Holiday Sanity Survival Kits for Writers
Hello, hello! The holiday season approaches and it’s another blog hop edition of the Life List Club! For those of you already stressing as to how to get everything done, you know the shopping, the cleaning, the cooking, the writing, the errands, the social gatherings, the donation requests, the pounding of your head on your desktop, rest at ease! Pam Hawley from Hawleyville is here to guide us through! So grab some hot cocoa, marshmallows are on the table, and settle in.
Holiday Sanity Survival Kits for Writers
A few weekends ago, Lee and I gave our ferret Vinnie a bath. Every once in a while, he gets a little itchy and … well, smelly. As you can see by the expression on his face, he’s not exactly fond of bath time. I’m pretty sure he thinks we’ve devised some new form of weasel torture. Vin isn’t the first ferret to share my home, and this has been a trait all of them have shared. Wet weasels just aren’t happy.
The thing is, they always feel so much better after bath time. They may not care about being soft, fluffy and good-smelling, but they’re definitely happy not to be itchy anymore. Like it or not, a bath now in then is a good thing.
As we kick off another holiday season, I’m feeling a bit like Vinnie during bath time. I’m a WWDJ (Writer with a Day Job), so the season of adding even more to the to-do list always puts me in a panic. I’m an introvert who needs quiet time to reflect, recharge and write. The thought of adding shopping, decorating, family gatherings and the inevitable round of parties to my already crazy schedule has me feeling like a weasel in a bath – all washed up.
But just like a little ferret shampoo and water is a good thing for Vin, the holiday season that puts me in such a tizzy is also good for me. Time celebrating and being thankful with family and friends is a precious gift, and something worth making room for in our lives.
So, what does an introverted writer who is already pulled in too many directions do when life is about to get even busier? If you’re anything like me, you’re putting together your survival kit. During the Season of Social Fun, it is more important than ever to have those things that help you relax and recharge close at hand. Making a little time each day to spend with my handy-dandy survival kit revitalizes both me and my writing. My kit includes:
My reward at the end of a busy day is to curl up on my couch with my trusty friend, even if it is only for a little while. What I love best about my Kindle is that I can stock it up with plenty of reading choices without having to lug around a small library. I’ve got short stories, favorites to re-read, new authors to try, and plenty of writing advice at my fingertips. Inspiration, lessons and pure guilty pleasure are all there for the taking.
As much fun as the holidays will be, they will hijack some of my creative mojo. For an introvert, being zapped during incredibly social times is just a fact of life. So when I sit down to write and the words won’t come, I grab my camera and head off for a photography session. My subjects are simple – my ferret, my cat, or even the mailbox in my front yard. Sometimes the pictures are awful, and sometimes they come out great. Either way, I’m clearing my head and forcing myself to look at something ordinary in a new light. That simple act reconnects me to my creative spirit.
For those busy days when there just isn’t time to sit and type, I keep a pen and notebook handy. I’m not going to write my novel that way, but I can jot down snippets and random ideas or observations that I may use down the road. Again, it is about not leaving my creativity behind even when running at top speed.
There is nothing more calming and soothing than to sit and pet my cat Sly while he head-butts my Kindle or purrs in my lap. There is nothing more energizing than watching Vin bounce around my bedroom making happy “clucking” noises and doing the “weasel war dance.” Sly’s lazy yawns and stretches are a constant reminder that the world won’t stop turning if I take a few minutes to yawn and stretch myself. Vin’s playful hops are a reminder that life should be lived with joy in every step.
During the holidays, it is even more important to recharge ourselves if we want to stay on track with our goals. These are my tools for dealing with life at top speed. Do you know what belongs in your survival kit? If not, figure it out before you think about buying gifts, cooking turkeys or digging out the decorations.. Your kit might look very different from mine. Maybe it is a favorite video game and your comfiest chair or a stack of funny movies, a bottle of wine and scented candles. It doesn’t matter WHAT you have in your kit, as long as it makes you breathe a huge sigh of relief at the end of a busy day.
What gets you through the busier times in your life? What helps you relax and recharge so that you can enjoy all the fun of the holiday season while still making progress in your goals?
In addition to short fiction, Pam Hawley writes humor pieces and is working on her first novel, which blends the creepy and the funny by bringing a brutally murdered “player” back to life as a naked ghost. Her short story “A Wingding and A Prayer” appeared in the July issue of eFiction Magazine (available at http://www.efictionmag.com). Her short horror fiction, “Peanut Butter and Jelly,” will appear in The Spirit of Poe Anthology available at http://literarylandmarkpress.blogspot.com. When not working, writing or in the gym, Pam can most likely be found curled up on her couch reading, hanging out at her family pub Hawley’s in Baltimore, or cheering the Pittsburgh Steelers. She blogs regularly at http://hawleyville.wordpress.com.
Hi ya’ll! Happy Halloween! Today’s post is brought to you by Dolly Parton! And I’m just thrilled to be celebratin’ with ya’ll on All Hallow’s Eve. Don’t you get to spookified, I’m here to guide ya and keep the ghosts away!
Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. And since it falls on a monday, I had a whole weekend to celebrate. For starters, I went to work for Jess on Saturday. I was a big hit with her team. They made the credit goal we needed so I agreed to sing for them. Popular requests were 9 to 5 and Jolene. Two of my favorites!
Saturday night was the typical celebrity party. You know, attend a live concert, well, at least I think they were…
The usual music celebrities were there. Michael Jackson, Prince, Amy Winehouse, Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy, and my particular fave, ABBA.
After a full night of autograph signing, I was ready for a lazy day at home on the couch. The line-up included: Halloween, The Addams Family, Practical Magic, and The Walking Dead.
To end the night, some great reads that say Halloween!
Tiffany A White’s Ooooh Factor gave an eerie review for The Boo Factor of the scream favorite film Halloween.
Sara Grambusch made a Halloween monster mash-up that talked craft projects, party foods, and even wine and candy pairing in My Magical Halloween Puree.
Albert Berg gave away his book The Mulch Pile for FREE in honor of Neil Gaiman’s All Hallows Read. Be sure to get your copy of this spooky tale!
The Good Greatsby shared halloween stories from his creative children, The Fonz and Optimus Prime. Fonz has got a secret and he thinks you’d like to know what it is in Saturday Hallowiener.
Little Miss Vix shares her Top 10 Supernatural Favorites including books, film, and TV series. See if yours made the list or add to it!
If history is your thing, check out El Muerto: The Texas Headless Horseman by Catie Rhodes.
If you missed the final edition of Haunted Hawleyville by Pam Hawley, check out her last post about camping in the woods with her family, Visits from Jason and Freddy.
That’s all for this Halloween, folks! How did you celebrate this weekend? Hope you all have a fabulous All Hallows Eve!
Bon Voyage Blog Mash-Up
Hey Writers and Readers,
Yours truly is taking a blogging week hiatus to go on vacation! It’s a much needed break from work, and yes, even writing, to spend a week with my honey. We need to put in the quality time with each other, and finally, our schedules have matched up enough to take a trip. I’ll be back in two week’s time to tell you all about sunny Toronto.
In the meantime, I hope you’ll post in the comments any links from blogs you’ve read or written and want to share with me. I promise to read them all and leave a comment. Plus, you’ll make sure I don’t miss anything fabulous while I’m away.
I’m sharing with you a quick mash-up of awesomeness to peruse through while I’m off.
You can read about my meltdown and why this vacation is perfect timing in Writer Meltdowns: A Case of the Mean Reds, my Life List Club guest post over at the amazing Gene Lempp’s Blog.
Pam Hawley, my secret east coast twin, shares her writing tips in a fun-flippered way in her guest post at my place Sit, Waddle, Scoot and Swim.
Kristen Lamb served up a slice of self-discipline that was just my size in Self-Discipline-The Key to Success.
Amanda Rudd discovered one of her favorite science fiction writers was actually a woman! She sleuths out the truth in Is He a She? Using Pseudonyms to Hide Gender.
Tiffany A. White’s got the Ooo Factor on Long Lost Childhood Reads. Share your favorites too.
Selena Wolff shares with us her tarot spread and the karmic balance of relationships in Tarot Tuesday-Love and Relationships. Very interesting read for writers and readers alike.
Sonia Medeiros is hosting a blog prize giveaway in her post 100 Posts…What? Already! Go stroll down memory lane with her and maybe you’ll win a prize too!
And announcing the publication of my awesome friend, Mark Petruska’s book, No Time for Kings, here him discuss the self-publishing route and what it feels like to see his name on the book spine, and he also complains about the price of eggs! Congrats Mark!
Avoid Unintentional Sabotage: Help Those You Love Support You in Your Goals
It’s Life List Friday and I’m thrilled to have Pam Hawley of the Life List Club guest posting with me today. It might be the fact our lives seem like parallel living situations on opposite coasts (if by coast you mean the Mississippi River, right?), or it could be that she’s just a phenomenal writer whose honest words never fail to inspire me, but I think you’re going to love Pam’s advice about how to partner with your loved ones to best achieve your goals. Enjoy Pam’s wonderful post and be sure to stop by Sonia Medeiros’ blog where I’m guest posting for Fear Factor Friday on how horror films impact our life goals. Then you can check out more of the Life List Club blogs by visiting the writers in the LLC Blogroll in my sidebar. We’re all guest posting today and we love hearing from you about your own goals and life lessons; stop on by! Don’t forget, the party continues at #LifeListClub, open all hours and there’s none of that hand stamping that won’t wash off for days. 🙂
Avoid Unintentional Sabotage: Help Those You Love Support You in Your Goals
I once worked with a woman who had been overweight her whole life. She was the “office mom,” the one who brought in donuts on Mondays to make them less Mondayish. She was the one who noticed when you were headed for a stress meltdown and surprised you with a treat. When she retired, we all felt a hole where her nurturing presence had been.
