Saturday, December 28, 2019
Writin’ Around the Christmas Tree ~ by Andi Lawrencovna
First off, a HUGE thank you to Kristine Raymond for inviting me to write a guest blog for today.
Secondly, a HUGE apology, because I have holidays on the brain, and so that’s where my head was headed when I sat down to write this.
I can’t tell you how many times over the past couple of months that I have sat with other authors discussing the need to stick to and follow a writing schedule. Setting aside specific time each day, or just forcing yourself to take time each day, at whatever time of day that might be, to write. Developing the habit of actually working on something so that you get a word or words down on a page every day.
Forming a habit, in everything, can be onerous, and very beneficial. I mean, my doctor tells me all the time that if I work out everyday it will become a habit and so that must be a good thing, right?
Well, writing is a form of mental workout, doc, so I think I should be good then, right?
Habits do actually work, if you stick to them and build them up, and habits can in fact be good. Many authors look at “NaNoWriMo” (National Novel Writing Month) as the first chance to build a writing habit up that they can stick to after the month is done. Essentially, if you write 1,700 words (+/-) a day in November, you can write a 50,000 word novel by the end of the month, and that will add up to a LOT of novels if you stick to that habit after November ends.
But at the end of November is Thanksgiving. And at the end of December is Christmas. And then New Years. And then my mom’s birthday. And then dad’s…and then…oh, I digress.
Now, I’m all for forming a habit and trying to stick to it, and this post is in part about that, but it’s also in part about breaking those habits to focus on equally important “other” things too.
Not just breaking the habit but allowing yourself to feel “okay” in breaking that habit, and not like you’re failing because of it.
Personally, the “holiday season” starts at Thanksgiving and ends February 1st. So, from Thanksgiving to February, there is a constant slew of parties, baking, decorating, shopping, wrapping, caroling, grousing, etc. that fills my waking time outside of the 9-5 job I pretend to hold down most days too. That doesn’t leave a lot of time to keep at that habit I tried to form during NaNoWriMo, or that I’ve stuck to the rest of the year up until this point (HA! Don’t make me laugh…).
I spent a lot of years agonizing and berating myself for not getting things done – those things being “writing” related, mind you.
Well, that negativity seriously does not help matters either. I don’t need to add more negative thoughts to my head above and beyond that tiny voice in the back of my mind already questioning if my writing and work is any good to begin with. Telling myself that I’m not worth it if I don’t reach a writing goal for a day…yeah, not good for relieving stress.
Sometimes goals and habits have to break for your own benefit and health. And let’s go further and say for your family and friends benefits and health too.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying: DON’T WRITE! Just don’t feel like you have to force yourself to write if there are other things you have to do or need or want to do instead.
It’s OKAY to take a break, to do what you need to do to be the best you. A break can lead to so many things, and you don’t need to be ashamed at needing one.
I noticed that I started to panic when I took a break from writing. My brain kept whispering these thoughts of: what if you don’t start again? What if it never comes back? What if you were never meant to write in the first place?
Brain, you are a dark stinker and I don’t think I like you write now! (And yes, I intentionally used the wrong “right” right there).
Every time I tried to look at a blank page, I got this pit in my stomach and those thoughts in my head and my “break” became this negative existence of wallowing because I wasn’t allowing myself to recognize that I needed to recharge and that taking that time to do so was okay.
I used to look at the holiday season as this glaring stop that my writing world had to come to so that I could get done everything else I needed. Then I used to fight through it trying to force writing that didn’t want to happen. Now I know that I can write, or I don’t have to, because everything comes in its own time, and a habit once formed can be broken and reformed and transformed time and again, and that is part of what being a writer, and what life is all about.
SO, for this Christmas, I’m going to probably put my pen down for a few minutes and sing some carols around the tree. I did not “steal” the recipe from a certain coffee shop for an eggnog latte, but I have definitely perfected it and I will be sampling throughout the season. And if I get some words written, great, and if not, that’s good too, because I can keep a habit, or change it, or pick up from where I left off when I decide it’s time, not when pressures tell me too.
Wishing you all the very best of holidays and the happiest of New Years! May your writing be blessed!
Listen to Andi Lawrencovna's podcast episode here.