Gary Hurtubise

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Category: Christmas

20th Post – getting re-engaged with writing in 2018

Hello, and Happy New Year!

Now, I’m not generally a fan of New Year’s Resolutions.  However, I’ve been in a bit of a writing lull recently, and have been looking for a way to get my butt back into it.  So what better way is there to get motivated than to find inspiration in other people’s New Year’s blogs!?

…but first:

Recap of Writing; Fall of 2017

  1. Rejections, rejections, rejections. These little messages in my inbox are becoming quite normal now – in fact, part of me gets a little thrill when I read in the preview box:  “Hello, thank you for letting us read your story.  Unfortunately…
  2. CANCON 2017 in Ottawa. It was great to meet some local and international authors, and do some <ugh> networking.  Looking forward to next year’s convention!
  3. Working full-time. This is my excuse for not getting a lot of actual words written this fall.  Thankfully, that will all change in February, when I’m back to part time! Yay!  (well, it had better change, or Trevor will not be pleased with me…)
  4. Getting started as a ghost writer… more to follow in a future post!

Ok – onto the motivational part:

Getting Back to Writing in 2018

Two author-bloggers that I follow have done all my work for me for this post.

C. Hope Clark – ready to get writing!

First, Funds for Writers blogger and author of the Edisto Island Mystery series, C. Hope Clark, talks in her New Year’s newsletter about taking a break over the holidays, then getting back into writing – 500 words per day, as a “benchmark minimum”.

Here’s what Hope has to say about January:

This time of year excites me. The whole clean slate sort of thing. In reality the days are no different, but there’s something rejuvenating at having a new chance at making a difference. . . at becoming better. . . at making longer and more productive strides toward a goal.

Read her full post here, and subscribe to her great free newsletter here.

Second, David Farland – renown author of the Runelords series – talks about how he hates the word ‘resolute’, but finds himself always making yearly resolutions.  This year’s advice to others is to develop a new relationship with your computer.  Here’s an excerpt of his #writing tips for the new year:

            …many of your habits are subconscious. Some people teach themselves that the computer is for videogames, or it’s for checking email, or it’s for chatting on Facebook. So when they sit down to the keyboard, by force of habit they immediately begin playing.

But what if you trained yourself to make writing your habit? What if you tried something like this:

Close your eyes and think about something that excites you. Perhaps it’s the idea of getting your first novel published, or maybe it’s an award you’ve won, or just the joy that will come when you complete your novel. Think about it, and let the excitement build for 15 seconds.

Now, sit at your computer, open the file to your work in progress. Do not do anything else. Instead, open your WIP and write one paragraph.

When you’re done with that paragraph, get up from your computer and walk around the room for a moment, thinking about what you might want to do with your work in progress.

Repeat step 1, thinking about something that excites you, and letting the excitement sweep through you.

I like it!  Read David’s full post here, and subscribe to his #writing tips by clicking his banner below!

Ok – with that advice in mind, it’s back to my keyboard for another 500 words today!

 

 

How to Keep Writing Over the Holidays

Feeling down due to the frantic pressure of institutionalized holiday cheer (aka: the purchase of tawdry commercial goods to exchange with family and friends that you’d normally keep no closer than several hundred kilometers at any other time of the year)?

Overwhelmed by the reams of tasks that always seem to build up at this time of year?

Have you already started your yearly holiday treat binge (can you say: let’s add candy canes to everything)?

Or… most importantly…

Have you lost your will to write?

 

…It’s insidious, the way it happens:

Maybe you’ve come off a month of crazy productive writing (aka: NaNoWriMo), and said to yourself: ‘hey – that wasn’t so bad.  I should keep this up for December too!’  And then you find yourself one week from the 25th of December, not having written a bloody thing…

Or maybe you’ve been in a good, dependable writing routine for months, which has inexplicably trickled down to nothing – without you even ‘noticing’?  (But you did notice it, didn’t you?)

 

So what’s your excuse?

