Tuesday, November 12, 2013
The writer's guide to surviving the holidays
Then in mid-December, our missionary kids will return from Ethiopia to spend the next five or six months with us! Which is great news--we have grandbaby #7 on the way (child #4 for this daughter). But our “downsized” house will be bursting at the seams for a while!
Oh, and did I mention my husband just had knee replacement surgery??? Can you spell C-R-A-N-K-Y? (And I’m not just talkin’ hubby here!)
So forgive me, but busy and distracted as I already am, I’m reprising a large part of this blog from my December 8, 2009 post. I hope you’ll agree these snippets of wisdom are well worth repeating.
How do you find the stamina and motivation to keep writing when holidays, family visits, illness, or other interruptions are running you ragged? 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 a few years ago I 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? Just last week guest blogger Bonnie Doran posted on this very subject. If you need some encouragement to release the fears that hold you back, be sure to check it out!
#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—including the first draft of your next book?
#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?
If you’d like to win a copy of Steve Chandler’s impressive little book, just mention your interest in a comment!