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I Think I Lost my Writing Mojo in the Turkey

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I begin with a deep bow. A deep bow to you, courageous Nanowrimo-ers, for plowing on—and for using all the words I can’t find. I just can’t seem to muster the strength to write. I can barely focus. My brain is made of eggnog and Figgie pudding, and I think my insides are slowly turning to brown sugar and butter. All I can think about is which fantastic holiday goodie I should bake, which cheesy holiday movie I’m going to watch, and the endless sales that are begging me to buy all the things. I find myself wondering how long I can hide in the bathtub with a book, or how long I can go without laundry (we’re down to the swimsuits and bathrobes now).

In fact, I’ve been staring at this blank page for days, trying to summon the energy to draft a blog post for my beloved Writer Unboxed community. That’s how bad it is. So I figured I should follow the famous advice we’ve all heard a million times and write what I know. Well, here it is.

I know that my holiday list of chores is long but enjoyable. I know that I’ve worked extremely hard and at lightning speed all year on three different projects—and I’m tired. My brain wants to hibernate for awhile. And yet, developmental edits just arrived on my desk for one project, and copy edits for another are coming before Christmas. Then there’s my WIP that is in desperate need of attention. It’s been calling my name, nagging me to come back and bring the love.

But, but…Love Actually is on and also my daughter reallllly needs those llama slippers. (I’d better run and get them before they’re gone, don’t you think? Maybe my son would like the Zelda Switch game. Oh, and my husband definitely needs a new Red Sox hat…)

The fact of the matter is, I have wicked holiday torpor.

The week before Thanksgiving it invaded my body and now, every ounce of will power seems to be seeping away. A conundrum to be sure. So I’ve decided I need an optimistic, positive spin on my holiday sloth, because that’s  who I am, and that’s what helps me get back to the page. Eventually. For those who are feeling the same way I am, maybe we can do this together. I’ll give you a little advice and you leave me some in the comments? We have to get back to the page, after all, right?

1. Don’t beat yourself up, unless it’s with candy canes. Because if you’re going to berate yourself, you might as well be minty fresh. Seriously, you may just need a break. Plus, aren’t the holidays supposed to be enjoyed? Do it. Enjoy them. No more fussing and belittling yourself. Unfocused work is like two steps forward and one step back, anyway, so take time off when it’s needed.

2. Work in small bite-sized chunks of chocolate.  Don’t fight the chocolate covered cherry urges. Instead, have a couple with a cup of tea and choose a few small tasks that you know you can accomplish that day, and leave it at that. The turtle wins the race, after all.

3. Stand like a Nutcracker solider while writing, instead of sitting.  I mean, you can relax your shoulders and stuff, and you don’t need to smile like you’ve ingested a bunch of speed, but stand up! Sitting down all day makes me tired, listless, longing for a nap. Standing, on the other hand, helps keep me energized and focused. It sounds counter-intuitive, but there’s something about the blood flow to the brain that works better this way. Give it a go. If you don’t have a standing desk, use a counter top.

And that’s all I’ve got.

Are you feeling me? Do you have holiday torpor?

I’d love to hear your suggestions about how to focus during the holidays. Bonus for funny anecdotes. Also, have a lovely holiday season, friends. I’ll see you next year!

About Heather Webb

Heather Webb is the international bestselling author of historical novels Becoming Josephine, Rodin’s Lover, The Phantom’s Apprentice, and Last Christmas in Paris: A Novel of WWI. In 2015, Rodin’s Lover was a Goodread’s Top Pick, and in 2017, Last Christmas in Paris became a Globe & Mail Bestseller. To date, Heather’s books have sold in multiple countries worldwide, received national starred reviews, and have been featured in print media including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Weekly, and more.

As a freelance editor, Heather has helped over two dozen writers sign with agents, and go on to sell at market. She may also be found teaching craft courses at a local college. When not writing, Heather feeds her cookbook addiction, geeks out on history and pop culture, and looks for excuses to head to the other side of the world.


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About Mary Ellen Bellusci

Mary Ellen Bellusci is a longtime resident of Baltimore, Maryland... A foodie, traveler, writer, and pursuer of happiness.