Does the stretch of time between Christmas and New Year’s Day also turn you into a tortoise? Tucked into yourself, neckless, withdrawn, while a room full of people talks (several notches) too loudly for your taste?
Just me, then?
Anyhoo . . .
This time of year, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and overloaded. For all the “most wonderful time” soundbites, it’s often the most stressful time of year for many. Whether it’s feeling like your gift-giving list is too long for your budget, the number of event invitations outpaces your energy, or something else, many of us find that our already precious chunks of writing time become even more condensed as our creativity takes a backseat to holiday parties and get-togethers.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas. And while this wasn’t always the case, the combined excitement from my partner and our young daughter has a way of lighting up my own holiday heart and gets me toe-tapping to holiday tunes while baking even after hearing Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree for the umpteenth time. But all the baking and toe-taps in the world can’t get my writing projects…well, written.
If you find yourself in a similar position — energetically sapped and slipping into Scrooge mode — check out How Writers Can Retain The Holiday Spirit by Daphne Gray-Grant for Publication Coach. Taking the time to plan for holiday to-dos around your writing project so you don’t feel the time-squeeze is key, and Daphne gives her decades-tested advice for work, money, communication, and listening to your body. And she smartly encourages you to cut yourself some slack in productivity after the holidays are over and it’s time to resume the regular day-to-day.
And while you’re managing all the holidays things and your projects, it can be difficult to maintain focus. While I’m more successful some days than others, focus is an artform. My daughter has a book called, “Mindful Monkey, Happy Panda,” and it’s become a sort-of household mantra to us that “when we are eating, we are just eating.” I try to apply this lesson to everything I do. But to be hyper focused requires that you know your goals and what steps are necessary to achieve them. So, if it’s focus you need, Katherine Hutchinson-Hayes for The Write Conversation suggests 7 Ways For Writers To Guard Our Focus. Get clear on your goals, purpose, desired outcomes, and engage with community to see you through your process. It’ll pay off in the end.
Now, if one of your goals is to learn a new skill, perhaps this is the time for you to tackle it. Learning new skills has a ripple of positive effects, and I’m of the mindset that we should all be learning every day. Though, as much as learning something new can be energizing, it can also lead to overwhelm if you have trouble choosing the right skill to learn right now. Lisa Norman for Writers In The Storm offers If I Could Learn One New Skill To Change My Life, an article full of potential skills to learn based on your unique needs and goals. Frankly, if these ideas were on a dart board, the dart would land on a valuable skill to stack regardless of where it landed.
And when you’re learning new skills, remember: Something Worth Doing is Worth Doing Badly — wise words from Doug Lewars for A Writer’s Path. Because I hate to break it to ya, but the first time you do most anything, you’re going to suck at it. It takes time and effort to properly synthesize what’s learned and apply it skillfully. Doug uses his own experiences in writing practice and other endeavors to pad the fact that it does take something more than practice to become truly a master, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from trying, even if it’s just to figure out which skills are not ideal for your skill stack. However, after putting in the time to learn and giving it a real go, you should be happy, at least, with your efforts and your progress.
Speaking of progress . . . how’s that book coming? I know, I know, but someone had to ask! I mean, learning all the skills in the world is cool, but if one of those isn’t the discipline needed to actually write and self-edit your work, it might be time to get back to basics. Self-Editing For Fiction And Memoir Writers by The Editors of Writer’s Digest is designed to do just that. The Editors point out what great writing is so much more than just pretty prose, and the live webinar will cover important considerations before you submit your book to an agent, editor, or publisher — even if you’re self-publishing. If you need a last-minute gift, and especially if that gift is for you (self-love is important, y’all), enroll in the webinar and make January your month to start crushing your goals.
If a paid webinar isn’t your speed or style, MyStoryDoctor came out with a few stellar articles this week, and among them were: Eliminating On The Nose Dialogue by Alex Bloom and How To Fix Flat, Two-Dimensional Characters by Ross Hartmann. Both articles offer insights into creating authentic characters, whether through their dialogue or through their arcs and interactions. And if you’re navigating a self-edit by the seat of your pants, having these tips in mind as you work through your manuscript may make the difference between carefully shaping your book into an immersive experience and hammering your book into a brick.
