GUEST AUTHOR: 9 Ways to Jumpstart Your Writing During the Holidays

By Terry Whalin

Used by permission

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You can almost feel the shift in the publishing world when the calendar gets close to the holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.  I’m receiving fewer emails. My phone calls and emails are not as quickly returned.  The culture is shifting into holiday mode where activities outside of publishing fill our schedule and less is happening.

While the schedule for others fills with holiday activities, your writing does not have to go on hold. In fact, from my experience, the holidays are a perfect time to jumpstart your writing life.  Here’s nine action steps you can take during the holidays:

1. Increase Your Writing. Now is the time to lean into your novel or your nonfiction book and complete it.  No book manuscript is created overnight. It takes day after day effort to write your story and finish the manuscript. Make a plan for your writing then stick with it.

2. Create A New Product or Book. Do you have a new product or book idea? Take this time to lean into it and create. I encourage you to download The 24–Hour Product Creation Cheat Sheet from Jimmy D. Brown. I have several of these types of projects which have been on hold because of other work. I’ve started scheduling regular time into my work day to begin to move these projects forward and get them into the marketplace.

3. Write A Book Proposal. Maybe you have several book ideas and the place for you to dig in during the holidays is creating a new book proposal. If you don’t know how to create a proposal, take my Write A Book Proposal membership course or use my free Book Proposal Checklist or take my free proposal teleseminar. Then take action and create your proposal.

4. Reach out to Editors and Agents. The holidays are often a great time to touch base with these publishing professionals. Send them a card or email and reconnect with them. Tell them some detail you appreciated about them and see how you can help them. Those simple statements may go a long way with that person.

5. Read and Review books of others. I’ve written about this important habit but if you’ve never started it or forgotten about it. Now is a good time to read these books and review them. You will be practicing your craft of writing but also building good will among other writers as you read these books and write book reviews.

6. Begin a new program or tool. Do you want to learn how to make money with your blog or increase your social media presence? The key is to develope an easy system for you or to learn from someone else. I have a risk-free, detailed 31–Day Guide to Blogging for Bucks. Or listen to my free teleseminar on blogging or follow my detailed information on social media. Take committed time to work on developing a new skill or tool.

7. Get Organized. As a writer, I have piles of paper that isn’t in a file folder (where I’m much more organized). I took some time this weekend to sort through the papers, put them into folders and get more organized. If I haven’t used or read something,  I threw it away rather than lurking in a pile. As you get organized, you can be much more effective as a writer.

8. Pitch and Write Magazine Articles. Think about the publications you read and send ideas to the editor. If you have written for a magazine in the past, what can you write that they need? Approach the editor and see if they have a theme list online or one you can get from the editor. Then pitch appropriate ideas.

9. Write to Look for New Opportunities.  Maybe you want to do more speaking in the new year or have a greater visibility at a particular conference. Work on expanding those possibilities during this season.

I include more than a dozen ways to jumpstart your publishing life in my book, Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams. The key is to take action during the holidays and move forward with your writing.

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About The Author:

Terry has written more than 60 nonfiction books plus been published in
more than 50 magazines. For five years, he was an acquisitions editor at two book publishers and he’s a former literary agent. Now Terry is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing, a NY based traditional publisher. Terry encourages writers of any level (from beginners to professionals) at Right-Writing.com.

To help people pursue their own dreams of a published book, Terry has written Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams, Insider Secrets to Skyrocket Your Success.

 

Find out more about Terry Whalin here.

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A Kitchen, a Corner and Christmas!

Fabulous chocolate fudge.  Spicy cocoa mocha mix.  Savory roast beef with red wine. Wassail with clove-studded oranges.  Fruitcake.

Well, okay.  Maybe not fruitcake.  But what are the holidays without festive food?

