Three Tips to Keep Writing During the Holidays (and a COMPEL Challenge and giveaways!)
by Tracie Miles
Happy Thanksgiving from COMPEL Training!
Can you believe the holidays are already upon us? It’s amazing how fast a year goes by!
If there’s one thing I know about the holiday season, it’s how easy it is to let our writing slip to the back burner. Even if we have every intention of jumping back into writing once the new year rolls around, either life keeps getting in the way or we feel out of practice and have no motivation to start again. Neither of these scenarios help us move forward with our writing dreams!
Knowing the holidays were approaching and that there are challenges all throughout the year, our current seven week live course at COMPEL is titled “Overcoming the Challenges Every Writer Faces” where every week there is a lesson on overcoming a common writing challenge. If you are not a COMPEL member, CLICK HERE to find out more about this course and consider joining COMPEL today to access all the teachings!
Below are three tips for pushing through with writing until year end. And be sure to check out our last 2018 COMPEL Training Challenge at the bottom of this post! Prizes galore!
1. DEVELOP SELF-DISCIPLINE
The holidays bring on lots of new responsibilities and obligations, like shopping, decorating, cooking, and entertaining. We typically stick to our commitments for holiday duties, but what about our commitment to write? Make your writing a priority this holiday season, even if you can only squeeze in fifteen minutes a day. Develop a specific routine for when you will write and put it on your calendar, then be sure to keep those appointments. If you’ve worked hard all year, don’t let the holidays derail your efforts!
2. WRITE ABOUT WHAT YOU SEE AND EXPERIENCE
This season of the year is packed full of new sights, sounds, smells, emotions and experiences. We think we won’t forget the details of life or holiday memories but the reality is that we all do! What brings our writing to life is showing, not telling, and that requires including details about what we are living out. Using the routine you’ve set for yourself, take time each day to write something about what you experienced or felt that day. Without worrying about grammar or punctuation, journal about your experiences throughout the holidays. Include all the big and little details, feelings and thoughts, sights and sounds. This is material you can use in future writing projects.
3. CRITIQUE OTHER PEOPLE’S WRITING
It can be challenging to come up with ideas to write about, especially during the holidays. On those days when it seems writer’s block has set in, do a google search for a topic that interests you. Click on several links to read articles or blog posts. As you read, think about what it is about the author’s writing style that was good or bad; what drew you in or caused you to lose interest? Was the writer telling you a story or showing you a story that made you feel like you were present. Consider writing up your thoughts about each piece, and once life settles down, use your reviews to critique your own writing styles and improve your craft.
Now for the challenge!
Leave a comment on the blog post about what your biggest writing challenge is during the holiday season or in general and what you will do to keep it from becoming a stumbling block going forward. Five winners will be randomly selected from all of the comments and receive some great resources to kick off the new year!
The giveaways include:
- Enough: Silencing the Lies That Steal Your Confidence, by Sharon Jaynes
- Seamless: Understanding the Bible as One Complete Story (bible study), by Angie Smith
- Thy Will Be Done: A Six-Week Devotional, a Proverbs 31 publication (multiple authors)
- Make Your Move: Finding Unshakable Confidence Despite Your Fears and Failures (book plus 6-week DVD teaching series), by Lynn Cowell
- Beautiful Leather Writing Journal
Please note: Everyone is encouraged to share their challenges in the comments! However only COMPEL Training members are eligible to win giveaways To join COMPEL or learn more about all the writing training courses that COMPEL offers, click here.
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During the holidays and some weekends it’s harder to stay the course and journal my heart; Nevertheless, I plan to stick to my normal schedule as I find maintaining a consistent routine for my quiet time works best. The weekends and holidays allow us to venture from the beaten path which causes the day to take us by storm and before you know it time has lapsed and we are off to the race of life. I’ve purposed in my heart to rise early and spend my time being refreshed by my Father as I spend time in His word. . . my journaling becomes easy and I’m in tuned to His voice as He in turn speaks to my heart. Whether through song or a passage, I’m compelled to maintain the connection . . .for journaling cleanses my soul.
My biggest challenge is giving myself grace. I tend to be goal-oriented and prioritize to-do lists over people. This year I am planning to write and schedule blog posts so I can take a week off around Christmas and spend time with out of town family. I like Tracy’s idea of journaling each morning for 15 minutes. I think that will help me stay in the habit and transition back into writing after the holidays.
I share one of the challenges mentioned below and that is not following a structured writing schedule. I also write more along the lines of when I feel up to it or think I have time instead of scheduling time on a regular basis. My goal now is to do that very simple basic write something everyday. I have a blog and will start (again) by simply making sure I honor my goal of a weekly post. I have a full time job, but it is still doable if I set a reasonable goal and stick to it.
My biggest challenge is carving out time after setting the writing aside for a couple days because the holiday schedule doesn’t allow time. What am I doing to overcome the stumbling block? I’ve asked God to give me peace in the midst of the chaos, realizing that all will get done one way or another. Putting this call from God as an option instead of a priority is not where He wants me to be. I’m loosening my grasp on perfection and keeping a notebook with me so I can write whenever I have those in between moments.
My biggest challenge around the holidays is discipline. With our calendar filling up with so many gatherings (why do we squeeze it all into one month!?), I need to adjust when I will be writing and put it on the calendar…and stick to it!
I find my biggest challenge is keeping intentional while I travel. I love the ideas of writing about what I see and experience specifically because I know how rich the holidays tend to be for writing ideas. I recently bought a weekly calendar with no dates that I intend on using for jotting at least one thing each day that stands out and expounding on it when I find more time to myself once I return home from travel.
