The last few weeks of a year are often tough on us writers. Holiday and family obligations take us away from our writing, it's closing in on those end-of-year goals we promised we'd hit this year, and it's hard emotionally for many people for a myriad of reasons. It's a stressful time even if everything is going great.
Unless you're facing a deadline you have no control over, it's okay to take a breather and let writing wait in the back seat. It's okay to focus on yourself and your family for a few weeks and let those creative batteries refill. Heck, it's okay to be a little selfish and take some me-time to wind down.
I know it's easy to look at the calendar and stress over all the things we didn't accomplish this year, but for once, let's try to focus on the things we did:
- We figured out how to fix our plot.
- We got our website or blog set up.
- We joined a critique group.
- We said we'd start writing and we did.
- We met a goal we set for ourselves.
- We met a goal someone else imposed on us.
- We had really good writing days.
- We met a fantastic writer who inspired or helped us.
- We read an amazing book that fired us up.
I also know not everything was sunshine and roses this year, but let's look at the positives, even if the outcome wasn't what we hoped it would be. Don't focus on what didn't work out, but what did:
- We started that novel we kept saying we would (we hit a wall, sure, but we'll fix it)
- We finished that novel (so what if it hasn't sold yet, we did it).
- We sent that query (which took guts don't forget that part).
- We organized our writing space (it hasn't changed our word count yet, but it's a first step to productivity, and we will get there).
And let's not forget the important things we stopped doing:
- We stopped Googling ourselves and feeling crappy the whole rest of the day if we found a bad review.
- We stopped comparing ourselves to every other author who did better than we did.
- We stopped stressing over every single word that someone somewhere told us we shouldn't use.
- We stopped putting unrealistic expectations on ourselves.
- We stopped setting impossible goals and then feeling bad for not meeting them.
Writing can be a tough endeavor, and it's worse when we beat ourselves up about it. It helps to know that we all go through this, and even the biggest authors have (and still get) bad days when they feel like failures. But we also gave good days when writing is everything we imagined it could be.
Don't let the end of the year get you down. Take a break, focus on what matters and makes you happy for a few weeks, and get the rest you need to start the new year off right.
What did you accomplish this year that you're proud of? What words of wisdom, inspiration, or support would you give a writer pal going through a rough time right now?
Planning Your Novel: Ideas and Structure, a series of self-guided workshops that help you turn your idea into a novel. It's also a great guide for revisions!
Janice Hardy is the founder of Fiction University, and the author of the teen fantasy trilogy The Healing Wars, where she tapped into her own dark side to create a world where healing was dangerous, and those with the best intentions often made the worst choices. Her novels include The Shifter, (Picked as one of the 10 Books All Young Georgians Should Read, 2014) Blue Fire, and Darkfall from Balzer+Bray/Harper Collins. The first book in her Foundations of Fiction series, Planning Your Novel: Ideas and Structure is out now.
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