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Creativity coach, writing and creative process instructor, speaker, author of Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Write the Way You Want (Penguin/Tarcher 2012) and Dancing in the Dragon's Den (Red Wheel Weiser), Teaching Artist at the Loft Literary Center.

Reduce Writing Commitments to Keep Your Holidays Resistance-free

pauseIt may seem a bit paradoxical that one of the best ways to sustain your writing habits during the holidays is to reduce your commitments to them. Commit to less, accomplish more.

Years ago, before I understood the nature of writer’s resistance, I thought I should be able to log hours and hours of writing during holidays and vacations. Of course, I never lived up to those expectations, which increased my resistance along with my self-doubt.

One of the watershed moments that helped me transition from frustrated wanna-be to professional writer was recognizing that writing is something I need to make time for every weekday, aka every workday. Writing would no longer be something I’d try – and fail – to squeeze in and therefore feel guilty about never doing enough of.

(Note: Professional is not the only alternative to frustrated wanna-be; plenty of writers who wouldn’t consider themselves professional writers are deservedly satisfied with their writing practice. And now that I’m semi-retired, my standard commitment is to show up for Product Time for 15 minutes three times a week.)

“Hobby” writer or pro, you can minimize resistance and potential frustration during your upcoming holidays by clarifying your intentions now.

Holiday Habits: The Best Gift You Can Give Yourself

closed-for-holidaysHobby writers might find they have more opportunities for writing during the holidays; professionals will almost certainly have fewer. We need to consider this when we make commitments to the three habits of Product Time, Process and Self-care.

For example, this week and next, I’ll be out of my office Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. So I’m committing to two days of Product Time. If you have time off from a non-writing job, you might plan to show up for Product Time on some of those days.

Holidays and vacations typically present opportunities to overindulge, which makes Self-care even more important. What you do for Self-care might vary when you have time off, but it helps to keep some routines intact. For example, I’ll keep my usual commitments to mediation and walking my dog in the next two weeks.

Holidays can also present opportunities for different kinds of Self-care. You might take naps, vary your exercise in an interesting way, meditate while gazing softly at twinkle lights or snow falling, or engage in more social play with games, toys, sledding, skating, skiing, etc.

decorateWhat you do for Process can also vary over the holidays. You might play creatively when you bake or cook. You might view wrapping presents or decorating as creative play. With foresight, you’ll give, and with luck, you’ll receive presents that invite creative play.

I’ve challenged myself to a target of discovering new ways to play for Process in the next two weeks. At the same time, I’ve reduced my commitment to Process to three days this week and next.

Targets Beyond Commitments

A commitment is a promise you honor no matter what; a target is a stretch-goal that would be great to reach, but it’s okay if you don’t.

Commitments are best evaluated by time – did you show up for the number of minutes and the number of times you said you would? Targets are best applied when you can’t accurately predict outcomes – how many words can you draft in a day or a week or month, when you will finish a chapter, essay or poem.

I encourage you to be expansive with your targets – see how far you can stretch. And I caution you to be careful about what you commit yourself to – failing to honor a commitment has long-term costs.

If you’re a hobby writer, the upcoming weeks might a good time to set ambitious targets. If you’re a professional writer, this is probably a good time to scale back your targets.

I recommend both hobbyists and pros reduce your commitments in the next two weeks. Consider the difference between how you’ll feel if you commit to two days of 15 minutes of Product Time or Process and show up for the fifteen minutes two times and how you’ll feel if you commit to five days of fifteen minutes of Product Time or Process and show up for two. The same behavior (showing up for fifteen minutes on two days) can cause vastly different levels of satisfaction depending on what you committed yourself to.

Get Clear

What are your targets for Product Time, Process and Self-care this week? Write them down, have fun experimenting and enjoy the outcomes whatever they are.

What are your commitments for Product Time, Process and Self-care this week? Write those down and honor them no matter what. And because you’re going to honor them no matter what, make your commitments small and unquestionably do-able.

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4 Comments on “Reduce Writing Commitments to Keep Your Holidays Resistance-free”

  1. bc December 26, 2013 at 2:25 pm #

    Reblogged this on Never Pity The Past.


  2. Rosanna December 26, 2013 at 10:45 am #

    Reblogged this on Writing on the Pages of Life.


  3. Books & Art - Spirit & Soul - Lesley Fletcher December 23, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

    I am a bit of both. I have been content writing and picked up a long term client who I have advised of my time away and I will be writing creatively while away (on that pesky novel that seems to escape me) So all good. What you have said here makes perfect sense. Merry Christmas 🙂


    • rosannebane December 23, 2013 at 3:49 pm #

      Thanks Lesley and good for you for finding a good balance!


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