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Sunday, December 5, 2010

5 Things I Learned about Writing From Santa Claus

Mr. Claus is a wise man.  In fact, when it comes to important things like making toys or writing books (which are almost the same thing, really) he is the head honcho, zen master, Dumbledore and Obi-Wan Kenobi all rolled into one.  I myself have had the privilege to spend some time hanging out with the Big Man, and he's given me some secret tips on toy-making, writing and life.  In the spirit of holiday sharing, I now pass these on to you.

1) Isolate yourself.  The man in the red suit definitely knows something about productivity.  Imagine making and delivering toys for all the good little children of the world.  That takes serious commitment.  The only way he manages to get everything done is because he makes his home on the most desolate real estate the world has to offer.  Writers too should follow his lead and engage in some major alone time now and again.  It helps us stay focused.

2) Surround yourself with good people.  OK, so maybe in Santa's case these happen be people with pointy ears and twirly-whirly shoes, but they're still pretty darn awesome.  The truth is, Santa would get nowhere if it weren't for his toy-making comrades, and writers would suffer the same fate if they didn't have buddies to help them stay sane.  These are the people who read our work, keep us motivated and let us know when we're being a little bit crazy.  We all need them, and need to let them know how much they're appreciated.

3) Do it for love.  No one in their right mind would dedicate his life to making and distributing toys unless he was seriously committed to his mission.  I mean, how thankless is Santa's job?  He makes all the loot, flies it around the world in his sleigh and then on Christmas morning, the kids are all: "Thanks Mom and Dad!"  Go figure.  The only way he can make sense of it all is to do it out of love.  The same is true for writers.  Write for love or don't write at all.

4) Sometimes you have to be a little bit in denial.  A while ago, I interned at a literary agency because I wanted to understand how publishing worked.  After spending each day reading the slush pile, I couldn't help feeling a little discouraged as a writer, not because the stuff I was reading was horrible but because it was so gosh-darn good.  And I still had to reject it.  I realized that to stay motivated, I had to preserve the illusion that I could make it to the finish line some day.  Just as Santa has to be in denial about certain things ("Yes, I will fit down this chimney"), I needed to give myself permission to be jolly and optimistic or I would spend all my time criticizing my own work and never get any writing done.

5) After a hard day's work, have some milk and cookies.   Santa is a smart man.  He knows that he needs a little recharging snack during the long haul of Christmas Eve, so he makes time for milk and cookies after each stop.  We writers also need to remember to be good to ourselves.  So go ahead and have some milk and cookies.  Or give yourself an at-home spa day.  Or buy yourself a pair of super-comfy socks.  Whatever you do, just make sure it's something that will make you feel special and cared for.

In the end, I think Santa's advice applies pretty much to any calling in life, whether you're writing a book or making toys or trading stocks or building a space ship.  It's all about staying jolly.

What about you?  What pearls of wisdom has Santa left in your stocking? 

9 comments:

Tara Maya said...

Ho ho ho, what good advice from the jolly elf. :D

Jolene Perry said...

I am all for cookies at the end of a long day of writing. That was clever.

KarenG said...

This was awesome! I am RTing right now!

Joanna St. James said...

found this from karen's tweet checking his list twice (edit, edit and edit)

Ann Best said...

If we write, we should definitely enjoy what we're doing! And being jolly would help!!

I also just read your previous post about the Google Reader. I tried it once but it confused me. You've convinced me I should try it again!!
Ann Best, A Long Journey Home

Melissa said...

What a Great Post! Finding joy in everything we do is what life is all about! Thanks for the reminder!! :)

catdownunder said...

And we cats know from Santa's cat that it is important to purr at life.

Jenn said...

Awesome post! Don't forget, Santa deals with rejection all the time, and yet keeps on delivering those toys...

Kerrie said...

Fabulous post. I love the last one--can I make mine wine and chocolate?

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