And if you’re onto the final pass of your self-edit before shipping off your manuscript to the next stop on its journey, Bryn Donovan asks Have You Tried Back To Front Editing In Writing? Bryn explains what exactly a back-to-front edit is, why it’s useful, and whether it may be beneficial for your work. While she does point out that editing in this manner is so much more time consuming than it is to read while editing, she also points out that that is one of the reasons why back-to-front editing actually works well. You’ll need a fair bit of patience for this editing style, and it may be best to try your hand at it on a short piece first, whether it’s flash fiction or a query letter.
Now, perhaps you’re finished with your book. Maybe you’re editing and looking ahead to the future. Maybe you’ve started to research agents and editors. If this sounds like you, you’re probably seeking representation. And many authors do! The traditional route to publication is often viewed as a cornerstone of a successful author’s trajectory. And while my thoughts on that may differ from yours, I can’t deny that — at least prior to the 21st century — getting an agent is a career milestone. Tom Vaughan for Bang2Write put together Your Ultimate Guide to Getting Representation as a Writer, and the article really is a full of useful information you should know going into conversations about representation. For example: When are you ready for representation? What do you bring to the proverbial table? How do you write a query letter? What about those professional introductions? And there’s loads more.
I hope by this point you’re feeling a little less like a neckless tortoise and more like the unique author you’re becoming, even if you don’t quite feel you’re there yet. If you liked this article and want to see more advice delivered to your inbox every week, subscribe below.
And as usual, there was a ton more advice shared this week than made it into the article, so peruse the links below.
- 5 Takeaways From Coaching Writers In 2023 by Savannah Gilbo for Fiction Writing Tips
- 6 Tips To Help You Write Over The Christmas Holidays by Katy Segrove for Pick Up Your Pen
- 7 Ways For Writers To Guard Our Focus by Katherine Hutchinson-Hayes for The Write Conversation
- ADHD: A Writer’s Curse Or Advantage? by Shelly Sanders for Writer’s Digest
- Video: Bad Writing Habits To Drop In 2024 by Shaelin Bishop for Reedsy
- Boundary Boss by Steven Pressfield for Steven Pressfield
- Celebrate The Small Wins by Jodi Webb for WOW! Women On Writing Blog
- Podcast: Celebrate What You Create by Dan Blank for WeGrowMedia
- Five Top Tips To Smash Your Writing Goals In 2024 by Lucy V. Hay for Writers Helping Writers
- How Burnout Made Me A Better Author by Michelle Pennington for MyStoryDoctor
- Podcast: How To Write Four Books A Year With Ines Johnson by Sacha Black for Sacha Black
- How Writers Can Retain The Holiday Spirit by Daphne Gray-Grant for Publication Coach
- If I Could Learn One New Skill To Change My Life by Lisa Norman for Writers In The Storm
- Measure Your Success By What You’re Doing, Not What You Want To Do by Tiffany Yates Martin for FoxPrint Editorial
- Reflect And Renew by Rochelle Melander for Write Now Coach!
