do you stay motivated to keep writing when holidays, family crises, illness, or other interruptions interfere? It isn’t easy, but if you have a strategy in place, your writing life can survive.
And one of the best strategies this time of year is to stop feeling guilty for what you aren’t getting done--whether it’s shopping, baking, sending cards, keeping up with e-mail and blogs, or--yes--even pounding out the pages of your next book manuscript.
Easier said than done, but I recently read a great little book that’s full of big ideas on how to stay motivated and prioritize your life: 100 Ways to Motivate Yourself: Change Your Life Forever, by Steve Chandler. Here are a few of the sections I found especially inspiring:
#4. Keep your eyes on the prize. Chandler points out that a huge obstacle to success is letting our worries and fears distract us from our real goals. Anyone here guilty of that?
#6. Simplify your life. I always intend to simplify, but somehow things keep getting more complicated. Chandler’s advice? Make a list of every small task you need to get done in a certain period of time, like over the weekend. Then do them all in one concentrated burst of action--a “manic blitz.” Don’t put anything off, just get it done.
#40. Find your soul purpose. You’re not going to be much good to others unless and until you’re happy with yourself and excited about your work, so take the time to discover what really makes you happy.
#59. Upgrade your old habits. According to Chandler, bad habits can’t simply be broken. You have to replace the bad habit with positive action. Like eating a healthy snack instead of one heavy on calories and fat. Like doing a workout video instead of watching TV. (Hmmm, notice the connection between food and weight loss this time of year???)
#68. Get up a game. Competition can be healthy--as we “contest crazies” here in Seekerville can testify! Competition forces us to reach deep inside ourselves, helping us grow and improve. The real victory comes not from besting someone else, but from bringing out the best in ourselves.
#73. Use the 5% solution. “Great things are often created very slowly,” Chandler writes. What if you brought 5% more purposefulness into each day? What kinds of changes would you see in your life?
#74. Do something badly. We’ve all heard the old adage, if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well. But what if that isn’t necessarily true? Whether it’s writing that first draft, baking Christmas goodies, composing a Christmas letter, or cleaning house for company, maybe we don’t have to be perfect. Maybe we should give ourselves permission to do something “badly.” Can you let go of perfectionism enough to just get started on some task that’s facing you?
#85. Replace worry with action. Worry only increases the problem, but when we get busy and act on our worries and fears, we regain control.
#101. Teach yourself the power of negative thinking. This one might well be my favorite. Saying no can be a powerful thing. It means standing up for ourselves and our beliefs, taking a stand against things we simply won’t tolerate. Ask yourself what you really don’t want in life, and experience a burst of energy to turn that into positive motivation!
Anything you’d add to this list? What are your biggest challenges during the busy holiday season?