Recommended Reading for Writers – Taking Control

For those of you who enjoy a stroll through the Cow Pasture, sorry if my lack of presence has disappointed you. OR, maybe like me, you have been too busy with your hectic life and holiday schedules you didn’t realize I was missing. The point being, it’s okay. I understand.

From October through December is probably the busiest and fastest moving months of the year. They are also, often the most anxiety-producing, at least for this writer. Between family holiday get-togethers, cooking, shopping, gift wrapping, and all the other holiday festivities, it gets more difficult every year to manage time, stick to a writing schedule, or slow down enough to enjoy the moments.

Throw in a few family health crisis on top of the mix, and you have the recipe for neglect. Something has to give and more often than not, it’s writing – be it a blog, WIP, or networking via social media.

Of course, truth be told, I laid off most social media a long time ago. Not, because I don’t want to connect with you and other writers, I do; but, because it seems to have turned into more than a network. Instead of a way to network, it has become a platform for everyone to spout their opinion or a propaganda tool. I wrote about this topic once before in my article, Has Facebook Become Toxic? It’s all too much sometimes for this writer. I don’t want to belabor the point, but, suffice it to say, I don’t need the added anxiety.

As writers, I believe, we put more pressure on ourselves than most people, and it seems to escalate during this time of year. Who thought November would be the best time of the year to run a 50,000 word novel challenge. Yet, NaNoWriMo is one of the most popular challenges for writers. Even I jumped on the challenge bandwagon this Fall. I didn’t participate in NaNoWriMo, but I did take on the 10 K Social Writing Challenge through ChapterBuzz. I admit, my anxiety increased, substantially as I attempted to stay on track, I also made enormous progress on my novel, Hello Hell. We writers are a glutton for punishment sometimes.

Whether it’s a blog post, short story, or current WIP, it seems there is always another self-imposed deadline. Throw in this hectic time of year, other family crisis, the news, and the result is escalating anxiety.

Some things are beyond our control and those we must learn to accept as part of life, but we are not without resources and choices. Deciding what or who takes priority in our lives and how to manage it is up to us. Which brings me to one of the best articles I’ve read in a long time, Winning the Anxiety War by Piper Bayard, guest blogger for Writers in the Storm.

If increasing anxiety has invaded your world, especially this time of year, check out this article, Piper’s  take on the role of social media plays in our increasing anxiety, as well as her suggestions on how we can manage –  Three Elements of  Compartmentalization.

“Media Is A Battleground. Messages Are The Weapons. Our Anxiety Is The Prize. He Who Holds Our Anxieties, Holds Us.” Piper Bayard                                                         Click to Tweet

What about you? How do you manage all the demands on your time during these winter months? How do you glean the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, from social media, or have you, as I pushed it to the back burner?

I’d love to hear your comments. Talk to me. Tell me your story. I’m all ears and look for me on Facebook at SheilaMGood,  PinterestBloglovinTwitter@sheilamgood, Contently, and Instagram. You can follow my reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.

 

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Finding Time to Write in the Midst of Christmas Madness

How do you find time for writing when you’re knee deep in wrapping paper and eggnog? Not an easy task, I’ll admit, especially if you’ve added a bit of spice. Okay, I confess, I hate eggnog, even the spiced kind. I prefer wine  with my wrapping.

Between the middle of October and January 2nd, finding time dedicated, specifically, to write is like chasing ghosts on Halloween. Like the ghosts, time slips right through our fingers, especially during the Christmas season.

So, in the midst of the madness, here are my tips on how to find that elusive time to write.

  1. Change your expectations. This is a big one for me. Every time I think I’ve set aside time  to write, something or someone intervenes. It’s usually my retired husband, but that’s another topic.
  2. Keep a notebook or pad with you.  I find if I don’t write those sudden flashes of inspiration down when they come, they’re gone. Memory these days is as elusive as time. images-5
  3. Get up early. I’m an early riser. By the time 5:30 AM rolls around I’m up and having a cup of coffee. Those hours when, even,  the birds are still asleep are some of my most productive.
  4. Stay up late. Even 30 minutes makes a difference. The only problem I’ve found with the late hour, is staying up too long, but sometimes you have to follow the character.
  5. Plan ahead and make a to-do list. I’m talking about the Christmas menu, shopping, baking, wrapping, decorating and house chores. Making lists will help prioritize and free up spaces of time you can use to write. In addition, plan blog posts or other writing assignments ahead of time and schedule them to go out during the season. I’ve always relied on lists and at this time of year, having one is essential to my mental health.
  6. Think outside of the box. Instead of spending hours wrapping presents, have the store wrap them or do as I did. Buy decorative boxes and gift bags. They are beautiful and take a lot less time. IMG_1228
  7. Utilize short spurts of time.  At home I leave my laptop open to my current project and in between tasks, I write. I may only have  5 minutes or 30, but it’s surprising how many words one can  write in a short spurt of time.
  8. Give time to your family.  This may sound counterproductive, however, the Christmas season is a special time for families. It’s the one time of year, I think we should be willing to plan ahead, lay our pens down, extend our arms, and give full attention to our loved ones.

To all my readers and fellow bloggers, I wish for you, time to write, and a very Merry Christmas.

I’d love to hear your comments. Tell me your story. And as always, you can find me on Facebook at SheilaMGoodPinterestBloglovinContently, and Twitter@sheilagood. Say hello and pass it on.