Monday, December 14, 2009

Holiday Stress and the Writer

My guest today, is Romantic Suspense Author, Gina Robinson. Her books are engaging, dialog and characters usually make me laugh. She also builds good suspense. Gina's books are always a fun read.

I like Gina's topic today. Life brings us much stress to begin with, doesn't it? We all need time to de-stress and catch our balance again. If you're a writer, stress can even be harder to deal with, especially as you are now writing to deadlines. I like Gina's take on December and de-stressing. I think I'm going to borrow it. :-)

Just nine more days until Christmas! Has the holiday stress hit you yet? Have you finished your shopping? Done your baking? Mailed your Christmas cards? Put up the tree and the outdoor lights? And, oh, yeah, have you written anything lately?

Whoa! You can stress yourself silly worrying about balancing life, the holidays, and your writing. Here’s how I deal with the added holiday pressure:

First, I’ve accepted that December simply isn’t as productive a month for me as the other eleven, page count-wise, at least. I no longer beat myself up over it. Instead, I embrace it. Knowing I’ll struggle to make my normal daily outputs, I lower my December page count goals and figure them into my yearly writing plan. Be realistic and set reasonable December goals. If you don’t, the guilt will creep back in. And who needs that?

Second, I realize writing can be done anywhere, including in my head. So while I’m not at my computer as much as usual, I’m thinking, plotting, and daydreaming as my mom calls it. From time to time I’ll jot down an idea I don’t want to forget. When January rolls around and I hit the writing full force again, the story should flow right out of my head through my fingers and onto the page. That’s the plan, anyway.

Third, I use holiday activities to hone my skills and recharge. I love the Christmas season. To me, it has a special magic and meaning. The short hours of daylight where I live, the pleasant slant of the low set sun when it shines, and the joy of the season fill me again with childlike hope and wonder. I try to forget reality and let myself dream, really dream big about all the things I’d like to happen with my writing and my life. Just like I used to when I was a kid dreaming about what Santa would bring. This dreaming nourishes my positivity and can-do spirit, which will be so necessary as the new year and reality sets in. So use the magic of the season to recharge yourself, which will help your artistic self thrive.

I love attending holiday parties and gatherings where I connect with family, friends, colleagues—many of whom I don’t see on a regular basis or as often as I’d like. I meet interesting new people I wouldn’t get to know under ordinary circumstances. Hearing about others’ experiences, listening to the way they speak, and observing their mannerisms sharpens my characterization skills. What is it that makes this person so likeable? How has this person managed to survive all that life’s thrown at them this past year? What is it about the way this guy tells a story that makes him the life of the party? So you see, attending parties and social events is writing, too, in a December way.

Fourth, I express my artistic nature in other ways. I love to bake, but most of the year I’m pressed for time. Plus I have a sweet tooth and can’t afford to eat the fruit of my labors like I used to. But this time of year, I indulge in my love of baking. Working in a different medium feeds all parts of the creative spirit.

Finally, I watch all my favorite Christmas movies and there are a ton of them. Every year I think about what makes these stories classics, at least for me. How did the authors of these stories move me? What about these stories makes me want to watch them year after year? Again, I’m honing my craft while enjoying myself.

This season, enjoy yourself rather than beat yourself up. Refill your well for the new year ahead.

  • Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

  • How do you refill your creativity? Do you use the holidays to unwind and recapture your child like wonder of things, so you're fresh for the New year?


Gina Robinson is a native Pacific Northwesterner. She lives in the Greater Seattle area with her husband and children. Gina believes that laughter heals and a sense of humor makes life richer. She brings that philosophy to the way she writes her novels.

4 Stars! Romantic Times BOOKreviews Magazine"Robinson delivers an entertaining story of stalking, spying, secret identities and hidden agendas."

Susan Mobely, Romantic Times BOOKreviews
  • Back Cover Blurb:

Sleepless In Seattle

Reilly Peterson’s been many things in her thirty-two years: an athlete, a model, a sportswear executive. Her ex-boyfriend, however, has done a good job of making Reilly something she’s never been—scared. Now Reilly’s ready to protect herself with more than her sharp tongue. Fantasy Spy Camp’s Seattle-based Urban Ops division will train her to survive using everything from her bare hands to a submachine gun. But when she gets an eyeful of fellow camper Van Keller, all Reilly wants is to chill out, partner up and go deep undercover...

Gina's Website She loves visitors and you can read an excerpt of the book on this site.


~Sia McKye~ said...

Gina, welcome to Over Coffee. I put some of your delishious Christmas goodies on the coffee bar along with some of my own. Lot's of good coffee and tea.

Sit back and enjoy your time with us. :-)

Kat Sheridan said...

Thankfully, this is what I'm calling the "year without deadlines". I'm unemployed after 26 years of year-end deadlines. I'm not yet pubbed, so the writing is not yet a pressure point. I'm taking time to breathe and enjoy and bake and decorate and just let the season sink into my skin as never before. I'm hoing it rejuvinates, re-energizes, and reinvigorates me to start on a brand new year with brand new aspirations!

