Monday, December 23, 2013

Valerie's Rules for Winter

Happy Holidays! And welcome to longer days now that we've passed the solstice. More time to write--well, a few minutes per day at least!

For the coming New Year I've decided to make myself some "rules," ways to stay energized during those extra minutes when I'd much rather pull the covers over my head and hibernate until spring. Here are my top 12:
  1. Morning pages. 3 handwritten pages first thing in the morning are easy to write in the spring and summer, torture in the winter. Which is why I need to shift my schedule just a little bit. Instead of giving up, or stumbling around in the dark hating every minute of the exercise, I'm going to write my pages during my morning tea-break. It will be something to look forward to every day, and a good use of my spare time.
  2. Write up my goals for 2014 step-by-step. Every year I set at least 5-6 new goals for the year. What I usually bypass is how I'm going to achieve those goals. In the past I've relied too much on hope and magic: hope that I'll get it done, and wishing for a fairy godmother to wave her magic wand and make things happen. This year if I can't list a number of practical, sensible ways to achieve a goal it goes in the trash.
  3. Read good books. My reading time is limited. If a book bores me halfway through or I think it's just too silly for words, I have no obligation to finish it. The End.
  4. Drink cocoa. A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down. 'Nuff said.
  5. Take artist's dates. I am so bad about NOT taking my planned artist's dates. 2013 saw me make at least a dozen or more plans to visit museums, galleries, specialty shops . . . they all fell through. I told myself I was too busy, I would go "tomorrow," I would make up for it by taking two dates in a row, who needs artist's dates anyway . . .  No more procrastination.
  6. Be crafty: knit, sew, crochet. A few years ago I accidentally bought 5 times the amount of yarn I needed to knit my husband a sweater. (OK, math never was my strong point). 2014 is the year that stuff turns into some more outfits, or maybe a blanket or two! I also want to buy a new sewing machine to make a dress from the fabric I bought at Mood in April.
  7. Walk. Although I try to walk as much as possible whenever I have to accomplish errands (the mall, grocery stores, etc.), nothing compares to going for real walks in the real outdoors. Albuquerque has many beautiful parks just waiting for me to stretch my legs, clear my head, and take some photos while I'm there for future art references.
  8. Wear gloves, bundle up. It's taken me several years to realize that if I want to enjoy a winter walk, I will have to wear the right clothes. A light cardigan won't do! I suppose in the past I went without gloves or a hat thinking I would get too hot and then I'd have to carry everything home. This has never happened.
  9. Be a Secret Santa regardless of the date. Giving doesn't stop at Christmas. One of my favorite ways to help out is to always maintain a donation jar or tin for coins all year long. At the end of every day I place my spare change in the jar. It's amazing--and fun--to see how that money adds up!
  10. Make soup. There's something so healing and comforting about soup for lunch or dinner in the winter time. Not only is soup ridiculously easy to prepare, it seems to go a long way, leaving plenty of leftovers for those nights when cooking is the last thing anyone wants to do.
  11. Plan a new manuscript. But don't actually write it--at least not until my current WIP is completely finished and ready to submit. To that end I am going to have a dedicated notebook just for ideas for the next novel. Only ideas and notes. No actual scenes, no freewriting "just for fun." The notebook will be at my side as I work on the WIP so I can jot down any ideas that come to me, but that's all I'll do: jot, jot, jot, and then back to the WIP.
  12. Dream about summer vacation! Catalogs, travel magazines, and brochures make great resources for collaging a visual summer treasure map. And most of them are free. Where will we go?
Tip of the Day: Christmas is just one day of the year, but that's no reason to turn into the Grinch on the 26th. Do something special for yourself and someone else every day--and then write about it. Merry Christmas, one and all--see you again in 2014!

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