Small Business: Writing Through The Holidays (Posted first at Ruby Slippered Sisterhood November 2016)
If you Google writing through the holidays, you’re going to find dozens of articles written on the subject, including a great one dated last December by our own Ruby Sister Addison Fox. Many authors offer the same advice, and I’m going to bring up the same points too later, because they’re good advice. However, today, and for your sanity and mine, I want to approach the subject a little differently.
If you look at my post title, you’ll note the first two words. Got them? Good. Unless you’re writing to stick your work in a drawer only to be found upon your demise by a nephew or niece who you didn’t hold close to your heart and who will probably either burn your bloodwork or see the wonder in it and use your work to start their own writing career, then you need to think of yourself as a small business owner. And as we all know small business owners have a lot to do during any holiday in order to remain competitive with the ‘Big boys, girls, sellers, box-stores or A’. You pick the noun. So let’s think of our self’s as small businesses during this holiday season and beyond.
The first thing every SB owner does every single day is take care of the foundation their business. You are the foundation of your business. You need to take care of you. You need to eat well, drink plenty of water, exercise (yes running through the mall counts), get the right amount of restful sleep that is good for you and most importantly don’t add stress on yourself. How can do you do that during the most stressful time of the year? Please, read on.images6
I’m going to throw some keywords at you; the first already was tossed, care. The second is flexibility. Writers are creatures of habit. But remember we’re also small business owners. As a business person you need to be flexible every single day. Every single minute of every single day. The world is ever changing and it affects you and your business constantly. If you go into this holiday by setting non flexible goals (More on this later) and your kids get sick, or the car breaks down, or your boss at your ‘real job’ demands that you get a new must-have report done by Christmas Eve, you will be adding a ton of stress on yourself. Setting a non-flex goal in the month of November is one of the reasons I’ve never done Nano. Stress, leads to guilt, which leads to depression. We don’t want to go there. Flexible is a key word.
Don’t try to do a 360° turn with your writing habits in the eleventh hour, trying to accomplish what you haven’t done already. It doesn’t work. Change of habits needs to be done over time, and there is no time of year when our desire to change is greater than right now. Plan your change.
Realization is the next key word. If you had a goal to have a project done by December 31 and you haven’t put the effort into it by now, well, that boat has sailed. Small business owners think months ahead, even years. Because the calendar will flip and your project isn’t done doesn’t mean the world is going to end. It means you will complete it in 2017 with the enthusiasm and the focus that it deserves. Flexible.
Now, I want to prove something to you. During this busy holiday season, you can accomplish a lot of things that benefit your small business by following my advice below.
images1If you write for publication, there is so much that needs to be done, whether you’re an indie author or a traditional pubbed author or a freelance writer. Grab a calendar; one that has the month in blocks. During the day or at the end of every single day, write down what you did relating to your business. I do this every day. It’s my record for the IRS that I am working my business. Here are examples of things I might get done any given day. Email, social media, word count achieved, number of pages edited, articles or blogs written, articles or blogs posted and or commented on, ad copy worked on, design ads, place ads, worked on a plot, talk or meet with critique partners, agent or editor. Trips to office supply store or post office. Time spent researching. Time spent reading craft books or industry blogs (like the Ruby Sisterhood). Write everything down. Now, look at what you have accomplished. How can there be guilt?
If you’re like me, you can’t take days off during a project. Maybe a day or two, but weeks? No. I need to stay grounded in my project. Does that mean I need to write fresh pages every day? No it does not. Simply writing a page a day, or editing a scene or layering a character will keep your muse alive and you’ll be working toward the end of a polished wip.
Here are the little tidbits of advice I mentioned at the top of this blog. The ones that will help you move forward during the busiest of times.
1.Set the goal of I will work my business every day. Notice I didn’t say write every day. Be flexible.
2.Write first (get up early), write last (after everyone else has gone to bed), or in between with a notebook if need be.
3.Set a timer for twenty minutes and write nonstop.
4.I sit my laptop on my kitchen counter while cooking dinner and I try to get an extra page written or edited before the meal is ready to plate. In fact, I write, standing more and more. I find walking around helps me think in between lines.
5.Join an on-line group and sprint. On Twitter, I think, you can always find someone to sprint with by using a specific hashtag. I think it’s #1k1hr. If anyone knows for sure, please place in comments. (And remember the Rubies Winter Writing Fest Begins mid-January. Very productive and tons of fun!)
6.Not working on story at the moment? Just be creative. Write a blog, article, poem, or short story. Hey, those writings can come in handy later for to use as promo when you’re on deadline.
7.If it’s hard to write at home, get away. Pack a Go-bag now (pen, pencils, notebook, snacks, bottled water, and a little cash) and store the bag in your car. Anytime you slip out the door to run an errand take a few minutes to yourself while gone and write. Heck you could say you’re going to the garage to clean out the car and just sit in your car and write.
8.Take a walk and dictate a scene. (Just get out of your comfort zone and use a different method to producing words)
9.Too noisy with all the kids at home, invest in earplugs. Listening to an audiobook is also work.
10.Set up a mini-writing retreat with some writer friends for an afternoon, but be prepared to give your spouse some alone time too.
11.Journal. The end of the year is all about change. People watch. Note changes in people and how they interact with others as the month ends.
12.This is the season that your senses can go on overload. There are so many sights, sounds, and scents to take in. And the food and drinks. And the feel of the weather, the gifts and the hugs. Ruby Anne Marie brought up in her recent blog how hugs can be different. Made me think. Take note for future works.
By not letting our passion take a second chair to non-essential chores, we’ll feel less anxious, more balanced, and much happier. Start 2017 positive by taking care of you and your small business now.
If you have words of advice on writing through the holidays, please share. What works for you might work for someone else.
Autumn Jordon is an award-winning, sneaker wearing Ruby. She is the author of seven published novels, including a fun, contemporary holiday romance titled Perfect.
The holidays are never perfect. However, what happens during the holidays can inspire a perfect love. Christmas romance at its best! Amazon Reviewers