The Kitchen

Grandma Peggy's Kitchen Cover.1Is your mouth watering yet?  Good.  Because I’m opening a door to Grandma Peggy’s Kitchen (aka: my mom), an  ebook collection of holiday recipes, reminiscences and easy, inexpensive craft ideas to spruce up your home for the season!   Grab your copy here.

Man in the Corner

Speaking of which, Man In the Corner is another holiday-themed story based on real people. “Mr. Tom” is loosely based on my dad:

Man in the Corner Cover

Mae Taylor and her son Josiah just want to be left alone after the divorce. Their plans to start over solo are jostled when they move next door to Mr. Tom, a lonely widower and retired school teacher. Together, this unlikely trio finds a second chance at faith, hope and love with help from holiday traditions, cookbooks, an attic secret and two ‘Christmas ghosts.’

Find it here.

If you enjoyed either one, a kind review would be appreciated. Thanks!

‘Fat Free’ Seasonal Treat? Have I Got a Deal For You!

So, how was your Thanksgiving?  A little too much mashed potatoes and gravy?  Are you wearing that third piece of pumpkin pie?  Not to fret.  Here’s a seasonal treat that’s not only “fat free,” it’s $-free, too!

Download your FREE copy of my micro-memoir, Isabella’s Torch: A Thanksgiving Memoir.

Isabella's Torch Cover Photo.3

Grab your FREE copy of Isabella’s Torch today!  Consider it my thanks to you for reading!  Why not make it a two-for? Sign up for my FREE newsletter at the same time.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned!

“Thanks-Giving” & The First 5 Minutes

Coming up with a clever, catchy “Thanksgiving” post can be a little like trying to re-write Gone With The Wind.  Ya just can’t improve on a classic.  I wasn’t even going to try this year.  Frankly, I was kinda “Thanksgiving-ed” out by yesterday.

Although Thanksgiving is traditionally family-oriented and a time to reunite with loved ones and gather around a roast turkey the size of Rhode Island, that’s not how our Thanksgivings typically run.

Parents on both sides have gone on to glory.  We live more than 1,000 miles from our nearest family members.  The rest are flung to the four winds, spread out across the country.  So weren’t not able to get together as often as we’d like, and almost never on Thanksgiving.

My husband is in retail, so Thanksgiving weekend is just another work weekend as the store struggles to stay in the black and hopes for a bang-up Christmas season. So our Thanksgivings are a little… shall we say, “non-Norman Rockwellish”?

A quick look around “Thanksgiving” in the blogosphere usually brings up something like: “What are you doing for Thanksgiving?” Or “How many people are you having over?”  “Are you traveling this Thanksgiving?”  “Who’s going to win the football game?” Or the well-worn classic, “What are you thankful for?”

Not to reiterate the obvious, but Thanksgiving is a holiday set aside to, uh… “give thanks.”  Count our blessings.  Lift our eyes off our self-soaked lives and look up to the Father of every good gift.

All well and good.

So why did I resist taking that route this year?  Well, basically because that route is easy.  Comfortable.  Expected.  It’s also a little … canned.  Predictable.  Rote?  Is that what Thanksgiving has turned into – “giving thanks” by rote – because we’re supposed to?

Lord, have mercy.

So this Thanksgiving, when some of us are still working off that third slice of pumpkin pie or that extra serving of gravy and mashed potatoes that we needed like a hole in the head, how ’bout determining to launch into “thanksgiving mode” year-round instead of just the last part of November?

Rather than relegating thanks-giving to one season or weekend a year, what if we took the first five minutes of each day to lift our hearts to God in honest thanks?  What if we went through each twenty-four hour stretch looking for at least one thing, person, context or event for which we can be grateful? I don’t mean Pollyanna or pie-in-the-sky bye-and-bye syrupy stuff.  I mean something that requires alertness, deliberation, and exercising our “thankfulness muscles.”  Examples:

  • “Lord, thank you for the 39th straight day of rain, a roof that doesn’t leak and the promise of an extra-green spring.”
  • “Thank you for my boon canine companion (or feline),” as the case may be.
  • “I’m grateful for hot showers and soap after an afternoon on the trail or in the garden!”
  • “Thank you for this morning’s sunrise.”
  • “Thank you for Corn Flakes and a bowl to eat them out of.”

