Blogger: Mary Keeley
Christmas ads and commercials launched in earnest this past weekend. Already an alert sounded in my brain, and I could sense my anxiety level increasing. So many family traditions to prepare for, baking to be done, and festive gatherings filling the calendar on top of keeping up with the work I love. Surely it’s the same for you. Now is the time to take a timeout to create a plan for the holidays and at the same time prepare for an excellent launch into 2014.
My goal each year is to get the shopping for gift giving out of the way early so I can focus on the reason for the season of Thanks-giving and celebration of Christ’s birth. But there remains a multitude of meaningful things to get done. Let’s face it, we can’t do it all and do it well. Unless you are under a contractual deadline, give yourself permission to reduce your daily writing goals or set your manuscript aside as needed. It’s hard to do your best writing when important distractions are stomping around in the back of your mind.
Nevertheless, there are things you can do that don’t require the time and level of concentration you need for writing. Things that will help you to stay connected to the industry. Some of them you may have put off in favor of meeting your daily word count but are necessary for a well-organized, productive start in January. Here is my list of suggestions. Add to the list items that have helped you to prepare for when you get back to your writing life after the holidays.
Do online research for your book. Unless you’re spending the holidays in the setting of your novel, your opportunities for research will be limited. But you can use minutes here and there to research the little details that have been put aside.
Read industry and writer blogs. Bloggers may also be taking a break or re-posting older blogs, but you still can glean something from them and feel connected.
Visit publisher websites to view their list of books. You’ve probably made these visits many times, but when you aren’t in your writing mode, you might see a trend you hadn’t noticed before. Or you might find a new possibility for the comparable titles list in your proposal.
Visit agency websites to make a list of their submission guidelines. If you aren’t yet agented, this is a great time to explore agency websites in your leisure moments. Each agency has its own personality. Check back in the blog archives to get to know the agents. And record each agency’s submission guidelines for easy reference next year.
Organize your desk. I know that my clarity of mind is in direct proportion to the amount of clutter on my desk. Last year during my holiday break I organized my files, and I’ve managed to keep them orderly. During the year I switched to taking notes electronically through Evernote, which has also been a tremendous help in staying organized.
Read online book reviews on Goodreads and Library Thing. Enjoyable. Relaxing.
Check out books in your genre when you visit bookstores to purchase Christmas gifts. Is there any one of us who doesn’t love to browse a bookstore at this time of year?
Read part of a Classic or a best selling book in your genre during quiet moments. Don’t expect to finish it, but look for good craft technique and brilliant use of words.
Visit websites and blogs of social media experts to gather tips; practice some of them. Make quick views to pick up on tips you might want to use. Take notes or bookmark the link for further reading when you have time.
Set benchmarks for your work and reasonable goals for reaching them. Remember, it’s a more important goal to make your book the best it can be than to send it out by a self-determined date.
Catch up on sleep. Nuf said.
Family, friends, and above all, Christ, are precious gifts from God. They deserve the gift of you honoring them with your undistracted time during the holidays. Sometimes we just need someone to tell us it’s okay to take a break in order to be relieved of self-imposed guilt. So here it is. Amazing, too, is how beneficial this break can be for your book when you come back to it, rested, with fresh eyes, and prepared.
What have I missed? What end-of-year habits you have acquired that help you to prepare for a productive launch in the New Year?
Prepare for 2014 while you focus on the priorities of the approaching holidays. Click to Tweet.
No need to let the busyness of the holidays disconnect you from your writing life. Click to Tweet.
With planning, you can focus on the holidays and also prepare for an excellent return to writing in 2014. Click to Tweet.