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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November 22, 2022
Stopping the Overwhelm is my biggest writing challenge!
Those feelings that rise up when I sit down to jot down my To-Do List. The marketing to-dos, keeping up with social media posts, utilising all those many, many …many courses that I have paid for but haven’t quite finished (or even started!) , the publishing to-dos, the weekly email newsletter, the guest posting and the list goes on and on and on. Oh, and the actual research and writing of books (the yummist part!). Anyone relate?
My biggest challenge that keeps me from writing during the holidays (and in general) is simply making the time. Busy moms know that we have a never ending list of to-dos, and when we finally crawl into bed at night, that’s when we usually realize we’ve missed something very important! I want to make the time for what is most important, for what God calls me to do, which includes writing! I need to carve out specific time in the day for spending with God and writing. I need to make it a priority and keeping that special time as if it were an appointment. Easier said than done, but it’s too important to let slip away. ♥️
The pain of criticism leading to questioning my value as a writer is my biggest challenge. It stops me dead in my tracks every single time. My soul cries out, “Lord, how can this be what you want for me? They don’t see value in my work. Surely, this isn’t what You had in mind when You called me to be a writer.” I feel a sense of loss –somehow my words have failed. I feel empty –my words are meaningless. It is incredibly painful to hear someone say they don’t like what you have written.
On more than one occasion, I’ve wanted to put my pen down and run the other way. It takes courage to see criticism as a necessary element of writing and a process to breakthrough the cycle of discouragement that it can leave in its wake. Yes, I wallow and I whine and then I ask myself a series of questions that always bring me back to center. What else would I do? Is the criticism aimed at me (because they don’t like me) or at what I’ve written (can I do better)? Are they asking me to rewrite everything or simply take a second look to see if I can add, delete, or polish my work so it can shine brighter? Reframing my mindset from one of pure rejection to taking a thoughtful approach to wordsmithing what I’ve already written has helped keep this stumbling block from becoming a brick wall. ~ts
Great Post! My biggest challenge is staying focused during this time of year. I love Christmas and I love to write in my journal, but I don’t get much productive writing done.
My biggest challenge to continued writing in the long transition from public relations pieces to passionate purposes is the consistency that comes from seeing writing first as an act of worship and obedience; fulfilling my calling to know Him and to make Him known.
So unlike my corporate experience, much of the time, I’m writing in seclusion with little in-person input and no definite deadlines. Efforts to draw friends and family into the process often lag and lapse; typically, no one has time.
So it’s easy to wonder who really cares whether or not I write; what difference does it make? It’s too easy to let jobs that produce obvious results mean more and take more.
A secondary challenge is managing my tendency to make everything bigger, harder and heavier than necessary with ridiculous expectations for myself.
So I intend to make a humble offering of 500 words on a page every day–first thing whenever possible–and designate 8 to 10 a.m. Saturday for editing.
I pray for the persistence and perspective to give God my best and trust Him for the rest.
I’ve propped on my desk a reminder that this writing comes from Christ in me; it’s not all about me or all up to me.
My biggest writing challenges come from my seeming inability to journal on a daily basis, and finishing the den where I usually write. We’ve been remodeling and the den has been the catch all room. It’s so cluttered I can’t begin to think in there.
I used to journal everyday and now, quite frankly, I struggle. I went through a 3 year period where I couldn’t journal at all, and I haven’t been able to get back in the swing of it. My mind seemed to stay clearer when I did the data dump at the end of every day. Now with all the bottled up extra throughts, it feels swollen like a rising river. Eventually the words will spill out. Whether or not they produce anything usable remains to be seen.
My biggest writing challenge will be self-discipline. Everything else hinges on that. I have a space (that needs organizing), and I really want to write, but I allow my daily challenges to interfere. I am working on a daily schedule to follow for my writing, my quiet time, my family time, and my friend time. I’m making new habits, which sounds easier that it really is.
My greatest writing challenge this time of year is staying focused. There are so many things to distract me. The baking, the shopping and the decorating all pull me away! And let’s not forget the Christmas movies that I love to watch with a big bowl of popcorn. I am so thankful for my family that keeps me accountable. They encourage me and make room for me to write. I am also thankful for the Compel Ministry! Whenever I feel discouraged your teaching helps me to keep going. I am finding that this season with all it’s distractions also brings so much content to write.
My biggest writing challenge is being consistent about my time. I’m very motivated to write in the morning but if I don’t get to it, I’m not likely to catch up in the evening. And during the holiday season, inconsistency is a real struggle!
My biggest writing challenge at holiday time is sticking to the schedule of writing and setting that time aside. I have the added schedule of working part-time decorating Christmas wreaths at a Christmas Tree Farm along with the added directing of the kids Christmas production at church so my time is splintered even more than usual. As a staff we are looking to do this whole time scheduling and life productivity element better by using the tool of Michael Hyatt’s planner in the new year. I am hoping this will help me in all my writing goals and ministry/life schedules. I am also recognizing that my best work is done in the morning before the household awakes so I am working on going to bed earlier (not wasting hours in the evening by scrolling social media or playing games on my phone) but instead when I put my boy to bed at 9 pm to get myself ready for bed at the same time and reading quietly in bed to quiet my mind and lights out by 10 pm.
