The Ho Ho Ho Writing Tag
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! I can’t believe we’re already at the end of 2018… Does anyone else feel like we just did all of this a few weeks ago? I swear that time keeps going faster and faster. In the spirit of the season, I’m taking a break from holiday preparations and doing the Ho Ho Ho Writing Tag by Kim Chance and Melissa Hope. Christmas is my favorite time of the year, so I’m really excited to participate in this particular tag! (Indirectly tagged by Maverick Moses!)
1. Santa Claus: If you could ask Santa for one thing off of your Author Bucket List, what would you ask for and why?
Mine is kind of a big one, but I would ask for a writing room/office. Having a dedicated space to write, that’s all my own, is a huge dream and I can’t wait until I have the ability to build such a space for myself. The way things are right now, I work in my living room which means that I’m always “available” when I’m writing. I combat it by wearing noise-cancelling headphones, but I still have to point out that I’m working most of the time. It would be really nice to be able to close a door and hang a “do not disturb” sign on it. Or at least be out of the direct route of traffic in the house…
2. The Ghost of Christmas Past: What’s one piece of advice you wish your past self knew about writing, or what advice would you give to fellow aspiring writers?
If writing is your passion, do NOT let anyone talk you out of it! Surround yourself with people who support you and don’t let the naysayers tell you that you can’t or won’t make it. I wasted more than 10 years of my life because I let negative voices tell me that other things were more important than my writing. I wish that I could go back in time and tell my younger self to keep going and have faith in myself. As it is, I can only make up for lost time by throwing myself into my writing and doing as much as I can NOW.
The online writing community has given me invaluable advice and direction since I’ve returned to my author journey. They’ve pointed me to new resources that I didn’t know about before and I wish that I’d found them years ago. If you need some inspiration, or conversation with people who understand your writerly ways, check out the communities on YouTube, Twitter, and other social media sites. There are so many wonderful people out there to talk to and learn from.
To sum up my answer: where there’s a will, there’s a way. You have what it takes to become a published author IF you’re determined, and it’s important to find people who lift you up instead of dragging you down. Writing can be a very lonely profession and not everyone understands or empathizes with the drive to publish. The important thing is to stay true to yourself and do what you know is right for you. Keep moving forward!
3. Elves: Santa has his little helpers. What resource has been the most helpful to you or most invaluable to your writing process?
First and foremost, the AuthorTube community has been a great source of motivation. There are many talented writers/authors who regularly share from their wealth of knowledge on YouTube and, since it’s a free site, it’s an ideal place to learn about the craft. Whether I need advice on drafting or editing, time management tips, or guidance through the whole self-publishing process, I know that I can find something useful on there. In addition, it’s great just to be able to keep up with what my favorite authors are doing.
My favorite resource at the moment is Save the Cat! Writes A Novel by Jessica Brody. I didn’t get a chance to finish it before NaNoWriMo, so I’m working through the rest of it now and it’s fantastic. I’ve gotten so many ideas for my current WIP (and for the new projects that have been percolating in my mind) based on what I’ve read so far. I hope that I’ll be able to share more about what I’ve learned from it in the near future.
4. Gingerbread Cookies: What is your favorite holiday treat? What is your MC’s (from your current WIP) favorite holiday treat?
My favorite holiday treats are eggnog and fudge. That may be cheating on the question a little, but I figure it’s alright since one is food and the other is a beverage. As for my MC, he doesn’t celebrate the same holidays, so his favorite treat doesn’t fall in the same category. If I had to pick something, I think he would probably enjoy something like an apple turnover.
5. Holiday Traditions: What is your favorite family tradition? What fictional character would you like to share that tradition with?
I actually have two. The first is, sadly, becoming harder to experience with each passing year. We used to spend a full evening driving around town to look at all of the Christmas lights, but it seems that fewer and fewer people put them up nowadays. My second favorite tradition happens on Christmas morning. After we open presents, we have a lazy day where we watch tons of Christmas movies, drink hot cocoa, and bake cookies. It’s so nice to let go and relax after the busyness of the season.
My first thought on which character to share it with actually echoes Maverick Moses’s response. I would love to share my Christmas traditions with Harry Potter. From the first book – before he’s really been allowed to be a part of a family. One of the things that I loved in the Sorcerer’s Stone was the (overall) welcome he received in the wizarding world during his first year. It warmed my heart when he realized that he also had presents on Christmas morning because it meant that he was part of someone’s family. Our traditions are pretty simple, but he would find a warm welcome in our home.
