How Writers Can Help Themselves this Holiday Season

During this time of year you’re probably busy with family and friends, celebrating the holidays. With merriment and socializing, however, also comes stress as you wistfully look at your laptop and wonder, “When am I going to get back to writing?”

My approach is to stop fighting the holidays, embrace them, and take an hour here or there to do other (“business-related”) things in order to boost my career. Let’s look at other ideas for how you can spend a free hour of your time to help your freelancing career.

  • Get a Grip on your Finances It’s way too easy to lose track of your accounts during the holidays, because celebrations and gift-giving can be expensive. Take the time now, to prepare yourself for the New Year, by sitting down and figuring out expenses, deposits, and your assets. Tax season isn’t that far off.
  • Do a Year-in-Review Grab a small notebook to take with you wherever you go. When you’re waiting in line at the checkout or patiently trying to get a table, whip out a pen and start writing about your major accomplishments and disappointments this year. After you’ve finished, post your notes on your fridge to help you get a realistic look on where you are as a writer.
  • Make a 2008 Wish List Like any other company or business, you’ll want to set goals for yourself in 2008, but before you can do that — you’ll have to get an idea of what you want. Maybe those goals are related to word count or types of publications you’re targeting; maybe you’re planning a vacation or taking a seminar. Gather your thoughts together on slips of paper, an outline, or your organizer to assist your goal planning.
  • Utilize Old Business Cards This activity can be a lot of fun; take a peek at some of the online social networks like LinkedIn or Writer’s Net. Then, see if you can’t locate some of the people you’ve collected business cards with the last year. For about twenty minutes a day, you can reconnect with people and increase your network.
  • Give, Give, Give Hopefully, the holidays are a time of light and laughter for you. But if they’re not, and you’re afraid you’re going to fall into writer’s depression, then you’re in a very tough spot. The holidays are challenging, especially for creative people, because there is a lot of emphasis placed on the “ideal” version of what these festivities are “supposed” to be about. In reality, the world can be cruel.So what can you do to avoid falling into a self-deprecating trap? Give. No, the gift does not have to be financial or even grandiose, by doing little things for other people over the course of the next, few weeks you can get back in touch. If sentiment is not your cup of tea, then think about it like “reaching out to your readers.”

    Since time is an issue for all of us, here are a few “giving” ideas you can do that will take you less than half an hour:

    • Hold the door open for someone else
    • Let someone skip you in line
    • Visit The Hunger Site
    • Don’t fight over the “perfect” gift
    • Listen to someone else’s woes or stories
    • Visit Do One Nice Thing
    • Do something for someone you don’t necessarily care for
    • Give yourself an hour of free time
    • Mentor an inexperienced author

    Amid the glitter, baubles and glitz the holidays can be frustrating for everyone so don’t be disappointed if your actions go unnoticed. After all, the “gift is in the giving.”

So there you have it. A few things you can do to wrap up another year of joy and sadness. I hope that you and yours have a wonderful holiday break, and that all of your words be meaningful (and profitable).

Monica Valentinelli is a writer, editor, and game developer. Her portfolio includes stories, games, comics, essays, and pop culture books.

In addition to her own worlds, she has worked on a number of different properties including Firefly, Vampire: the Masquerade, Shadowrun, Hunter: the Vigil, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn, and Robert E. Howard’s Conan.

Looking for Monica’s books and games that are still in print? Visit Monica Valentinelli on Amazon’s Author Central or a bookstore and game store near you.

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Would you like to hire me? Because my projects and manuscripts are in flux, I am always open to discussing new opportunities with publishers and studios. As a full-time writer, I spend a portion of my time seeking new gigs–so don’t be afraid to reach out. If you’re interested, please e-mail me via my Contact Page. I typically reply to work-related e-mails within one-to-two business days.

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