Southern belle with a story to tell. Refreshing iced tea served after literary punches thrown.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Does Holiday Stress Affect Your Writing?

Do you detest what December does to your checking account balance?  Do you find yourself after work scurrying around malls or perusing the Internets for the perfect gift for that perfect someone?  Are you knee-deep in holiday ham and green bean casserole?  Too pooped to enjoy more pumpkin pie?  Do you have to attend an office party or school play?

Well my friend, you're not alone, and like many who write, you may hold down a day job and also after work during December, you might have to do all or any one of the following activities listed above.  And those things take away from the little time you might have during the day to write.

Write you say?  What is writing?  Oh I know what that is!  It's what you do, during the month of November when the personal challenge of NaNoWriMo sends you into writing overdrive.  And maybe, just maybe, NaNoWriMo and all the 50,000 written words are to make up for the lack of productivity during the month of December.  

As for me, I am at a precarious point in my novel-writing, at the doldrums, or the deathly middle, as some call it.  I know I can't stop, because if I stop too long, I'll lose all this great "stuff" in my head, and my writing mojo too.  So I can't stop.  As my beloved grandmother once told me, "Joey, you either USE IT or LOSE IT."  Dammit, she was right.  She was always right.

What seems to help preserve my commitment to write, is to take a few short breaks during the day and attempt to squeeze in either a revision or an addition.  My goal this weekend is to wake up an hour earlier each day on the weekend, and enjoy a cup of peppermint mocha coffee and listen to some holiday music and wake up and then write.  The rest of the week, I have more modest goals, to do twenty minutes of writing after taking a bit of time out for myself first.  
^Santa knows how to relax!  Umbrella drinks at the beach!

There are a few rituals I find which help me write, and de-stress.  One such ritual is a nightly bubble bath. I soak away my daily cares and try to let the plot of the novel, float about like bubbles in my head.  And guess what?  It works wonderfully!  Some of my best work has come after a warm, bubble bath.

^She needs a bubble bath!

Another ritual, which especially helps after a super stressful day at work or after running loads of holiday errands, is to sing a silly Christmas carol.  Sometimes it's the Chipmunk Song, other times it's the "Jack Frost" song I made up to the tune of Nat King Cole's "The Christmas Song".  No matter what kind of holiday stress I endure, if I sing either one of these songs, it melts away.  I did this very thing yesterday, and the end result was a successful revision of 1/2 of a chapter.  The prose was flowing smoothly, like water over rocks in an icy, mountain stream, and it felt goooood!

If you feel like you can't pick up the pen or peck away at the keyboard because you simply are worn out from all the extra-added festivities, then maybe try to carve out some time to write and enjoy something indulgent.  Bring with you a cup of your favorite coffee or hot herb tea, or take ten minutes before writing to unwind and have a bubble bath.  Or you could just walk down your street, and look at all the holiday lights, while inging a totally absurd holiday song.  
^He needs to sing a silly holiday song.

You see, dear readers, it's my firm belief that you get your best writing done when you're not stressed.  It is a proven fact your creativity is stifled when under stress, so you owe it to yourself to do something a teeny bit indulgent as I said above, before you begin writing.  Start this month with thirty minutes a day, with the first ten being spent doing something to lower your stress levels.  You'd be amazed with what twenty focused minutes each day can do for your w.i.p. (work in progress)!

So tonight, before I  begin to write,  and set aside a few more moments to whittle away at my w.i.p., I'll wander outside and put the clear mini-lights on the boxwood trees outside my front door, while singing the "Jack Frost" song I made up several years ago.  Let me share it with you now:

"The Jack Frost Song" 
(Created by me, while driving home after a wild day shopping at Phipps Plaza.  It is recommended to sing this song loudly, off-key, whilst channeling the swagger of a Vegas lounge singer, to the tune of "The Christmas Song".)

Jack Frost roasting on an open fire.
Santa's elves are nipping at my toes.
Everybody knows..
Some turkey will have some mistletoe..
To help make the office party a fright.
But if you've been good and not like that guy, then Santa's on his way,
He's loaded lots of coupons and freebies on his sleigh,
and every once in a while, you will stop and you will sigh,
after noticing the money in your bank account has gone buh-bye.
And so, I'm singing to you about holiday malaise,
I'll probably feel until I'm ninety-three,
Although it's been said, to me in a holi-daze,
The best gifts at Christmas, are free.

I'll bet you feel better now, don't you?

Do you have a favorite way to reduce stress during the holidays?  Do you feel the extra activities of the season takes away from your time spent writing?  Or do you have a stupid holiday song you sing, similar to the one I made up?  Drop me a line and let me know.  Oh, bonus points for the best silly holiday song!  

You know..there could be a giveaway in the near future, before Christmas, for the best goofy made-up holiday song lyrics (winky winky!) 

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