Trying to stay focused and on task during the four weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas (five if you include New Year’s) can be a real challenge. If you established writing goals on January 1, you are rapidly running out of time to complete them and the knowledge that time is slipping away while you are distracted by, oh, I don’t know, family, faith, charity and goodwill can really make you question your decision to take up writing at all.
Or perhaps you have already resigned yourself to the season and as penance engage in self flagellating behavior like negative self-talk (What made you think you could finish a first draft? You’re just making a fool of yourself, calling yourself a writer. Bah! Humbug!). Regardless of where you are in your 2014 goals, or where you wind up, strict adherence to a writing schedule is perhaps not the most important consideration. Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray Love) has this to say:
“As for discipline–it’s important, but sort of over-rated. The more important virtue for a writer, I believe, is self-forgiveness. Because your writing will always disappoint you. Your laziness will always disappoint you. You will make vows: “I’m going to write for an hour every day,” and then you won’t do it. You will think: “I suck, I’m such a failure. I’m washed up.” Continuing to write after that heartache of disappointment doesn’t take only discipline, but also self-forgiveness.”
So in the spirit of giving and charity, give a little charity to yourself. And if indulging yourself is a challenge in and of itself, FiLMLaB has some suggestions:
- Show your support for indie films by watching one. Whiplash, made for 3.3 million by Bold Films is already making noise as one of the best films of the year and is still in theaters. Or check out Blue Ruin, made for a tenth of the price and took home a win from Cannes (now streaming on Netflix).
- Indulge in a themed movie marathon of your choosing: Marvel, Batman, Lord of the Rings, Twilight, Toy Story, Godzilla, or, if you’re like me, any movie where Hugh Jackman takes his shirt off.
- Buy yourself a MoviePass for $30 bucks and see as many movies you want for a month.
- Sign up for a writing class in advance of the new year. Cynthia Whitcomb‘s 6 week Screenwriting Class is open for enrollment and an excellent opportunity to learn the fundamentals and revitalize your writing (even novelists will benefit from the class).
- Host your writing group for cocktails, cookies or caroling, and indulge in the friendships you’ve created with kindred spirits.
- Reserve a room at WW’s Cynthia Whitcomb Writers House in West Linn. There are six rooms to choose from at a mere $10 a day and they offer a peaceful place to in which to write your story.
- Take in a holiday movie (you might normally watch at home) at an independent local theater: Laurelhurst, Kiggins, Columbia, Mission, Academy are all offering some of your favorites: Home Alone, Polar Express, Elf, Christmas Vacation, etc. Invite a friend. Buy popcorn. Have fun.
- Sign up for FiLMLaB’s low cost workshop on January 10th. Not only will you get great tips on short form writing, you will meet lots of new writers to engage with and expand your creative family. Only $15 for WW members, and $20 for nonmembers.
- Participate in the season by donating to the groups that support your creativity, or by volunteering in those associations where writers are helping other writers.
- Write a short story about the holidays; the best, the worst, the stress, the bliss, the food–whatever speaks to you. Write a few pages and consider sharing it with your friends and family.
Even if you’re feeling the crunch as the days count down, soak up what’s happening around you and let it nourish you. As writers we are constantly pushed, pushed, pushed, pushed to create, create, create. Newer, faster, before anyone else, rush, rush, rush. We are very good at draining the creative wellspring that we draw from, but not very good at filling it up. These few weeks at the end of 2014 are a great time to allow yourself some guilt free indulgences.