Keep Calm and Carry On With Your Writing

Xmas_christmas_christmas_227801_lRaise your hand if, with 13 days to Christmas you are overwhelmed.  Raise both hands if, with all the extra to-dos on your list, your writing is suffering.

I thought so.  Me, too.  There is shopping to finish, presents to wrap, decorating the house, writing Christmas cards, and on and on.  And even if you don't celebrate Christmas I'd wager that you still get caught up in the hoopla.  It's pretty impossible to escape.

But this is probably one of the most important times to write.  For one thing, this time of year, with its early dark, is always an incredibly creative time for me, with numerous ideas popping up.  It would be a shame to waste it.  And for another, if you give up on your writing now, all could be lost until the new year.  I speak from experience–this has happened to me.

So here's my advice: keep calm and carry on with your writing.

The whole "keep calm" thing has become a cliche, but it has a great origin.  Rumor has it that this is what the queen mother said during the blitz of London, when bombs were dropping all over the city every night.  Every freakin' night.  Go take a look at this map of how many bombs were dropped on the city from July 1940 and June 1941.  

And now tell me: does the stress of this holiday season equal the stress (not to mention utter terror) that Londoners felt during this time?

I didn't think so.

But how, exactly, to keep calm and keep writing?

For starters, remember that the calm part is like happiness–a choice.  You can choose to get all stressed out and dramatic about your life or you can do what writers have done forever–put all that drama on the page.   And remember, too, that throwing words on paper can be an incredible antidote to stress!  Write out your anger and frustration.  You'll feel better when you're done, I guarantee it.

It might also help to take the time to meditate, or walk, or do yoga or Qi Gong–whatever it is that calms and centers you.  It is very easy to not take the time for these activities when you're in the midst of an especially busy time.  (I'm writing to myself at the moment, I'll confess.  I had a great meditation routine going but its been a week a few days since I've done it.)

Creating calm is often a matter of making time for it.

Ah, but you say, how can I take time for creating calm when I barely have time to write?  The point is, you'll be better able to focus and get your writing done if you've spent a few minutes sitting quietly or taking a walk around the block.

And now, about that writing….um, yeah.  Do me a favor and keep in mind one thing: you don't have to write 5,000 words a day to make progress.  Perhaps it is time to lower your expectations for yourself.  Instead of 5,000 words a day, aim for 500. When you're in the thick of it, maybe 500 is even too much.  Go for having the time to look over your work and maybe make a note or two.

The point is, be easy on yourself.   Put it all in perspective.  Remind yourself that this too, shall pass.  And if things get really overwhelming, go look at that bomb map again.

How do you cope during the holidays? I'd love to hear.  Please leave a comment!


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10 Responses to Keep Calm and Carry On With Your Writing

  1. Zan Marie 12/12/2013 at 06:11 #

    Keep calm…Yes, we need to. I’ll settle for a good night’s sleep amid all the stress of the holidays. At least my shopping’s done. 😉

    Good luck, Charlotte!

  2. Charlotte Dixon 12/12/2013 at 06:14 #

    I'm glad your shopping is done, Zan Marie.  I do mostly online shopping these days, but I still have a few things to get.  I'm in a place this year where I have decided to do what I want and let go of the rest so I'm less stressed than usual.  And it turns out that doing what I want is pretty much the same as always, but having made a conscious choice to do it is all the difference.

  3. Amanda Martin 12/13/2013 at 01:46 #

    This came at the perfect time for me! I’ve been awake since 3am fighting off anxiety attacks acout it all. This year has had the extra pressure of a child at school (feels like a part time job!) and a daily blog challenge. My car decided to die yesterday and it’s tipped me over the edge. But I sat and read your post, looked at the bomb map a few times, and felt better. Now I just have to decide where to calmly start ploughing through the chaos! :)

  4. Pat 12/13/2013 at 02:33 #

    I love Christmas and all it entails, so it never feels like ‘coping’ to me. Perhaps love is the reason it doesn’t stress me. It’s all fun and magic to me.

  5. Charlotte Dixon 12/13/2013 at 06:21 #

    Oh Amanda, it sounds like you've had some rotten times to deal with.  I'm so happy that the bomb map helped.  (Never thought I'd write "happy" and "bomb" in the same sentence.)  I really can't imagine enduring something like the blitz and it does help me put things in perspective–mainly that I'm an incredibly lucky writer.  I hope the chaos gets sorted out–I know it will!

  6. Charlotte Dixon 12/13/2013 at 06:23 #

    I love it, too, its my favorite time of the year.  And, in past years, I've done a very good job of getting myself wound up into a snit because I loved it so much I wanted it to be perfect.  And that ended up taking time from my writing.  But I agree–yesterday I read a blog post about someone who decided to skip the whole thing and fly to a sunny climate for Christmas.  That made my heart hurt!

  7. Leisa A. Hammett 12/13/2013 at 09:09 #

    Hey, Charlotte! I love that you write about this being a creative time. Winter does inspire me. Just about the only time I write poetry. And I am feeling creative and I am writing. (Blog posts. : /)

  8. Charlotte Dixon 12/13/2013 at 09:14 #

    Leisa, isn't it funny how this feels like such a creative time to us?  I've always loved this time of year for all the holiday hoopla but also because it is a time when I am introspective and full of ideas.

  9. Pat 12/13/2013 at 10:18 #

    Wanting things to be perfect, I can relate to that! It took me ages to realise no-one (not even me!) is perfect. We do the best we can. No pressure here for the ‘perfect’ Christmas, just an enjoyable one. If that means you stay home and don’t visit, that’s cool. Enjoy it. I will enjoy mine, if I’m writing, painting or chatting to neighbours. We invite the whole road in over Christmas, just for coffee and biscuits. Only my friend who flies away doesn’t come. It’s a shame some feel the need to escape, but some families make that the less stressful option!

  10. Charlotte Dixon 12/13/2013 at 13:40 #

    I know, and I'm blessed beyond all measure to have a family that I love and adore and want to spend time with during the holidays.  I do know that not everyone experiences this.  I have to say, I'm jealous of your painting–this has been coming up for me a lot lately, I think I need to start this as a creative outlet in 2014!

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