Come play inside a writer's brain, scary!

It’s not only First Monday time again, when I open this blog to your questions about writing and publishing, it’s also the holiday season for people of many beliefs around the world. Someone posted on Facebook that this is the only time Chanukah and American Thanksgiving fell at the same time for 80,000 years. My math isn’t that great, but it is unusual. Hope you all have a wonderful time.
This is also the season for gift giving. I love giving presents (don’t mind receiving them, either LOL) and I enjoy hunting for items I hope will delight my friends and family. As a writer, I love gifts, too. But there are five items I would NEVER give myself and I hope you won’t, too.

1. Long breaks from writing
Yes, it’s holidays and you’ve worked hard all year. Maybe you did NaNoWriMo and managed to write your target 50,000 words in a month. Don’t you deserve some down time? Of course, but be careful. The point of NaNo is to get you writing every day, inspired or not, with a deadline you usually report to other NaNo-ers, keeping yourself accountable. A funny thing about writing regularly is the momentum and confidence you build up. If I don’t write for a few days, I come back rusty, taking time to get up to speed. I also lose touch with my current project and have to get back into that groove as well. Keep in touch with the work. Aim to write 200 words a day, taking the important holidays off. That’s only one page of writing a day. You’ll thank yourself after the break.
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2. Ignore health and wellbeing

It’s easy to do this anyway, with all the parties and feasting. But as well as the damage to your healthy eating plans, food comas befuddle your brain, the organ generating those precious words. Remember to alternate holiday cheer with lots of water, pudding with fruit, and couch time with swimming and walks. The outdoor stimulation may give you new story ideas, win-win.

3. Lack of time
Yes, the season is demanding and rushed. Shops are busy, crowds everywhere, calendars clogged. Giving ourselves the gift of time can be way down the list, if it’s there at all. On your crammed to-do list, include set times to write, or at least to play with story outlines and characters – this can be done on a lounger in the garden. After the holidays when, we’re still at home, is a terrific time to make progress. When the season ends, you’re raring to go because the thinking and planning is done.

4. Second-best equipment
So you’re writing at a wobbly table, sitting on a dining chair, killing your back and creativity. Even if your writing isn’t paying its way yet, think of good equipment as an investment. Use the holiday sales to buy yourself an ergonomic chair. Mine adjusts every which way with a pump gadget to adjust the lumbar support exactly right. Look for a hand-friendly mouse, jelly rest for your wrist, whatever helps you create safely. Your body will thank you. And keep the receipts. When your writing does make money, ask the tax pundits about what you may be entitled to claim back.

5. Giving up on dreams
This is 100% not a gift you should give yourself, ever. In the early days, your self belief is the only thing keeping you going. It takes enough of a battering with rejections from editors or agents, or well-meaning but tough comments from critique partners and writing groups. ALL of the writers who are now legends were once told they couldn’t write, their books didn’t work, they should stick to (insert thankless day job). They persevered and gave us our greatest reading pleasures. They didn’t know they were writing classics, any more than you or I know that now. History is the judge. All we can do is write the best books in us to write, follow our passions even if they’re not trendy, and keep going no matter what the rest of the world says. Best of all, dreams are free. Hold on to them.

What gift would you NEVER give yourself as a writer? Have you come close with any of these? Please share your experiences with us in the comment box below. I regret they must be moderated before appearing, to keep out rudeness and Spam. To have your comment appear right away, click on “sign me up” at lower right. I don’t share your email details with anyone.

Happy holidays and may your words flow freely,
Valerie
http://www.valerieparv.com

on Twitter @ValerieParv and Facebook

Read some reviews of Valerie’s latest book, Birthright
at http://www.valerieparv.com/birthright.html

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Comments on: "Christmas gifts smart writers NEVER give themselves" (4)

  1. I’ve done (and still do some) of all of these. I have carpal tunnel from working at an executive desk instead of one designed for a computer and using the wrong kind of mouse. I do, finally, have a good chair though. I sometimes let family steal my writing time, and I’m the world’s worst at not taking care of myself. I gave up my dream for 7 years, and even recently considered doing so again. Writing can be a thankless business sometimes.

    • It’s progress knowing you’ve done these things, and I hope will be able to make a few changes in the New Year. The good chair is a great start. Only you can write your books.

  2. That was cute about Chanukah and American Thanksgiving falling on the same day the first time in 80,000 years, especially since the first (official, New England claims it, although Virginia celebrated it or something like it in 1607 or 8) Thanksgiving was in 1621 (or 23, when it was made a Colony holy day by Governor Bradford), and the first Chanukah would have been something like 2400 years ago… 😀

    I think one gift I’d never give myself or another author is anything distracting… anything that would take away time that could better be used writing. I gave myself the gift a few years ago, along about Easter/Passover, of quitting social computer games. Sure, I loved my little computer farm, but I needed more time to write. Coincidence that I finally was able to make the changes needed to the book that ended up being contracted and sold to Harlequin? I don’t think so! Yes, the games were relaxing, but writing is better. I don’t need a herd of cyber cattle to make me happy any more! 🙂

    Thanks for another great First Monday mentoring!

    • Thanks Marion, as I said my math is very unreliable, but even I suspected that was a stretch. Maybe they’re counting in goldfish years. I love that you found your writing to be a better outlet than a virtual farm game. Couldn’t agree more. And you got published by Harlequin into the bargain – congratulations.

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