Sia, I'm adding my special molasses cookies to your offerings. Nothing says Christmas for me like molasses cookies! And yummy coffee!

~Sia McKye~ said...

OMG, I LOVE molasses cookies. If I beg prettily, pay the postage, can I have some?

Your plan sounds like a good one, Kat. Maybe I should consider some of those ideas...

Sherilyn Winrose said...

Gina, I too gave up the notion of being very productive during the holidays. It's my favorite people watching season instead.

Reading, another author, or something of mind almost always recharges my batteries.

Happy Holidays to All

Sherilyn Winrose said...

something of mind= mine. sheesh. I should have had some of Sia's coffee before I posted.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I guess I'm an oddball, because December tends to be a very productive month for me. I think that's in part to the fact it's the one month I have virtually no speaking engagements (so I'm not constantly traveling) and that there's no family close by.

Judi Fennell said...

Well, I did give up Christmas cards this year. I just don't have the time. People who want to hear from me know where to find me and those who don't, well, now they won't have to. LOL.

Sadly, though, there will be no well filling this month for me. The book is due 12/31 and while it's done, I have some big time edits to do. Speaking of which, I'm off. Happy Holidays!

aries18 said...

I usually let December writing go by the wayside. With the holidays there's just too much to do. But I do use my writing time as a good time to read, mostly new authors lately. And to watch some old favorite movies. I now watch and read with a new appreciation for what the author is doing, both a blessing and a curse.

May I please put in an order for some molasses cookies too? I'm not baking so much this year and would love to munch some good molasses cookies. ;o)

Great interview Sia with a lovely talented guest! Have a lovely warm day ladies.

Kat Sheridan said...

Sia and Wanda, molasses cookies are an old family tradition, and are easy-peasy to make. I use the recipe from the Brer Rabbit molasses website (molasses sugar cookies), and use blackstrap molasses to give them a nice, dark "bite". You know me. I prefer everything dark, in both writing and cookies! And sooooo yummy with coffee!

~Sia McKye~ said...

In otherwords, No care package for me, eh Kat? Sigh. I'll look the recipe up.

Wanda, like Gina said, watching movies and figuring out what the author intended, noting dialog and such is still paying attention to the craft of writing. I do the same and with any books I read.

I think December is a hard month for most.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Gina, will there be a third book at Spy School? I think this one is my favorite. A nice way to take charge of your life and defend against a stalker.

SueO said...

I must be up to 2K a day with addressing the Christmas cards! Can I count that in my totals?

Thanks for a marvelous column, Gina! Peace and joy of the season to you and yours.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Uh, Sue, I'm not sure 2k in X-mas cards count...hmmm.

Gina Robinson said...

Thanks for the welcome, Sia and all! My apologies for not getting here sooner.

Gina Robinson said...

I think I need some of those molasses cookies, too. It's been some day. I spent part of it waiting in line to mail packages. But I have to say, the clerk who waited on me was one of the best I've ever had. So friendly and helpful, really full of good spirit.

In answer to your question, I don't have a third spy camp book in the works right now. I do have a spy camp short story coming out in an anthology next spring.

Gina Robinson said...

Judi--Good luck with your deadline! I didn't get Christmas cards mailed out last year, either. This year I made it a priority. But I have to confess, I didn't write a Christmas letter. Just didn't get it done. I made a photo card with pictures of the kids and hoped that told the story.

Do any of the rest of you feel extra stress when writing a Christmas letter because you're a writer? For some reason, I do.

Kat Sheridan said...

Gina, I NEVER do Christmas card letters. I write a short personal note on each card, but that's the extent of it.

Gina Robinson said...

Kat--You put me to shame! I love getting cards with handwritten notes. It seems to me that as a society we're losing the art of handwriting. I myself seem to type almost everything so that my handwriting has become almost illegible.

Gerri Russell said...


Wonderful reminders! As writers we need to be kind to ourselves and our page goals in December. The time spent daydreaming during the month always helps me get going in January.

Looking forward to reading Spy Games in an effort to relax alongside the Christmas tree.

Judith Laik said...

Sometimes it's just best to relax and let the flow of life take you. December has always been one of those times for me. Thanks for your thoughts on this, Gina. I'm looking forward to reading your latest book!

Jamie C. said...

December is doubly busy for me because it's the end of Fall semester. So work is crazier than crazy with students trying to finish up their classes (nothing like procrastination!). I've got a writing deadline mid-January so I've been editing like a fiend - this is new for me and I'm not sure I'm handling it very well. And then of course preparing for the holidays, which I've done so very little that I'm ashamed of myself.

My creative word count is definitely suffering. I find I can edit okay when I'm stressed beyond belief, but actually write new stuff? Uh, no. Good thing I don't have any parties to go to, I guess. :-P

Gina Robinson said...

Thanks for stopping by Gerri and Judy!

Jamie--It sounds like you have a particularly crazy December this year. Don't beat yourself up. Just enjoy the new sensation of deadlines and treat yourself when you can.

Sheila Deeth said...

Been cleaning and baking with my Mum today - a different sort of creativity like you said, but great fun.

Gina Robinson said...

Sia--Thanks for having me as a guest today! I enjoyed it!