The holidays are over and the new year has begun. Exciting, right? Absolutely! But it's okay if it's exciting and scary. For me, the new year comes with big goals for my writing, but I've found over the past few years that I struggle to get back into the groove of things after the holiday season ends.
So, let's talk about that struggle. Think about this: you've spent weeks on end planning and prepping for those big holiday dinners, making sure everyone has the perfect gift, and calling all those family members you haven't seen in a while to check in. It's been fun and you loved all the extra time with your loved ones, but if you're anything like me then you might not have had all the time in the world to write or work on your author business.
That's okay! Family is important and so is your mental health. If you needed to take a break in order to survive the end of 2020, no one would blame you, but especially not me.
I'll admit that I didn't get much writing done in the last month of the year. I tried to do a little something every day, but in the end, December was nowhere near as productive as I'd originally expected it would be. However, that makes me even more determined to start January out on the right foot.
Below you will find a few things that help me refocus after the holidays. I hope that they might help you as well, and would love to hear what tips or tricks you have in the comments below.
Organize your workspace so it is free of distractions - As writers we often joke that organizing our office is a way of procrastination, but in this case it actually helps. Having a clutter-free space will allow you to work more productively. Another way you can limit distractions is to turn off your internet access while writing and put your phone in another room. I know, I know, it's difficult, but cutting out time for your writing without social media to tempt you is a game changer in this business.
Set a schedule for writing - I realize scheduling one's writing isn't for everyone, so I will not be offended if you skip this step. However, I will say that if you're struggling to write and you've never tried scheduling time for your writing then you should at least give it a try. You never know, it might actually work for out for you! Personally, what works for me is getting up at 5am each morning to write & post to social media. This is hours before my spouse wakes up and hours before I have to work at my day job. I am able to be more productive by allowing myself a few hours of focus. Obviously, my 5am schedule went out the window during the holidays, but now that the new year has started I'm starting it up again.
Read a book from your genre - I'm sure I'm not the first author to tell you that you must read in order to be a successful writer, right? If I am, then I will say it one more time: you must read in order to be a successful writer. That being said, if you're stuck writing after the holidays, or even just in a general writing funk, I highly recommend picking up a book from your genre and just allowing yourself to enjoy the story! Remind yourself exactly why you started writing in the first place and you'll be surprised what happens when you turn that last page.
Plan what you're going to write - Again, I realize some of you are probably cringing right now, but this blog is about helping you get out of a funk so bear with me. Planning can be tedious and draining on your creativity, especially if you're a panther, but that doesn't mean you should throw the idea out the window. Planning varies from the simplest outline to a full on chapter by chapter breakdown of your novel. You can choose. Personally, I don't like to plan too much of my novel in advance, but what I will do is jot down some general ideas, thoughts, and timelines, that might help. I also find that when I'm stuck, I can set a 10-15 minute timer on my phone (or an old fashioned kitchen timer if you're putting your phone in another room) and just write whatever comes to my mind in whatever format works for me in that moment (outline, paragraph, mind map, you decide!) It may not be the best thing I've ever written, in fact it's very likely not the best thing I've ever written, but the point is that I wrote something. Often those 10-15 minutes that I took to outline or brainstorm what I want to write will get my creativity flowing.
Find an accountability partner - An accountability partner is someone who you trust to remind you to write every day (or whatever schedule you are deciding to write). It's best for them to be another writer, because let's face it, only writers can really relate to what you're struggling with at the moment. Once you have someone keeping you accountable, you're a lot less likely to slack off. Plus, you can keep them accountable as well!
Even if you've heard these tips before, I hope you are able to take some motivation away from this today. We may be strangers, or we may be friends, but either way I believe in you. I believe you can write your story. Being a writer or an author isn't easy, but that's why we have a community of support around us. If you're still searching for that community and more tips like this, I recommend you check out the hashtag #TheWriterCommunity on Instagram. There you can connect with other writers & authors who are facing similar struggles to this one.
Happy New Year!