Writing Through the Chaos

Frustration can drive you crazy, if you let it. In addition to producing quality work, captivating stories and factual accounts in the greatest of detail, you must dedicate as much time and energy to feeding your network with brief but equally captivating messages. As if the challenge of being a successful writer were not enough, along comes the din of the holiday season.

As the festive season reaches a crescendo, you find yourself distracted by a host of activities that take you away from your writing. To make matters worse, you know that your audience is equally distracted until about mid-January, when life resumes its normal flow. You may feel like you are spinning your wheels and making no progress. Staying focused and feeling productive at this time can be a significant challenge.

The first bit of advice would be to take a deep breath and take frequent breaks where you can take a fast walk – no less than ten minutes. Right about now, you might be saying, “What? You want me to take a break when my wheels are already spinning? No, I need to work harder!” Right, how’s that working for you?

Think about a car stuck in snow or mud. The more it spin its wheels, the deeper it sink into the slick mush. When someone finally finds something to put under a wheel, the driver slowly (yes, slowly) applies pressure to the accelerator and the vehicle moves forward. If you feel you are spinning your wheels and only getting further behind, it is time to step away from the accelerator pedal, take a rest and find a new way to make progress, even if it seems slow at first.

Stepping away and taking a walk (several in a day is better) is an effective method of reducing stress. It also clears your mind of the clutter and helps to keep your brain and body working better. The break adjusts your perspective and allows you to let go of less important things that may be adding to your frustration. When you return, you’ll be more relaxed and mentally focused and the chaos around you will not seem as disruptive.

With this new focus, develop a plan for the different activities you need to perform and schedule time on your calendar. Assign specific time each week for managing the numbers. That is, feeding your social networks and other internet outlets. Think of this as housekeeping. Spending a couple of hours per week clears up the clutter and it no longer adds to the stack of stuff for that week.

Find quiet time for your writing where you will not be distracted by the numbers or by the hubbub of holiday activities. Making even small progress during this time will feel like a major accomplishment and that will keep you motivated. Of course, don’t schedule this quiet time to coincide with events, such as your bosses’ open house party. That will only add new things that add to your frustration.

Finally, enjoy the holidays. Plan time for shopping and planning holiday events, and participate fully in open house parties and holiday celebrations. If this means spending a little less time writing for a few weeks, think of it as a well-earned break. Your family and friends will appreciate your presence too. Plan your way to a happy holiday season, relax and write on.