Word by Word

Practical insights for writers from Jessica P Morrell

End Strong

Written By: Jessica Morrell - Oct• 21•19

We’ve had early rains this autumn, but the colors splashed around are russet, lemon, gold and scarlet.

I’ve officially turned into one of those cranks who complain about how fast time passes. Typically, October has found me gob smacked because once Halloween is over, the runaway slide toward the holidays seems to pick up speed.  Meanwhile, I want this season to linger with its burnished hues, last farmer’s markets, dahlias still blooming.

And I want to end strong.

Unless you’re gearing up for NaNoWriMo, I encourage all who stop by here to nail your writing goals before the year ends.  To not allow the frenzy of feasts and gift giving and gatherings steal your writing time and productivity.

Because wouldn’t it be grand to celebrate your accomplishments as you sip champagne on New Year’s Eve? You could spend January 1 looking ahead and planning, feeling momentum as 2020 launches. Here are a few suggestions for getting there:

  • Figure out what matters most in the (gulp) next 9 weeks and narrow your focus. Revising a rough draft? Nailing 50,000 words in November? Executing a marketing plan?
  • Be realistic.
  • Acknowledge your kryptonite, then do something about it. I procrastinate, and sometimes after dinner, although I have plans to write or work, I dissolve into avoidance and complacency. Then I go to sleep feeling guilty and wake up unhappy with myself.
  • Recommit: Create action steps and milestones that prove you’re on track. All goals are measurable; either count the hours or words you need to get in.
  • Don’t fritter away the first hours of your day. It’s sooo easy to do. If you can, get up earlier than usual. Don’t check your phone, turn on TV, or meander around your place. Start the coffee or tea. Grab your laptop or sit at your computer and clock in.
  • Use Sundays to plan your week ahead, slipping writing time into the nooks and crannies of your schedule.
  • Join me in whittling down your procrastination list. These items steal your energy. Tackle them in small bursts and purges if necessary. Naturally your list will reflect your concerns. I managed to tame a seriously disorderly closet, and I’m hauling off stuff I no longer need. I’ve got trim to paint, raised beds to clear  out, research to complete.
  • At the same time, take some shortcuts. When you shop for groceries, add make-ahead entrees to your freezer. Buy gift cards and movie passes.
  • Take stock of your habits. Do you need to go to bed earlier, drink more water, eat better, stretch more? Do you need to spend less time on social media?
  • While parties and such might start filling your calendar, stay home on week nights whenever possible. Slip in some writing time.
  • Take care of yourself when you’re stressed, tired, overwhelmed. This is when you’ll cave to another dessert; when you’ll stop in at the neighbor’s party even though your throat is sore and you’re beat; you’ll spend money because you’re feeling rushed or guilty. Holiday traditions sometimes turn into obligations. If they no longer fit your circumstances or budget, reconsider attending and practice saying no. Choose what’s most meaningful. And keep choosing writing.
  • Schedule meals, conversations, walks with people you’ve lost touch with. Reconnecting will make the holiday season more meaningful and your future warmer.

Keep writing, keep dreaming, focus on the finish

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