Thanks also for:

Puccini arias. Truth. Faithfulness.Libraries. Friends and family. Mercy. Raspberry white chocolate cheesecake. Poetry. Lilacs. A good night’s sleep. Fresh snow. Divine guidance and providence. Ice cream and…  what else?

If we develop the daily discipline of deliberate thankfulness, I’m willing to bet we’ll discover whole new horizons of  wonder and beauty that were there all along.  We didn’t see them because we weren’t looking for them. We’ll probably find answers to prayers that we may have forgotten about, splashes of grace and  delight that we somehow overlook in our every day busyness.

Norman Rockwell or not, does that sound like an “exercise program” you can sign on to?  Who’s with me?

‘You Have to Love a Nation That…’

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You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism. ~Erma Bombeck

Happy birthday, America!

 

 

‘The Race’: A Mother’s Day Story

Mother’s Day. Flowers. Breakfast in bed. Lunch out. Hallmark. Thanks. Honor. Appreciation. Warm memories and lots of love. And it should be. But “Mother’s Day” isn’t  a happy occasion for everyone. For some, “Mother’s Day” is bittersweet. An emotional mine field.  The Race is part of my Mother’s Day story.

***

“You don’t have to get up this early” she smiled as I stumbled out of my bedroom. “I can drive myself. You go back to sleep.”

It was four o’clock in the morning. Saturday morning. The night before Mom casually asked if anyone wanted to join her at her marathon run on San Diego’s Coronado Island. Her 6:00 a.m. run. No takers. Until I decided to surprise her with my groggy appearance and volunteer my chauffeur services. “Mom’ll get a kick out of that” I said to myself. She did.

It was still dark as we backed out of the driveway and nosed the car onto the west bound lanes of Interstate 8. Our Dodge Aspen quickly devoured the miles between our El Cajon home in East San Diego and the coastal community of Coronado.

Mom and I chatted as the sun crept over the horizon, sharing a comfortable conversation that glided easily from one topic to the next. We talked about my plans to transfer to Biola University the next fall, her work as a secondary education supervisor at San Diego State University. My younger brother’s trumpet lessons. My older brother’s track meets. My kid sister’s gymnastics.  Dad’s golf game. It all seemed so natural. So permanent.

 Traffic was light and we made good time, crossing the cobalt blue girders of an all-but-deserted Coronado Bay Bridge shortly after five in the morning. We had plenty of time to find a parking spot and get Mom warmed up for the competition. Mom pre-registered for the marathon weeks ahead of time to avoid the long lines at the Walk On registration table. She was like that. Organized, thorough, efficient. Able to plan far ahead.

Mom finished her final stretches and headed to the starting line, chipper and cheerful. Yawning, I gave her a hug. “Good luck, Mom. See ya at the Finish Line.”

Mom flashed one of her effervescent smiles and waved. “Here we go, honey,” she beamed, “see ya later!”

The starter’s gun barked and Peggy Naas was off, her red hair blowing in the crisp morning breeze. I ambled back to the car to snooze while she churned out 26.3 miles on foot.

 I don’t know why I decided to drag myself out of bed and join Mom that day. Maybe I wanted to repay a small fraction of the unconditional support she had always given me. Maybe I wanted to be there for her, like she was for me. In my corner, cheering me on. Maybe I just wanted some time alone with Mom. If I had known how short our remaining time together would be, I would’ve wanted more.

Lowders & Naases

It was Easter, a few years later. I graduated from college, married, and settled in the Los Angeles suburbs. My younger brother was in college in Florida. My older brother was working for a local aerospace firm. My kid sister was completing her senior year of high school. That April weekend was the first time my family had been together in almost a year.

