Forget the resolutions, seize the day
So it’s Boxing Day. You’re looking at leftover turkey in the fridge and wondering how to recycle it, swearing that next year you’ll be moderate in your eating, drinking or both, and working up some serious New Year resolutions.
If you’re a writer, one of the biggest vows will be Make time to write. Published or unpublished it’s top of the list for everybody, along with ‘Stay at the computer until you’ve written something’. For me, writing’s like exercising - as soon as I take my eye off the ball, I stop.
And Xmas/New Year is one mighty big ball.
I’ve been staring it down since October as I write my fourth Superromance. With a deadline of February 28, and a southern hemisphere summer that includes school holidays from December 20 until February 9 plus lots of family visiting from overseas I knew it would be tough to get a 260 page draft finished before December 20. As it turned out, I got to page 239 before Xmas grabbed me and threw me into present buying, housework, socialising and menu planning.
What am I going to do about it? Very little. Half an hour a day to be exact.
I stopped making resolutions some years back because I realised that writing lists always makes me feel like I’ve done the work and can relax now. Plus there’s usually the word ‘tomorrow’ implied in there somewhere. I will exercise regularly (when things calm down). I will eat more healthily (once the Xmas leftovers are gone). I will find time to write (once extended family has left after their three-week stay and I have the peace I need to be creative). Once I’m no longer...stressed... tired... having such a good time.
Funny how the creative excuses never run out.
It’s taken me most of my adult life to come to terms with the fact that I’m not Superwoman. I know that at this time of the year I have other priorities, so to short-circuit the worry gremlin I find thirty minutes a day during the holidays to go do something on my WIP. That way I can forget about it and truly give my family my whole attention. Not to mention give myself a mental rest.
Thirty minutes a day keeps the book alive in my subconscious and reminds me that I’m a writer as well as a mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend, house cleaner, gardener, social organiser, cook and all those other things we take on this time of the year.
Making this time is even more critical if you’re unpublished because writing’s so easy to relegate when you’re new. Because you’re not getting paid and you’re not sure you’re good enough (or ever will be), so you minimise writing’s importance which in turn encourages your friends and family to do the same. It’s no big deal so down the priority list it goes.
But thirty minutes a day takes the pressure off. Your expectations drop. You no longer think every word you write has to be brilliant or you have to write 20 pages because you only have half an hour, right? Your internal doubt devil doesn’t bother showing up because, hey, what can you achieve in half an hour?
As it turns out - quite a lot. You’ll find you focus more quickly and become more productive. You’re setting patterns of consistency and commitment – the qualities you need to sell and sustain a career. Every word written, every tiny paragraph, every half page makes your writing incrementally better. And taking thirty minutes a day reinforces to everybody - especially you - that this matters.
So forget resolutions for the year and make a commitment to the Now, and yourself as a writer. And they really will be happy holidays.
New Zealand author Karina Bliss has sold five books to Harlequin Superromance. Her third, Mr Unforgettable is a February release in North America; March in Australasia. To read an excerpt, visit her website on http://www.karinabliss.com/.