Most of us writers know how difficult it is to stay motivated and continue to write during the holidays.
You may have plans to travel to see family. You may be the one hosting and may have to tidy up your home. You may be experiencing colder weather that brings down your mood, maybe even to the point of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). No matter the specifics, you have a world of reasons for your writing motivation to dip to zero.
Even I am feeling the weight of December on my shoulders calling me to abandon the keyboard and instead, buy another book for my shelves or bother the cat for the seventh time today.
Yet, it’s my job to advise you—like how self-publishing is a job—even if you don’t necessarily have an office and a water cooler.
Here are my tips and tricks for staying motivated with your writing, even during the holiday.
Set a New Year’s resolution—maybe even early
With it being the start of the calendar year, January 1st is a logical time to begin a new goal.
For a self-publishing writer, a fundamental goal would be, “Write a novel.” While a good starting point, this goal by itself is vague. With little direction, your motivation may flounder.
Instead, you can choose from several different methods for goal setting. For instance, you can set a SMART goal: a goal that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.
Under the SMART criteria, I could take “Write a novel” and rewrite it as this New Year’s resolution: “Write 4 pages of my novel every weekday until the end of April. Sit down at my writer’s desk at 9 in the morning to write for at least 2 hours.”
While SMART goals are a common method, feel free to research and find the method that most resonates for you.
Now, you don’t have to wait until January 1st, 12:00 a.m., to begin your resolution. If anything, starting a few days sooner gives you a head start for writing in 2022!
Improve your writing environment
While obvious, we often underrate the effects our surroundings have on our writing. For example, we may accept having distractions in the background would make it more challenging to work. So why do we blame a lack of willpower, yet we exonerate our unproductive work environment?
Assess your typical writing environment. Do you have a regular writing space, like a desk? If not, it’s helpful to pick one, even if it’s as informal as your kitchen table. Then look at your writing tools. Do you have all the materials you need in place? If you write digitally, how does your desktop look? After that, audit your distractions. Got loud construction outside or maybe an adorable pet like a cat?
Now, rearrange your environment to increase positive motivators and decrease demotivators. Noisy background? Put on headphones and white noise. Are you always too cold in the morning? Set out a warm sweater or coat the night before so you can put it on first thing in the morning.
But what if you’re traveling? Work with what you have and tell the other people around you that you need to get some work done and that you’d appreciate their support if they give you space to write.
Speaking of other people . . .
Find an accountability partner
It’s easier to slip when you’re the only one keeping track of your project. But what if you rope in another person to pay attention to your progress? Many productivity coaches call this an accountability partner, and a partner works for any goal, including writing.
Without a partner, the options you may face could be “work on your manuscript or spend the afternoon on Netflix.” However, when you have an accountability partner, this turns into “work on your manuscript or spend the afternoon on Netflix and tell your partner you didn’t work on your goal.” When framed like that, doesn’t Netflix sound less appealing?
Bonus points if you find another writer and you act as each other’s accountability partners! Such a partnership can transform into a lasting collaboration.
Accept you won’t always be perfect, then strive to begin again tomorrow
Despite your best intentions, you may fail to meet your word goal. When you feel unmotivated, and you’re staring at a blank screen or page, you may start questioning whether you’re meant to be a writer. After all, if you really wanted it, would you even be struggling in the first place?
In these moments, it’s pivotal to take a step back and forgive yourself. Successful authors are not perfect. If anything, the most successful authors are the ones who allow themselves to make mistakes and have those bad writing days, yet they persist and eventually succeed. It can take years for a writer to succeed, especially a self-publishing author.
So, if you have one of those days and the writing isn’t getting done, take a break, step away from your manuscript, and try something else. The holidays are a testing time for any career, including a writing career, so you won’t be alone in sputtering.
After the uncertainty wanes, come back to your desk and keep on writing. I wish you success in writing your book this holiday season. I believe in you!
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Now, it’s your turn! So what are your tips and tricks for staying motivated during the holidays?
Thinking of you always. ♣︎
ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.