Before she retired, she set a goal of losing weight. Our little band of coworkers was more than happy to help her. We brought in healthy lunches so she wouldn’t have to watch us eat pizza while she nibbled on a Lean Cuisine. We took walks on our breaks and shared advice on getting fit.
Still, she struggled. One day, she confessed that she had a tough time sticking to her regimen at home.
“I’ve got the willpower not to buy junk food,” she admitted. “But I cave and chow down if it’s in my face.” When her hubby went to the store, he brought home Doritos, Coke, cupcakes, and their other favorite munchies. If he wasn’t raiding the junk food aisle, he was stopping by their favorite carry-outs and “surprising her” with subs or pizza.
As women are known to do when a man is being thickheaded, we called him all sorts of names. She defended him, saying ‘that’s just the way he is.’ In hindsight, I realize she was right.
Sometimes, our loved ones are impediments to achieving our goals. If we’ve chosen our friends and family wisely, this isn’t because they’re evil minions sent to keep the extra pounds on our bodies or our novels unwritten. But people are resistant to change and stuck in (or maybe just happy with) their own routines. When we start making changes in our own lives, we don’t always realize how we’re impacting those in our circle.
When loved ones seem to be sabotaging our goals, their actions are rarely malicious. In fact, they may just be doing the same things they’ve always done. Even in those rare cases where a friend or partner is truly acting in ways that are counterproductive towards our goals, their actions are usually subconscious.
A wife who makes snide comments about her husband “sitting at the computer all day” may be resentful of how his newfound focus on his writing has put extra household burdens on her. A friend who tempts you with invites to happy hours at all your favorite restaurants when you are dieting may secretly be feeling bad about herself. Or maybe she just misses spending time with you now that you’re always in the gym instead of hanging out with her.
My own boyfriend would often try to talk to me while I was writing. I was ready to pull my hair out, until I sat back and thought about it. He doesn’t write. He doesn’t understand the focus and silent reflection time I require when I’m working on my novel or a short story. So instead of just getting annoyed and sulking all night (obviously I’m not perfect either), I talked to him about it, comparing my “writing happy place” to the way he feels when he’s in the zone playing his guitar.
“You don’t want to talk to me about the bills or what we’re doing this weekend when you’re working on a song, right?” I asked. Suddenly, he could relate.
In addition to such simple communication, there are other things you can do to help your loved ones support you in your goals rather than hinder your progress.
- Ask for what you need. We’d all like to think our nearest and dearest just “know” what we need, but that’s not always the case. Ask your mom or husband to take the kids out for a few hours so you can write. Tell your girlfriend you need her to stop tempting you with offers of gorge-fests at your favorite buffet, but that you’d love to go see a movie or hang out by the pool instead.
- Make sure you’re being fair. When we’re focused on an end result, it is easy to get tunnel vision. You’re working all day, and writing before and after work. Meanwhile, your spouse has taken on all the household chores that you used to do, even though she works full-time too. You’re writing more, but she’s seething inside because she has no downtime, and eventually the situation will implode. Compromise is essential to keep the life balance you need to stick with your goals for the long haul.
- Don’t be a bore. Your mom probably wants to know that you wrote 5,000 words this week. However, unless she’s a writer too, she probably doesn’t care about character development and plot struggles and your frustration with your over-use of commas. That stuff is fascinating to us writers, but not to anyone else. Network with others who share your goals. Have your lengthy and detailed discussions of writing or weightlifting or whatever your obsession is with them. You’ll save your loved ones from having to do the “polite stare and nod.”
- Take time to live in the moment. The only guarantee any of us have is the moment we’re in right now. Time spent connecting and having fun with your partner, family and friends is never time wasted. Don’t give up date night to write or study, or your weekly dinner at mom’s house to lose weight. Skimping on these special moments leads to resentment and loved ones who feel neglected. Cut corners somewhere else – a few more dust-bunnies under the couch or cereal for dinner instead of prepping and cooking a full course meal one night never killed anyone.
- Give what you’d like to receive. If you want your loved ones to support you in your goals, make sure you’re doing the same. Don’t get so wrapped up in your own struggles and successes that you can’t see those going on around you. While you’re hitting the gym, your wife is working towards her degree. While you’re pecking away at the novel, your best friend is working up the nerve to do stand-up comedy. Know these things about your loved ones, celebrate their milestones, and pick them up when they fall down. Even when you are pursuing totally different goals a healthy dose of mutual respect, support and admiration can keep you connected to those you love.
Like our goals, our relationships need attention and flexibility to stay strong. It is easy to overlook that simple fact when we’re racing towards a finish line. Instead of running, do the marathon at a pace that allows those you love to walk beside you.
Pam Hawley is a writer living in Baltimore, MD. When she’s not working at her day job, writing or in the gym, she can usually be found at her family’s pub, Hawley’s in Baltimore. So far, her new approach to achieving goals seems to be working – her first published short story, “A Wingding and a Prayer” appears in the July issue of eFiction Magazine. Pam blogs regularly at Hawleyville http://hawleyville.wordpress.com and is spending much of her free time these days happy dancing about the fact that the NFL lockout is over and she’ll have Steelers football back soon!