Finding Your AWOL Muse During The Holidays
By Mary Caelsto
Life seems to have a way of kicking into high gear at times. Like now. I can’t believe it’s the week of Thanksgiving again (here in the US). Didn’t we just do this? When life moves at hyperspeed, our muse can take a vacation. After all, between holidays, gifts, meals, and caring for our families, there might not be time for writing.
And yet, though my edits might get done as the turkey cooks in the oven, and I’ll be spending Thanksgiving with my laptop, this is exactly when you want to make time for your writing career. When the muse goes AWOL due to a busy life, you have to coax it back. Luckily, there are a few tried and true strategies to bring your muse back even during the busiest of months.
First, treat your writing like the career it is. Make sure you schedule time, even if that time is on a holiday after the turkey is in the oven. You might only have ten or fifteen minutes one day to write; schedule it into your planner. Make an appointment with yourself and work on your writing. The more you treat it like a career, the more others around you will respect and understand that, which means the more writing you can get done during the busy times.
Second, understand and be gentle with yourself. So maybe between pageants and dinners, gift shopping and gift wrapping, you can’t spend an hour a day on your novel. Or maybe, you’re so busy this month with NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, traditionally done during November), that you don’t have time for any other projects. Do what you can do, and understand that’s what you can do. Maybe you can sketch out some scenes in your next book or do a bit of publisher research while you’re checking emails or riding the train into work. A lunch hour spent at a coffee shop might provide wifi for some important networking. Make the most of the time you have, and understand that things might not be as productive as you want during the holidays.
Third, if your muse has gone AWOL for a while, coax it back with a new idea, genre, or project. Try something new without reservations or expectations. You might find that the muse comes back, ready to work when you’re not imposing “must get published” or “must sell 1000 copies” demands upon it. Then, once the muse is working for you, you can work on the business or marketing aspects of your career. But don’t pressure your muse with marketing if your life is stressful in other areas.
The holidays can be a time of joy, excitement, and fond memories. It can also be a time of worry and stress for the career author who needs to make deadlines and edits amid all the merriment. Pressure can send your muse away without any forwarding address, so release that pressure through consistent work, understanding, and releasing expectations. Soon enough, the new year will be here again, and you can work on your resolutions to write and sell more. For now, enjoy this time of year and you can enjoy your muse all year round.