My biggest challenge, which becomes heightened during the holidays, is finding a consistent, dedicated time to focus (and remain focused) on writing. I tend to think I’ll write when I get the “other” things done (and off my mind). Predictably, I rarely get in writing time.
For me, it seems the only time of day that doesn’t easily get hijacked is first thing in the morning. Therefore, once my current intense two weeks are over, I’m going to begin scheduling in early morning writing time and practice, practice, practice, until it’s a habit that is not easily broken.
Thanks for the challenge, Tracie!
I plan to capture early morning hours for writing during the busy holiday season. We have so many evening activities and weekend gatherings. Early mornings are always my best time to write!
I’ve been watching my 21 month old grandson on a daily basis. I leave my house at 6:30 a.m. And get home at 4:30 p.m. I’m part-time staff at our church and am finding consistency very difficult! No excuses, but as a schedule driven woman, my life has little structure other than the hours I’m at our son’s home.
Congratulations to the following COMPEL members for winning a prize during this challenge: Heather Riggleman, Laurie Hampton, Michelle Gregor, Marie Lorah, and Gina Fox! Thank you for participating in our challenge!
I only just replied! Did I miss the submit by date? 🙁
I believe the winners were announced. Your input is still valuable. <3
I feel like my biggest roadblock is myself! Feeling like I don’t have anything “new” or “unique” to contribute, feeling like everything I’d write about has been written. So I guess I am trying to say that I feel like I do not have unique content to bring to readers.
If we all stopped writing because something else had been written, there would never be another word printed. I promise you have something unique to share, even if a topic has already been covered. That’s because you are uniquely you and your experiences and background and insight are uniquely you. Keep going!
In the past, I’ve only written when a topic stirred my heart or got me thinking. The challenge is shifting that mentality to one of more disciplined daily writing; made more challenging during the busy Christmas season.
Write early. Write late. Compile pieces when folks are gone. And give space as well as grace. That’s how I manage the holiday season. Since I write best surrounded by quiet, the hubbub of school and work vacation as well as holiday preparation, offers “opportunity.” (And if I’m not careful to lighten the schedule and offer grace, I’ll find frustration as well.) Missing time with family is out of the question, so I make sure to take advantage of early writing hours when kids are sleeping, adding a few evening hours if deadlines loom. Measuring offers with prayer and realistic consideration before making commitments helps as well. It’s a balancing act for certain, but when the Lord prompts you to “keep writing”, you do.
1. DEVELOP SELF-DISCIPLINE – Knowing that every other ‘action item’ will always seem easier, higher priority, and glittery than sitting down, silencing my mind, and penning what God has already written on my heart. I will set specific times to be quiet, absorb, and write. It’s the only way, my unstructured life will adapt to the discipline of writing. (I have a blog where I wrote over 400 posts. I have let that one go and have recently started a new one more focused on spiritual things.)
2. WRITE ABOUT WHAT YOU SEE AND EXPERIENCE – I have a broad circle of friends each contributing rich experiences that let me see into the souls of friends. So many are hurting, afraid, facing insurmountable odds. I know God gave us verses like 2 Corinthians 1:4 for a reason: “who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” In writing, I have to remember to write fewer words, with greater impact. That’s what I struggle with because I keep thinking of one more thing to say. Shorter is sweeter.
3. CRITIQUE OTHER PEOPLE’S WRITING – This is actually one thing I do often. I spend a lot of time reading and commenting on the writing of others and sort of lose the interest in writing. I want to encourage others by commenting on what they have shared, especially if the writing was especially telling of their broken spirit. With more self-discipline I will pay more attention to improving my writing by actually writing more, but still taking time to comment on what others have put their hearts and souls into.
Confession….on holidays, I struggle most with moodiness. I’m not sure if it’s whining children, demanding in-laws, or the pursuit for perfectionism, but regardless I often stare at a blinking cursor and opt to sort and color code my email box rather than start typing. The guilt of not typing creates guilt, which spirals into discouragement, followed by self-criticism and apathy. Once I turn the page on the calendar….it seems to subside thankfully.
Kellee, maybe you could sit and free write and let those feelings spill onto the page. There might be a stunning idea nestled in there. Don’t let your struggles keep you from writing, but propel you forward with honesty about where you are, how you feel, and how you find God in the midst of it. That can be our most honest work.
Not sure why i didnt see this email earlier. And i am procrastinating food prep for tonight’s Bible study group. But i am sooo glad to see this now. Yes…time for all things holiday is easy (sort of…still have a house to deep clean for decorating/tree etc.) But time to write? Why oh why can’t I? 🎶
I so need this. I simply need to find/make time. Time to free write, time to write down my dreams of late. Literally in one dream i encountered something and wanted to stop and take a picture (in my dream) so i would remember it as a plot? Or a writing prompt.
So something is stirring. Not sure still what i should be writing. Have so many “what if?” Notions and God breezes..
Awesome giveaway (even if I’m too late to enter).
Yes, making time to go thru online lessons/teachings /learning more about the craft and honing the craft are right now my writerly frustrations and challenges. (Plus the motivation and time to declutter a room for a (main) writing space).