Mom met us at the door when my husband and I arrived, glowing with the effervescent smile that was her trademark. Chris and I were surprised to find her leaning on a walker. “From my surgery,” she explained, “the doctor suggested I use it until I get my strength back.”

 We had no idea. She wasn’t ill or ailing. The doc pronounced her “healthy as a horse, with the heart and lungs of a 30 year-old” at her last annual check-up. “All that running,” he winked, “exercise keeps you young!”

Not wanting to worry us, Mom and Dad decided not to tell us about her surgery a few weeks previously—or its cause—until it was finished and she came home from the hospital. I was startled, a little annoyed.

“We didn’t tell Kurt either” Mom said, referring to my younger brother. “He had final exams and didn’t need anything else on his mind while trying to cram.” Typically Mom, she reasoned that there was “no sense” worrying her kids with some “minor surgery” when “you couldn’t do anything about it” anyway. “Besides,” she beamed, “I feel great!”

Well. She may have felt—and looked—like a million bucks, but I had some questions. “Uh, Mom, you wanna run that part about the `minor surgery’ by me again?”

Mom patiently explained that she had awakened one morning without any feeling in her legs. Minutes later, she was paralyzed from the waist down, unable to move. Neurological and other tests revealed a tumor on or in her spinal column. A 90% blockage, the tumor obstructed the free flow of spinal fluid, hence the sudden paralysis.

“We caught it just in time” the specialist said. “A 100% blockage would’ve meant total—and irreversible—paralysis.” Scalpels removed the bulk of the tumor, but since spinal surgery is considered extremely delicate and dangerous, the surgeon wasn’t chancing total removal. Radiation treatments were ordered to eliminate what the knife had missed.

 Hearing “tumor” and “radiation,” my jaw hit the floor. Still smiling pleasantly, Mom quickly assured me that the biopsied tumor was pronounced “benign.” Doctors issued a 90% chance of complete recovery, with no serious side effects. We believed them. We believed her. So we shoved the precarious past aside and enjoyed our Easter weekend as if it was our last. It was April 1984.

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When the phone call came from Dad in early June, I knew I was in for a shock. He choked out the news in between sobs.

A neighbor arrived that morning to stay with Mom after everyone else left and Dad departed for work. Noticing Mom’s labored breathing, Miriam phoned Dad at work and then called the paramedics. They arrived within minutes and had Mom prepped for transport to the hospital when Dad arrived, tearing home with the speed of panic. Mom was gone before the ambulance left the driveway.

She was 54.

Oddly enough, her death wasn’t related to the tumor. It was caused by a pulmonary embolism resulting in cardiac arrest.

Her sudden, unexpected death threw our lives into emotional chaos, plunging us into the rabid smelting fires of bereavement. It was a grinding, wrenching process. A season of winter. Strained smiles, sleepless nights. Groping for answers that didn’t come.

One of my most vivid recollections during this time was how loss can be helped or hindered by the Pavlovian responses I rendered as did some family and friends. While my husband and I spent that first Mom-less week in El Cajon, I had the oddest sensation of deja vu. Buried in the newspaper or pouring myself some milk, I would look at the clock and think, “Where’s Mom? Haven’t seen her all morning.” I’d scan kitchen and living room aimlessly, mind refusing to accept the obvious.

 “Oh yeah,” I rationalized, “Mom’s out for a run. She’ll be back by lunch.” I slumped into our brown leather recliner and awaited her return. My mind would sometimes take 15 or 20 minutes to catch up with reality. Sleep and song offered sole relief to the omnipresent ache of my waking hours.

After the June memorial service, my husband and I returned to Los Angeles and attempted to resume “ordinary” life. But what did “ordinary” mean, minus Mom?

More than a year later, I half-heartedly opened my Bible to the Book of Job. “I have taken away,” He whispered from Job 1:21, “now see what I will give.”

