Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Banking the Fires

Sharon Wildwind

I hope you’re not on some horrendous deadline at the moment, because this blog is about one word.

Stop

Whether you’re celebrating Hanukkah, Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa or some combination of those and other holidays, it’s time to rest. Right, along with last-minute shopping, a couple of holiday parties, defrosting a thirty-pound turkey, driving half-way across the state (if not the country) and putting up with an unconscionable number of relatives around the festive table.

Before I made a commitment to this writing business, back when writing was a very serious hobby, the last two weeks of December were often the only time during the year when I could put serious time into writing. One of the advantages of being a professional writer is that having spent the other 50 weeks of the year worrying about the writing and the marketing, I feel justified in taking the last two weeks of December off.

If you’ve ever warmed yourself with a wood fire, or even a fireplace, you’ll know that if you don’t want to wake up freezing your tail off in the morning, the one essential task is to bank the fire the last thing at night. The same is true for writers. There is a good chance that it’s going to be as hard cranking up the writing machine come January 2nd or 3rd, as it’s going be actually going to the gym. (You did make that resolution to get healthier next year, didn’t you?)

So here are some things you need to do to bank that writers’ fire so it will burn brightly next month.

Check your stock of printer cartridges, computer paper, pens. While you’re out buying those last-minute stocking stuffers, stop by the office supply store and lay in a stock so you’ll have a drawer of fresh supplies waiting for you after the holidays.

Buy yourself a really nice card; making yourself one is even better. Sit down for thirty minutes and write yourself a love letter. Pat yourself on the back for all the wonderful writing you did in 2011 and encourage all the wonderful writing you are going to do in 2012. Mail it to yourself on Christmas Eve.

If you don’t have one already, put a notebook and pen beside your bed. Write “For Later” at the top of a clean page. If you get a wonderful idea over the holidays, jot it down. Get back to it after you’ve had a rest.

Make a writing date for January. Take a course or invite your writing buddies to lunch. There’s nothing like group energy to give you a push to get started again.

Finally, clean your desk. Yes, really. Neaten. Sort. Tidy. File. Dust. Maybe even get out some nice-smelling furniture polish and give it a once over. Sharpen your pencils. And then put a sheet over the whole thing, walk away, and turn out the desk light.

See you in a couple of weeks.

-------
Quote for the week
Don't underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering. ~Pooh's Little Instruction Book, inspired by A.A. Milne

7 comments:

Elizabeth Zelvin said...

Great checklist, Sharon. Let's see...I just ordered a case of copy paper from Staples, and I'm doing my semiannual dusting today, just in case the holiday company arrives wearing white gloves. ;)

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Sharon,

Very good advice!

Jacqueline Seewald
THE TRUTH SLEUTH, Five Star/Gale

Sheila Connolly said...

But, but... I just pushed edits for my August book out the door yesterday, but the book that's due 2/12 is demanding to be heard, and there's this short story that's been kicking around in the back of my head, and...

I agree with the need for down time, recharging the batteries, etc. The desk certainly needs clearing. But as long as the process of writing is joyful, I don't want to stop.

Sandra Parshall said...

I'm afraid if I stop, I'll never get the current wip done on time. I'll take Christmas off, but every other day is a workday.

Sharon Wildwind said...

Okay, gals, I have a list just as long. We are in serious need of some group therapy, and possibly some group chocolate.

The is the HOLIDAY season!

What a ruthless world we live in. Sigh.

Marilyn Levinson said...

Sharon,
I'm trying to take your advice, but it feels strange not writing. Of course, there's always January and all those commitments waiting in the wings. And clearing off my desks is a very good idea.
Happy Holidays!

Leslie Budewitz said...

Sharon, I completely agree with you
on the need to clear mental and physical space and recharge ourselves for writing. How I'm doing it is by taking a week away from the day job -- so I can write without feeling like I'm cramming it in between this brief and that summary and this other project. To me, that's heaven. Of course, in the evenings, I'll sit by the fire with my hunny, the cat, and the cast of characters in my head.

And as Sheila says, there is this little matter of the deadline!

I love your idea of mailing my writer self a letter -- a great addition to the ritual of reviewing last year's goal list and creating next year's.

Wishing you all a lovely season!