by Maria Geraci
In just a couple of days we’ll be entering the most wonderful time of the year. Or as I like to call it, the most stressful time of the year. Don’t get me wrong, I love the holidays. I love getting together with friends and family (yes, even my mother-in-law). Love eating lots of good food. I love the lights, the music, the decorations, and especially the renewed spirit of giving that infects so many people between Thanksgiving and Christmas.And okay, I confess, I also love the Charlie Brown Christmas special and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (never too old for that!)
What I don’t like is the stress. The stress of trying to do too much (and spend too much!) and the added pounds and the disruption of routine. In particular, my writing routine. I’m not a NaNoWriMo person. I’ve tried crash writing (just like I’ve tried crash dieting) and it doesn’t work for me. Routine is what works for me. And lists. I love making lists. So I decided to write down a list of tips for writing through the holidays, and I stumbled across an article titled How to Stick to your Diet during the Holidays (WikiHow). Amazingly, eating healthy and effective writing habits have a lot in common. I took 5 of the best tips and tweaked them up (Girlfriends Book Club style).
- Focus on People, not the food. Focus on the big picture, not word counts. While word counts are important, sometimes it’s just as important to make progress by figuring out what happens during a scene or what happens next in your story. Some of my most productive writing days have occurred when I’ve done negative word counts. In other words, when I’ve figured out that a scene wasn’t working and decided to cut it out. Usually, this propels me to something important in the story and gets my creative juices flowing.
- Make the Occasional Party the exception to your diet, not the rule. While it’s okay to skip a day of writing (because let’s face it, we all have days we just want to have fun), try not to skip more than 2 days in a row. Writing inspires more writing. Like exercise, it’s hard to get back in the routine if you’ve let too much time pass. So don’t let too much time pass.
- Choose wisely from foods available during holiday functions. In other words, eat more shrimp, less chocolate. Same goes with writing. If you’re on deadline during the holidays (which I am!) your writing has to sometimes come first. It’s a job, not a hobby. Sometimes we just have to say no to holiday fun. Pick what’s really important and skip events that you won’t be missed from.
- Eat Slowly and Mindfully. Savor your writing time. Protect it. Let your family know your writing routine and what you need to get accomplished so that they’ll help you, not sabotage you during the holidays.
- Reward Yourself. In the end, remember that life is all about balance. Set realistic goals and then take time out for what’s important in life. Family, friends, and love.
Happy Thanksgiving (and Happy Writing!)
Maria Geraci writes fun, romantic women's fiction for Berkley, Penguin USA. Her latest release, A GIRL LIKE YOU, is available online and at bookstores everywhere. Please visit her website at www.mariageraci.com.