I’d almost forgotten. “One moment, please” the lab technician said while she tracked down the results from my pregnancy test. We put off starting our family until my husband finished law school, a five-year endeavor. I nervously awaited the test results.

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“Congratulations,” the tech said, “you’re pregnant!” I thanked her for the news and hung up the receiver. I glanced at my wall calendar, seeing it for the first time: June 7, 1990. It all came flooding back. The positive test results arrived six years after Mom left us, to the day.

“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away,” Job echoed, “blessed be the name of the Lord.” Seven months later the obstetrician’s first words were, “It’s a boy!” followed by, “He has red hair!” Just like Mom.

We were expecting our second child a year later. My pregnancy was confirmed and we were given an October 1 due date. Then I approached the Throne of Grace with a special request. “Lord,” I began, “our times are in Your hands. It would mean so much to me if You would see to it that this baby is born on Mom’s birthday.”

I went into labor on October 11. Our second son was born the evening of October 12, which would’ve been Grandma Naas’s 62nd birthday.

I still miss Mom, especially when my boys see her photo and ask, “Who dat?” My eyes sometimes mist and my voice may catch as I explain that the slender, red-haired lady in the picture is “Mommy’s Mommy, your Grandma Peggy.”

Frozen in time, she smiles that effervescent smile from behind a photo frame. My boys would’ve loved her. And she them. But she finished her course before they were born; introductions must wait.

Hoq River Sunset 2I sometimes see her in my mind’s eye, red hair drifting in the breeze, waiting for me on the other side. Smiling, cheering me on. Rooting for me as I run my race. “See ya later!” Mom used to say, and from our separate sides of the tape we both look toward the Finish Line.

 

The Fourth Thursday: A Thanksgiving Story

Prancing and cavorting like a new colt in an open pasture, the fourth Thursday in November is like no other. The holiday trots out laughter, music, sparkling cider, mouth-watering aromas, memories of Mom’s good china and silver service, and “Don’t you dare come to the dinner table dressed like that!”

Thanksgiving in my hometown of San Diego was a day for Dad’s fabulous roast turkey, succulent and perfect, the fancy white linen tablecloth, and Mom’s lime-pineapple Jell-o mold with walnuts. Mom worked so hard on that Jell-o concoction, no one had the heart to tell her we only ate it to be polite.  I don’t think any of us kids actually liked it. (It was the walnuts.)

The oldest daughter of four children, it was my job to set the oak table in the dining room – the one reserved for special occasions – and to dig out the His and Her pilgrim candles from the bottom drawer of the china hutch.  Mr. and Mrs. Pilgrim presided unlit as our wax Thanksgiving centerpieces for years.  (I don’t know what became of them, but suspect they now preside over a big Thanksgiving table in the sky.)

Following the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and endless quarters of football, the Naas family gathered in the dining room to recount our blessings.  We held hands around a table groaning with goodness and bowed our heads as Dad said something like: “Lord, we thank you for your bountiful blessings and the many gifts you’ve bestowed upon this house.  Thank you for your love, and for each other.  Amen.”

Dad’s blue eyes crinkled as he lifted his head, grabbed the carving knife and grinned. “Send your plates down everybody!  Mom, you’ve outdone yourself again!”

The six of us didn’t even dent the Thanksgiving spread Peggy Naas laid out every year, a feast that could feed Rome’s legions.  Dad was in charge of the turkey and stuffing, but Mom took care of the rest.

“Who wants to go out for a jog?” she’d say after our mid-day meal.  Mom ran marathons competitively and usually finished in the top three for her age group.  My kid sister Laura and I would join her, lumbering around the block in our shirt sleeves.  You can do that in November in San Diego, the “land of endless summer.”  We laced into our running shoes while Dad and brothers Jeff and Kurt were glued to a TV screen watching a bunch of college athletes toss a pigskin around a cow pasture.

“How ‘bout dessert?” Jeff inquired upon our return.  Six feet tall and 135 pounds soaking wet, Jeff could afford to inquire.