6. Star of Bethlehem: What started your journey to write your first book? Has the journey turned out like you imagined? Where would you like to see it go in the future?
I knew that I wanted to write books as soon as I learned to read. I fell in love with stories, and I couldn’t imagine anything else I’d like better than to create my own someday. Naturally, the “books” that I wrote as a child weren’t very impressive, but I wrote quite a number of them as I was growing up. I always knew that I was practicing for the day when I could write for real.
I was 13 when I came up with the idea for my current WIP. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring had just come out in theaters and everyone was talking about it. I started reading the books and was hooked. Fantasy became my new favorite genre and I suddenly had a million new story ideas. For the first time, I sat down and wrote an outline. I knew that I still needed to learn a lot more about the craft, but I finally felt like I had something solid to work with.
The journey has been nothing like what I thought it would be. Life has a funny way of taking you down roads you never thought you would go. Last December, I was frustrated that I’d never made anything of my writing, and I made another half-hearted attempt to find some writing resources online. That’s when I came across Jenna Moreci’s YouTube channel. Somehow, her words bypassed all of my doubt and self-loathing and got me to really WANT to write again.
I’m now 30 years old and have 2 almost finished first drafts of the first 2 books in my fantasy trilogy. I’m still struggling with a few life things, but I’m amazed at how much I’ve been able to accomplish in the space of a year. I’ve made real progress in my books, won 2 versions of NaNoWriMo, built my own website, learned how to create my own book cover, and discovered so much about the writing process that I’d never known before. It’s been an incredible year.
7. The Night Before Christmas: What’s your favorite book to read during the holidays?
I suppose it would actually be The Night Before Christmas. We tend to watch more Christmas stories than read them since it’s such a busy season, and the Night Before Christmas is the only Christmasy book we have. (Probably should do something about that…) I do hope to have things a little more organized next year so that we can read more. With all of the decorations and lights, Christmas provides the perfect cozy environment for curling up with a good book.
8. Christmas Parties: What’s your best advice for juggling writing with the busy holiday season?
I wish that I had a good answer for this question, but I’m writing this at 3 am so you can guess how I’m doing in that area. Honestly, I think preparing for the holidays a few months in advance is the only way to keep up with everything. Too often, December creeps up on us and we’re not ready for it even though we should know better by now. I’ve only had one year where all of my Christmas shopping done by October and everyone was ready for December’s festivities. It hasn’t happened again.
My next suggestion is to find at least 5 minutes a day to write, no matter what. That amount is nothing in the space of a day, but it can make a huge difference when trying to stay motivated. If all you write is 5 minutes, at least you wrote. If you find the momentum to keep going, then you’ve succeeded at doing more than you planned. You win either way. And 5 minute writing sessions are much easier to sneak in throughout the day as well. You can take a quick break from holiday prep, reset your mind a bit, and make a little progress in your book.
9. Polar Express: What writing rituals do you use to transport yourself into the world of your book or mindset of your characters?
I don’t know if I really have rituals, but I do make myself a cup of coffee before I sit down since it helps me focus. I’ll put on my headphones if it’s noisy and I’ll choose some music or a movie that have similar themes to what I’m writing. If it’s a movie, it has to be one that I’ve seen a few times so I’m not distracted by its story. The hardest thing about getting into right mindset is avoiding distractions. It’s when there’s competing noises that I need other sounds to get me in the zone. Generally, I can just sit down and write when the noise level is normal. I do like my coffee though.
10. Sugar and Spice & Everything Nice: In the spirit of spreading kindness and cheer, give a special shout-out to someone who has been instrumental in your writing journey or someone who has really helped you along the way!
I’ve already mentioned Jenna Moreci as a huge reason that I’m writing once again, so I’m going to use this space to shout-out Bethany Atazadeh. She’s the author of the Number Series and The Confident Corgi, and her YouTube videos and social media posts are wonderfully uplifting and informative. She’s super sweet, always has a kind word to say, and I’m so impressed with her work ethic. She motivates me to keep working toward my own goals when I feel like I’m falling behind and I can definitively say that the world needs more people like her in it.