- Something Worth Doing Is Worth Doing Badly by Doug Lewars for A Writer’s Path
- Video: Stop Planning! The 1st Step To Actually Writing Your Novel by Tim Grahl for Story Grid
- The Weird Holiday Nowheretimes (And Why Knowing Thyself Matters) by Chuck Wendig for Terribleminds
- Winter Wonder—The Enduring Gift To Writers by Vaughn Roycroft for Writer Unboxed
- Writing With Purpose & Passion In 2024 by Maggie Smith for Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers
- Your Creative Reset (And Reaching Your Ideal Readers) by Dan Blank for WeGrowMedia
- Have You Tried Back To Front Editing In Writing? by Bryn Donovan for Bryn Donovan
- What Do You Think Of These Story Classifications? by Oren Ashkenazi for Mythcreants
- Podcast: So You Wanna Play With Format? by Mary Robinette Kowal, DongWon Song, Erin Roberts, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler for Writing Excuses
- Video: New Outlining Prompting Method by Jason Hamilton for The Nerdy Novelist
- Eliminating On The Nose Dialogue by Alex Bloom for MyStoryDoctor
- How To Build A Flesh And Blood Character by Angela Ackerman for MyStoryDoctor
- How To Fix Flat, Two-Dimensional Characters by Ross Hartmann for MyStoryDoctor
- Writer Fuel: Rethinking The Way We Workshop by Gabriela Pereira for DIY MFA
- 5 Tips For Crafting Unforgettable Settings by C. S. Lakin for Writer Unboxed
- Adding Cinematic Sizzle To Your Fiction by C. S. Lakin for Live Write Thrive
- Video: Storytelling On The Tabletop – With Paddy Finn by Mark Dawson and James Blatch for Self Publishing Formula
- Video: The True Definition Of Genre — Plus, Fantasy Vs Science Fiction by Tim Grahl for Story Grid
- Video: Masterclass For Writers: How To Plot Like A Pro by Shirley Jump for Write Better Fiction with Shirley Jump
- Video: How To Use Sudowrite: Using The Canvas Feature by Nicole Broussard for Nicole Broussard
- Video: Worldbuilding: Combining Magic And Technology In Science Fantasy by Marie Mullany for Just In Time Worlds
- Scene Mastery: Navigating Common Goal-Driven Scene Pitfalls by Lisa Poisso for Writers Helping Writers
- Make Your Story Golden With Systematic Editing by Lynette Burrows for Writers In The Storm
- Keeping Your Distance: How Narrative Distance Works In Your Novel by Janice Hardy for Fiction University
- What’s Your Book “About?”- Author, Reader, And Protagonist Might Not Agree by Barbara Linn Probst for Writer Unboxed
- Video: 7 Description Mistakes Every New Fantasy Writer Makes by Jed Herne for Jed Herne
- Video: Mastering Suspense In Storytelling by Brandon McNulty for Writer Brandon McNulty
- Video: What RunwayML Can Offer Authors by Steph Pajonas for Future Fiction Academy
- How To Get Good Writing Feedback From Beta Readers by Janna Lopez for BookBaby Blog
- What’s The Difference Between The Main Character And Protagonist? by Philip Kinsher for BookBaby Blog
- How To Write Comedy Part 3, Situational Comedy by Ellen Buikema for Writers In The Storm
- The One-Trick Pony: Characters With Limited Growth by Andrew R. Cameron for A Writer’s Path
- Let The Protagonist Take The Lead by Stavros Halvatzis for Stavros Halvatzis
- Feral Cats And Feral Writing – 4 Tips To Tame The Wild Words In Your Manuscript by Lori Hatcher for The Write Conversation
- Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Trying To Answer Every Question by Michael Woodson for Writer’s Digest
- Podcast: What Makes Steampunk Tick by Oren Ashkenazi, Chris Winkle, and Bunny for Mythcreants
- Why Kaiju Preservation Society Works And Starter Villain Doesn’t by Oren Ashkenazi for Mythcreants
- What Gives A Story Meaning? by Chris Winkle for Mythcreants
- Video: Six Keys To Unlock Show-Don’t-Tell Brilliance by Stavros Halvatzis for Get Writing
- Video: This One Prompt Type Will Save You Days Of Work by Jason Hamilton for The Nerdy Novelist
- Video: Interview with Anna Vaught on Overcoming Procrastination by Tom Bromley for Reedsy
- Video: Do This To Turn Your Story Idea Into A Novel by Shirley Jump for Write Better Fiction with Shirley Jump
- Proven Strategies For Success: Author Advice You Can’t Miss by Rachel Thompson for BadRedhead Media
- The 15-Year Author Business Pivot With Joanna Penn by Joanna Penn for The Creative Penn
- The Right Endorsers To Promote Your Book by Karen Whiting for The Write Conversation
- The State Of Book Marketing In 2023: A Year In Review by Grant Shepherd for Written Word Media
- 10 Innovative Booktok Authors To Follow For Marketing Inspiration by Althea Storm for The Book Designer
- 5 New Agents And A New Agency Seeking Literary And Commercial Fiction, Poetry, Short Stories, Nonfiction, Memoirs And More by Erica Verrillo for Publishing … and Other Forms of Insanity
- Your Ultimate Guide To Getting Representation As A Writer by Lucy V Hay for Bang2write
- What To Do About Reviews: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly by Andy Maslen for Authors A.I.