“Pumpkin or mincemeat?”  Mom replied, russet hair tumbling around her dark eyes as she strode into the kitchen, a culinary monarch surveying her regal realm. Laura and I grabbed dessert plates and unearthed pies from their refrigerated repose for Mom to slice and serve.

We polished off dessert more than once. Jeff and bean-pole thin kid brother Kurt returned for more as we gathered into the living room for our annual review of a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.  In later years, Walton Thanksgiving specials became a family staple.

It’s hard to believe that so many Thanksgivings have come and gone since these holiday classics originally aired.  I look back and wonder, “Where did the time go?”  I don’t remember the years moving so fast in my younger days.  They seem to pile up after five decades, rushing by with avalanche-like alacrity.  Just like the holidays.

At last count, the Walton Thanksgiving movies totaled three. Interesting, isn’t it, that not Christmas, Easter, or even Mother’s Day but Thanksgiving inspired three separate movie specials?  In one Walton movie Cora Beth Godsey observes, “On Thanksgiving, of all holidays, one should be at home.”

I didn’t agree with the starchy shopkeeper’s wife on much, but without family or friends, Thanksgiving is … well, it’s like Abbott without Costello.  Lucy without Ricky.  Turkey without…  Well.  You get the idea.

As autumn glides into winter this year, November seems both full and empty as I find myself at an age where memories stir like Mom’s brown gravy on the Kenmore back burner.  Thanksgiving evokes faces and voices from the mists of memory like no other day.

This year’s fourth Thursday will be filled with whispers of grace: kids, counted blessings, feasting, football, friends.  Hands clasped around a table groaning with goodness.  Hearty “Amens!” Maybe a Waltons re-run or two.  But my grandparents, favorite uncles and aunts are all passed on, as are Mom and Dad. My siblings are flung to the four compass corners of the map.  I miss them all and feel their absences most acutely between November and December.  While we aren’t able to gather around a turkey-and-trimmings table as often we’d like, we hold each other close in our hearts.

And so, more than a thousand miles removed from my southern California roots, Thanksgiving reminiscences remain warm.  The holiday is sweeter than Mom’s lime-pineapple Jell-o without the walnuts because I, like Cora Beth Godsey, have learned that wherever my loved ones are on the fourth Thursday in November, I’m Home.

***

A non-fiction story, The Fourth Thursday won first place in last year’s Short Story Contest by Christian Creative Writers. It was also featured in the The Wordsmith Journal magazine.

Don’t go away. There’s more. Download the ‘expanded version,’ Isabella’s Torch: A Thanksgiving Memoir for free here.

Visit Kristine on Facebook at: Kristine Lowder, Writer
Twitter: RoadDiverged

 

Photo credit: public domain

‘Thankful Threes’

Good Monday and Happy Veterans Day!

Fountain

“Okay,” you say, “‘Good’ and ‘Monday’ should never appear together in the same sentence.” Point taken. But hang on a minute. It gets better. Promise.

Writing about “good” on a gray, gloomy Monday isn’t an “oops.”  It may seem like an “Oops.” But it’s not. No. Really. It’s intentional. Let me explain.

Continue reading

A New Year’s ‘Un-Party’?

Confetti. Auld Langsyne. Party hats, noise makers and resolutions. That’s how a typical New Year’s celebration looks, right?

Maybe.

An ‘Un-Party’

I’d like to make a suggestion: instead of asking you what your writing goals are for the new year or taking bets on how long that January 1 “resolution” will last, how ’bout a New Year’s un-party instead?

