Saturday, December 13, 2014

8 Ways to Manage Your Writing Career & Holiday Stress

The holidays bring about a mixed feeling of joy, excitement and sadly stress. Family celebrations, holiday parties, decorations, baking, gift-buying and mailing and wrapping, fighting long lines at the malls, add to our normal busy schedules and writers have to be more creative to stay on schedule or adapt.


Career writers are hard-working and put in long hours and the holidays can make it more difficult the keep up their busy pace. Many writers have a day job and have to juggle a second career and family life which adds to the stress this time of year. The Holidays should be a time of joy, peace on earth, kindness and giving, sharing special times with loved ones, not added stress or an obstacle to getting their next project completed on time.

My uncle recently gave me a wise piece of advice: Take time to enjoy the season. The older you get, the faster they go by.

 These tips may be helpful to writers now and throughout the year.

Turn this:

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1.           Take time to enjoy the season (and life), even if you have to schedule it. Children grow up fast and move on to their own lives, parents, relatives and friends grow old and leave us much too soon. If you’re constantly worried about that current WIP, your ratings, your royalties, marketing plans, ads, the next project, a crappy review, no reviews, etc., how can you fully enjoy the people and celebrations going on around you?

2.           Schedule deadlines months in advance. Deadlines are important for a successful career. If you work a 9-5, your boss expects you to complete projects on time. Writers are their own boss, they may have a deadline with a publisher, or an established indie deadline. Plan ahead for a lower productivity level during holiday seasons and vacations and you won’t be so stressed out. If you haven’t scheduled your workload in advance, then start now for the upcoming months.

3.           Make a list and check it twice. Organized writers can accomplish more with less stress. The night before or every morning, make a To-do List. I write lists on a notepad because when I’m at work, I don’t have Internet conductivity to use phone aps like Evernote. I also use a calendar. I recently bought an erasable 15 month wall calendar that I can record on and see my schedule for the year at a glance. I post deadlines for all my projects, planned ads, FB parties, conferences, online events, release dates.

4.           Exercise. Yes, exercise! I hear the groans out there. With so many things going on, where do you have time to exercise? You have time to take a brisk walk or 30 minutes at the gym or a short exercise video at home. Yoga is great too. Exercise is the perfect de-stresser. It helps to release endorphins in the brain which are feel-good transmitters. Many people suffer from depression around the holidays for many reasons. Exercise may help. Exercise also bumps up the metabolism to help burn off all those Christmas cookies and holiday dinners.

5.           Keep your desk organized. Ha, this can be a tough one. I find myself working on several projects at once. Right now, I’m editing a completed paranormal novel, writing a romantic suspense novella/short novel, and planning for the release of a three-book shapeshifter funnel early next year (need to revise one, and write one novella). I’m also promoting a new release, Write to Success that was coauthored with eight NY Times & USA Today bestselling authors. Since I keep notes for each project, I have a colored file for each, so I have easy access. I like to edit the final draft on hardcopy. I plan to start using Scrivener to keep the notes and outlines in one place. But I will always do final edits on hard copy. I also like to do some preliminary brainstorming/outlining on paper away from the computer. Just my process. Find what works best for you.

6.           Make a Stop-Doing List. There are only so many things you can get accomplished in one 24-hour day. See what you can STOP DOING. I started cutting back on things that weren’t progressing my writing career. I cut way back on checking email (I skim the important ones, respond and delete.) And I always respond to readers. I was posting a lot of author friends’ new releases on my blog and sadly had to cut back on that too. I was getting requests 3-4x a week (I have very prolific author friends.:)) I was also getting requests from people I didn’t know with requests to post blogs and for reviews. I still want to help promote my friends on my blog, but I have to come up with a more time efficient way to do it.

7.           Mindful Eating Choices. Aka Eat Healthy. Eating healthy during the holidays may seem an impossible task. I know, my husband’s family is Polish and I have to look forward to a Christmas Eve dinner of Kielbasa, ham and pierogies. AKA! For someone whose diet consists of a decent amount of salads and protein shakes, all that fat and calories make me cringe. Christmas cookies, holiday baked goods, parties, dinners, eggnog with Baileys, alcohol, etc. High calorie foods will pack on the pounds and make you tired. Decreasing your productivity when you can fit in the time to write.
Short on time? Try a quick protein or veggie smoothie for breakfast and/or lunch and drink lots and lots of water to keep you hydrated.
Try these in a blender or Bullet: Veggie shake: kale, spinach, piece of apple, pineapple, avocado or banana, lemon, ginger, cinnamon and coconut water and ice. 
Protein shake: A scoop of your favorite protein powder (Shakeology, PGX, or something with Whey or hemp protein, no sugar), a handful of frozen or fresh mixed berries, unsweetened almond milk, unsweetened coconut milk, cold water and ice.

8.           Watch a holiday movie. Aka relax and get enough rest. Holiday movies are a great time to relax and spend time with loved ones. It’s a good way to de-stress and enjoy the season. It’s over so quickly and you’ll be back to your ‘normal’ routine. Some of my favorites: Love Actually, White Christmas and any of the Christmas Carole movies. What are your favorites?
Christmas lights at our house
Holiday traditions: Please share a holiday tradition here or one of your favorite movies. I’ll pick a random name from the list and they can select a choice of (Red Tape, Burned Deep or Nightlord Lover) Want to keep up to day news and contests? Sign up for my newsletter.

My Christmas tradition: Eve of Christmas Eve dinner with my husband. Since I started dating my husband fifteen years ago we began this tradition. With the demands of the holidays, family, work, shopping, etc., I wanted some time for us to enjoy the holidays, just us two. I started a similar tradition when I lived in Florida. I was single for many years and decided I would treat myself to a nice dinner out on Christmas Eve since I didn’t have any family living close by. I invited anyone who was in the same situation, if they wanted to join me. Sometimes people don’t have a place to visit on the holidays and they don’t want to intrude on their friends’ families. Occasionally I would have friends join me, but many times I would get dressed up and go out alone. Since my husband has his family dinner on Christmas Eve, we have our special night out on the Eve of Christmas Eve. We pick a nice restaurant and get dressed up. A nice way to slow down and enjoy the season. Do you have a special tradition to share? Post a comment for a chance to win a book!

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