My problem? Self-discipline! I get distracted: move the clothes to the dryer, check my emails, take the dog out, order printer cartridges, add to my grocery list, get those books back to the library, It doesn’t take much. Good intentions detoured.
My biggest challenge is creating the space and time to work on my writing. Sometimes it’s difficult to remain committed and motivated. Just like exercising, once I get going I am so thankful that I took that time for myself. Although this is one of my new year resolutions, I don’t want to wait until the new year to get started. Thank you for the tips to keep writing this holiday season!
My biggest writing challenge this Holiday season is the same challenge I’ve faced all year. I don’t suffer from writer’s block, or an unwillingness to put in the work. My problem is my ideas are too frequent, too disorganized and bump and rattle in my brain vying for my attention, begging to be written first. As all these ideas duke it out for my attention, they scratch and claw at each other, so that when one finally does emerge victorious, it’s not the beautiful idea it promised to be. It’s a beaten up shard of what it once was before the battle of the Topics began, and it causes me to doubt if I have any talent at all. Me? A writer? What was I thinking? So to re-spark my creativity, I curl up with one of my favorite writer’s books, and I’m blown away by their concise writing, and perfectly edited work, which only confirms to me that when I heard God calling me to write, I probably over-heard Him speaking to someone else. If I could learn to organize my thoughts, take up where I left off (When life inevitably calls me away mid-thought), and hold off on judging my work and editing it until after the first draft is finished, I might be able to write something.
My biggest challenge is staying focused. Even as I type, I got on my computer to finish a writing deadline project for a magazine and I find myself checking emails and shopping online sales for Christmas. 🙂 . I am going to get around this challenge by removing distractions (like phone and internet)!
I face challenges to my writing everyday. Working outside the home in a medical practice means long days, especially during the holiday season. The logical conclusion to the question would be a lack of time, especially during the holidays when more of my time is spent with the issuant hustle and bustle. But my real struggle is much deeper than the lack of available writing moments in days prior to Christmas. My biggest struggle still lies within myself. Hidden deeply under all my lists of gifts to buy, events to attend, finances to budget, and meals to prepare lies the deeper feeling of self- doubt. Am I capable of this? Is my message one that anyone cares to read about? Am I qualified to pen these words of hope? And while I press on and continue to write, self-.doubt beckons me to procrastinate, to stay busy elsewhere, to do something that boosts my self-confidence, that makes me feel worthy and qualified. A lack of time or lack of focus are not the areas I struggle with the most. But learning to press on and keep doing what the Lord has called me to is worthy of the struggle going on inside my own head as it teaches me to trust in the Lord and the work he is doing in me and through me.
My biggest challenge is confidence. The thinking I am not smart enough, good enough, etc. stops me before I even start. I wonder “how do I know I am called to write. Maybe it is a selfish desire and nit God”. I am constantly thinking if ideas but That is really as far as I get.
I believe one of the reasons I don’t write every day, is questioning God’s request “to help His girls” through writing. I thought I knew how and when that didn’t form, I became doubtful. After reading this blog I was encouraged to keep trying. One way is to continue the word studies. I was having trouble visioning and settings goals until I looked up “curiosity;” eager to learn. So that is how I’m praying; asking the Holy Spirit to pique my interest and learn what and how God wants me to write. Then write daily, for there is always something new to learn.
My biggest barrier to write is balancing time as a stay at home mom and time to write. It seems there’s always too much to do and not enough time to do it. I balance it by taking some time to write at coffee shops some evenings when my husband watches the kids if they were extra needy!
My biggest challenge is my negative self-talk, the voice in my head that says, “You have nothing new to share; it’s all been said before—and WAY better than you can do it. “
My plan to overcome it is to be faithful with my writing, allowing a place for imperfection. Dedicated writing time without a critical spirit.
I like the idea and the practice of writing. It helps me sort out my thoughts and make sense of my inner world. The tactile process of putting pen to paper to express myself is comforting and fulfilling. I feel a sense of accomplishment when I have articulated a truth well after wading through to find the right words. You would think this would be motivate me to write more frequently and without hesitation, but time and life have a way of wearing me down and causing me to forget the benefits. For me, the problem comes at initiating the process; once I get started, the words flow. I can then spend a long time lost in my writing world at the expense of other things that need to get done. This is probably why I hesitate to start, to begin with. For the holiday season I plan on writing two to three times a week about current experiences that have to do with the season. It is my hope that in keeping the topic focused and the expectation manageable, I will find it less overwhelming and more successful.
My greatest challenge (as an Enneagram 2) during the holidays is setting aside time at home to write. I love investing in others, giving back and being intentional with all my relationships during this season. Every year I avoid the chaos trap by focusing on the true reason we celebrate, but I still struggle with finding writing windows.
It is easy to use the kids as an excuse during the holidays. They require more time, we have to get outside, they are too noisy, they are only young for a limited time. Moving past all my excuses and making the commitment to my writing will be a challenge. First, I have to let go of the need to compose at a computer. Many years ago my father insisted I learn to compose at the typewriter (yes, a manual one at that). Why write it out and then have to type it all again? To keep writing I will take my notebook and pen to the playground or where ever we end up. To be flexible and consistent.
My biggest struggle has become space. I have enough space, but I have accumulated a lot of “stuff”. It drives me crazy to have my writing space out of order or in total chaos! My goal is to clean it up so I can get back to writing more consistently and take that momentum into the new year. I need bookshelves! 🙂
My biggest writing challenge is time and motivation to sit and focus. What I plan to do to keep it from becoming a stumbling block is to make and keep a schedule. I have also planned some ways to stir up my creativity. such as listening to music, story cubes, and braindumps (unloading all my ideas onto paper). I’m praying and moving forward. 🙂