How ’bout celebrating the New Year by cleaning up and un-cluttering junk from the last? Like uncluttering:

  • Your desk. I did that yesterday. All those broken pencils and inkless pens? Gone! Illegible, archaic notes? History! Un-sticky sticky notes? Hello round file! (I did retain a few favorite crayons. You never know.)
  • Your book bag. I found Jimmy Hoffa! He was hiding under the ton of useless, outdated junk I’ve been hauling around in my “book bag” for the past year. Not really. But I did get rid of library due date reminders dating back to the Ice Age. Ditto those plastic utensils for the 4th of July picnic. I even washed that bag. I’d forgotten its original color: red.
  • Your brain. This will work differently for each individual. Try something that works for you. I grabbed a fresh ream of paper, a pen and just started writing. Jotted down several pages of notes, ideas, and dreams. Poured out several writing goals. Crystallized some publishing plans and potential submissions. Wrote out some writing frustrations and disappointments as well as some high points. Just writing it out and capturing ideas on paper helped whip some random thoughts into shape and de-clutter the ‘ole cerebral hard drive.
  • Your hard drive. Speaking of which, when’s the last time you sorted through your In Box and got rid of dead wood, or backed up your hard drive? How ’bout an un-cluttering party for both?

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public domain image.

There’s nothing like launching into a fresh New Year after cleaning up some of last year’s clutter.  I feel better already.

Now, where are those party hats?

Are you throwing a New Year’s ‘Un-Party’? How?

***

Join us next time for an author interview with J.C. Edwards, author of Poems of Living, Loving and Lore.

Writing it Real in the ‘Weird Season’

Xmas window treatmentsWe’ve just hit what I call the Weird Season.  You know, the “dip days” after December 25 and before January 1, when some of the patina of Christmas  fades in the rear view mirror and New Year’s is  down the road aways.

Does it feel… weird?  Like all the hope and hype of Christmas has dulled and you’re either basking in the afterglow of a warm and wonderful December 25, or you’re relieved at surviving another dreary disappointment, glad it’s gone and history?

How ’bout you?

Was your Christmas festive and fun, full of frolic and holly-decked halls? Did you enjoy a great office party?  Snowball fights with the fam?  Caroling, wassail-ing, mistletoe-ing and piles of gift-wrap?

Maybe your Christmas was lonely, meager and thoroughly forgettable? Did you logged off Facebook because you couldn’t stand scrolling through one more friend’s idyllic family gathering, all cozy and comfy around a kitchen table heaped with Christmas cheer? Maybe Christmas was replete with dashed hopes and unmet expectations?

Whatever the case, can I make a suggestion on how to deal with the Weird Season that hits between December 26 and January 1?

Write it out.

Whether you journal, blog, knock out a short story, write a letter or  jot notes on the back of a cereal box or a paper napkin, write it out.  Was your Christmas:

  • Disappointing? Write it out.
  • Filled with wonder and awe and memorable moments? Write it out.
  • Joyful and triumphant? Write it out.
  • A time of angst and stress and forced family ‘togetherness’? Write it out.
  • Did you make mistakes in 2012 that you want to avoid in 2013?  What lessons did you learn, what bridges did you build or discover in 2012 that you’re taking into the New Year?  Remind yourself. Write it out.

House with wreath, snowBe honest.  Process your disappointment, anger, frustration or “love and joy come to you, and a merry Christmas too!” or “I wish it could last forever” post-Christmas let-down by writing it out.  Writing it real can not only help you get a handle on your Weird Season emotions, it’s also healthy.  A release.  A good way to gain some perspective.

‘Weird Season Therapy’

As you write, you may find fresh insight or understanding nosing around that wreath-wrapped window, curled up under that light-lit lintel.  You may also discover some unopened Weird Season “packages” like increased sensitivity toward those who may struggle to be “all in” at Christmas.  More empathy for the less fortunate.  A bigger heart for the lost.

Think of  writing it out as Weird Season Therapy.  If you’ve read this far, you know what I mean.  It’s okay.  You’re a writer.  If this holiday season lost some of its luster, was less than you hoped for, or you’re not quite ready to let go of the goodness, do what you do best: write about it.

There.  I feel better already.

How do you cope with the ‘Weird Season’?