5 Ways Not to Panic that the End Is Nigh

  • By Meg Opperman
  • December 14, 2015

Take a chill pill this holiday season — and wash it down with some eggnog.

5 Ways Not to Panic that the End Is Nigh

Is it really December? *Gulps, tries not to hyperventilate*

Yeah, sure, I like the holidays as much as anyone — family, friends, goodwill, and all that crap — but it also means it’s time to put my writing year in perspective. Did I write enough? Was it good enough?

Those are trick questions. There is no such thing as enough when it comes to writing. True story. And if I look too closely at my efforts the past calendar year, I might trip, fall off the happiness sleigh, flatten my well-crafted snowman, and fizzle my holiday cheer.

Completely unacceptable. So I’ve devised tried-and-true strategies to help me get through the holiday season with a helluva lot of writerly cheer. I bet these strategies will help you, too.

Ostrich It. Yep, head dive right into the sand…or snow in some cases. Denial can be a writer’s best ally. Instead of caroling fa la la la la, you’ll just be singing the “la la la, I can’t hear you” part. It works.

Strategic Plan. While looking behind can be depressing and encourage you to ostrich it, looking ahead is a mood-lifter. All that untapped potential; 365 glorious days — remember, denial is your friend — you’ll be able to joyously tap away at the keyboard and this time — denial again — you’ll be able to finally unwrap a huge box of enough on New Year’s morning. I’m sure it will happen…next year. But in the meantime, you must plan. Oh, you must plan, plan, plan. To help me with my yearly strategic plan, I use Mindy Klasky’s The Rational Writer: Nuts and Bolts. Everything you wanted to know about producing a strategic plan. Lots of other useful info too. It’s four bucks well spent. And for such a pittance, even the stingiest office gift-exchange Grinch can afford to put it in your stocking…or under your menorah. Whatever works. 

Misery Loves Company. What could be more evocative of the holidays than sharing your burden with your friends and loved ones? Call up a writer bud and ask how their writing year has gone. Pretend to pay attention. Then when it’s your turn…lie. Straight up lie. Tell them how amazing your year has been and how productive you’ve been. You can pretend you have so many manuscripts sent out that it’s hard to keep track of them all. You might ask them if they have any suggestions for a good spreadsheet to help you keep track. Also, if there’s a good opening in the conversation, you might want to name-drop. It adds a classy touch to your bragging. Something like, “Yeah, when Maggie Atwood — that’s what I call her, cuz we’re so close — and I were talking the other day about my latest success…” By the end of this conversation, I guarantee that your writer friends will feel awful about themselves and you can swim in misery together. You’re welcome.

Keep Writing. The most uncreative of my solutions, but it really does seem to keep the anxiety at bay. Sure, there’s family get-togethers, office parties, gift-exchanges, and kids out of school, but don’t let these events stymie your fingers’ need to keep putting words on a page. Look, you may have to blow off a few events and people in order to keep your word count moving forward. I’m sure they’ll all be very understanding. It’s the holidays, right?   

Eggnog. When all my other methods are not cutting it, I break out the eggnog. I don’t know what it is about eggnog that takes all the pains of the world away — maybe it’s the copious amount of rum I add? — but one glass and I’m golden. Golden. If you have tried all the above solutions and you’re still dwelling on the last 11 months and watching your holiday cheer sail up that sooty chimney, this one’s for you.

*Raises ginormous glass in your honor*

Bottoms up, and I’ll check in with you next year!

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