by Joanne Rock
I wish this post was about writing a holiday romance—something I love to do. Witness my super fun holiday release, Last Chance Christmas. But I wanted to share a few insights about another kind of holiday writing today—writing during the holidays. That can be decidedly less pleasant.
It’s an interesting dichotomy for creative folks when we are lucky enough to work in the field we once passionately pursued for fun. Mixing up the income stream with something that was once a labor of love is an emotionally confusing place. This puts a whole lot of demands on the labor of love to be much more than that. It must also be a labor of efficiency. A labor of smart economy. A labor of financial means.
Ask any Muse and she’ll tell you how much she hates this.
Pre-published writers don’t give any thought to this dilemma. I know I didn’t, and I had years of intense writing before I sold a book to consider every facet of the craft. But I was far more focused on craft than business, and I sure didn’t think about problems that selling a book could introduced. I thought only about the problems that selling a book would solve! I mean, if I was spending 90% of my waking hours writing anyhow, it only made sense that I’d love getting paid for it.
Of course, I do. Thank goodness I finally cleared that final hurdle to selling my stories. I’m happy
|I won a Snow Globe Award for Last Chance Christmas!|
Writers aren’t unique in this, of course. We all want to play during the holidays and chances are you have to earn a living too, so you can’t play all month long. What’s different about creative work is that—to do it well—the time investment is huge. Often, we are thinking about our work the majority of our waking hours. A piece of our brain is always engaged with the work-in-progress. Most of the year, that’s okay, because of the “labor of love” element. We wanted this job, after all. During the holidays, however, we all want to labor over gingerbread houses or tree trimming and—more importantly—to be really present in those moments. Too often when I’m writing through the holidays, I feel like I’m going through the motions since my story is always consuming huge amounts of brain space.
My cure is to write as little as possible during December. I’d rather work like a madwoman in January and November and close my laptop for a couple of weeks in December. Some years that’s just not possible, but every year, I try. For the first five or seven years of my publishing career, I tried to maintain my schedule through December (Be more disciplined! I told my Muse). For me, that was simply an exercise in frustration. I didn’t write well anyhow, and I still felt cranky and robbed of my holiday.
This year is one of those years where I really needed to write some during December. I’m super excited to have a new series out with Harlequin Desire in 2017 and I very much wanted the extra releases to get the McNeill Magnates up and running. That helps, knowing that I set up this schedule to accomplish a bigger goal. Another trick I’ve finally discovered after writing for almost twenty years? I can write the framework of a story without knowing every detail. That’s been revolutionary for me since I used to get stuck on small plot points in my writing, wanting clear answers before I moved forward. In the last few years, I’ve gotten much better at moving plot points forward, then going back to layer in depth and conflict elements. Go me!
Turns out you can teach old dogs new tricks. But next year, I’m going to box up all my tricks when I close my laptop early in December to simply enjoy the holidays! Until then, my friends, I’m focusing on what I love most about my stories, just like I did back in those pre-published days when I wrote because I couldn’t NOT write.
***I’m not the only one wrestling with how to do it all this holiday season! Tell me what parts of your holiday feel daunting and we’ll commiserate or share ideas to make it better! As a bonus, if you share your thoughts with me this week, you’ll be automatically entered to win this fun prize pack with Christine Rimmer’s Carter Bravo’s Christmas Bride from her award-winning Bravos series, plus my holiday 2-in-1 with Tawny Weber featuring two sexy Blaze Christmas stories AND a Runaway Brides tee!