- Podcast: The One Where NYT Bestsellers Robin & Michael J. Sullivan Cover The Pros And Cons Of Indie, Trad, And Hybrid Publishing by J.D. Barker, Christine Daigle, JP Rindfleisch, and Kevin Tumlinson for Writers, Ink.
- Researching The Right Literary Agents For You by Christopher Hoffmann for Jane Friedman
- Book Promotion And Reaching Readers by Sabrina Ricci for Digital Pubbing
- John Marrs: On Self-Publishing Leading To Traditional Publishing by Robert Lee Brewer for Writer’s Digest
- Enhancing Social Media Productivity For Authors In 2024 by The Book Designer for The Book Designer
- Video: Kindle Trends & Chatgpt by Elizabeth Ann West for Future Fiction Academy
- I Guess We Need To Talk About Goodreads by Philip Athans for Fantasy Author’s Handbook
- Personal Copyright Or Business Copyright… Which Is Right For You? by Digi-Rights for Self Published Author
- 7 Things To Expect From A Professional Book Cover Designer by Althea Storm for The Book Designer
- 8 Easy Ways To Use Book Mockups To Market Your Books by Althea Storm for The Book Designer
- Your Substack Isn’t For Everyone by Elizabeth Held for Jane Friedman
- OpenAI Signs Agreement To Use Content From Major German Publisher by Dan Holloway for Self Publishing Advice
- Heart-Centered Book Marketing by Beth Barany for MyStoryDoctor
- The Writer’s Guide To The Holidays by Paula Munier for Career Authors
- Podcast: Writing For Money & Holiday Planning by Bryan Cohen and Courtney Kenney for Sell More Books Show
- 20 Must Do Steps For Amazon Campaigns For Ebooks by Shannon Clark for The Book Designer
- Book Cover Trends: A Critical Look At 2023 by Althea Storm for The Book Designer
- Author Website: Your 3 Best Options For A Book-Selling Website by Jason Hamilton for Kindlepreneur
- How To Create A WordPress Website For Authors In 7 Easy Steps by Jason Hamilton for Kindlepreneur
- How To Create A Niche Website: The Best Content Marketing For Authors? by Jason Hamilton for Kindlepreneur
- Best WordPress Themes For Authors: My 9 Top Recommendations by Jason Hamilton for Kindlepreneur
- How To Sell Books Direct To Readers: The Complete Guide by Jason Hamilton for Kindlepreneur
- The 3 Best Courses On Selling Books Direct To Readers by Jason Hamilton for Kindlepreneur
- Shopify Vs Woocommerce: Which Is The Best For Authors Selling Direct by Jason Hamilton for Kindlepreneur
- Best Drag-And-Drop Website Builder For Authors by Dave Chesson for Kindlepreneur
- How To Create A Squarespace Website For Authors by Dave Chesson for Kindlepreneur
- Best Web Hosting For Authors: The Good, The Bad, And The Heavy-Duty by Dave Chesson for Kindlepreneur
- Video: How To Create Book Covers With AI (And Why You Should) by Jason Hamilton for The Nerdy Novelist
- Leveraging Avatars In Book Marketing: A Guide To The Avatar Target Reader by Laurence O’Bryan for #PublishingReinvented
- Grow Your Online Reach With These 10 Tips For Submitting Blog Posts & Articles Online by Edie Melson for The Write Conversation
- Are You Managing Your Personal Brand? by Lisa E. Betz for Almost An Author
- Coolest Book Covers: 10 Inspiring Cover Designs That Defied Trends by Shannon Clark for The Book Designer
- 11 (Warm) Writing Conferences And Workshops In January 2024 by Erica Verrillo for Publishing … and Other Forms of Insanity
- Video: Selling Books Direct With Ingram Spark Share And Sell Program by Julie Broad for Book Launchers
- Video: Easily Get Book Reviews For Kindle Direct Publishing by Dale L. Roberts for Self-Publishing with Dale
- Video: How To Use Instagram Stories In 2024 For More Sales & Engagement by Shelby Leigh for Marketing by Shelby
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