Does your holiday make you see red…rum?

The holidays, of course.  They’re a time to slow down, relax, chill-out, enjoy life—what’s that, you say?  They’re the most stressful time of year?!  There’s no time to do anything, much less writing?!?

Of course there’s no time to write!  Everything else at this time of year is too important, you know?  Your family members or your friends or your employer – they all take precedence over you, don’t they?  Don’t be so selfish as to think you can fit this silly little writing habit into your holiday…

So when will there be time for you?  For your writing?

 

Key #1 to successful holiday writing: SELFISHNESS

Yeah.  It’s an ugly word.  But when’s the last time your kids, or your spouse, or your friends, or your boss said: “hey – why don’t you just take today for you?  Don’t worry about us.  We’ll manage just fine.”

I bet it’s been a while, eh?

Remember: if you were sick, they’d manage, wouldn’t they?

If you were away on a trip, they’d manage too.

And even if you said: “you know what?  I’m NOT cooking tonight”, they’d still somehow manage, wouldn’t they?  (They’d just order out pizza, of course.)

So let’s say you do it: pull back from life, and force in a few hours – hell, even a day! – of writing.  You might be surprised (disappointed, even) to learn that you’re not as critical to the smooth running of the universe as you have come to believe.

The first step to writing over the holidays: TAKE time for yourself.

(Oh, but be prepared for pushback.  In fact, you might have to be a bit of a Grinch about it!)

Alright, you’ve gone all selfish and grinchy, and you’ve bought yourself writing time. Now what?  Does the muse immediately jump right back into your life and send you into a whirling, whizzing frenzy of writing?

No, she does not.

You sit at the computer, aglow from you new-found (albeit temporary) writing block, ready to work the magic.  But hold on!  You haven’t checked Youtube in like, at least an hour, so maybe you should just– No, wait!  IT’S A TRAP!

 

Key #2 to successful holiday writing: ACCOUNTABILITY

This is my weakness.  I’m a classic procrastinator.  I work with hard deadlines.  But self-generated ‘soft’ deadlines?  They just make my monkey laugh. (No, I’m not being gross or weird – check out this TED talk on the inner monkey of a procrastinator).

Me, sitting at my desk, alone, without a deadline…  Well, that’s just a recipe for Zero Productivity.

I’ve tried lots of things to put the evil procrastinator monkey in its place:

-making detailed to-do lists, organized by degree of importance and urgency

-setting small, easily attainable goals

-promising myself rewards for work well-done

-the Pomodoro Technique

-setting up a tickler system of file folders in my desk drawer

-trying to work up enough shame and guilt to drive me to ‘get it done’

They all work at first.  Maybe a few days.  Maybe a few weeks, even.  Then something weasel’s its way into the works (typically resulting in an unavoidable change in schedule, even for just a few days), and I’m back to square one, surfing hours (yes, hours) of the best Youtube has to offer.  Or, very often, the not-so-best.

Why were none of these techniques my holy grail for a no-procrastination writing routine?  Well, for one, I don’t believe in a holy grail for anything (life’s too complicated for a single fix, imho).  Secondly, all of the techniques I tried were monitored and policed by… moi.

I can’t do it.  I wish my will was stronger.  And maybe, at some level, I’m just being a cop-out.

 

Regardless of the why, the who has to change.

(And that’s where I should end this post.  Because I don’t know what else to say.  I haven’t solved this problem yet.  I’m not sure who is… who.

Maybe I need an anti-procrastinator coach – someone to hold me to account for my actions and accomplishments day-to-day or week-to-week?

Maybe a writer’s group is the key (in-person would be better – you can more easily ‘slip away’ from an online forum).

Or maybe I need to be looking for a procrastinators-anonymous group out there somewhere?)

 

Anyways, as Christmas ticks closer and closer, I’ll be fighting my monkey, and looking for the solution to who I need to keep me writing.

 

And that’s it for 2016!  Until next year, I wish you and yours a happy and safe holiday season!

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