Writing Over The Holidays

by Rachel Hauck

It’s the holiday season and if you’re anything like me, you’re busy. In fact, you’re probably more busy than I am because I don’t have children.

I have a book due and it’s overshadowing the Christmas season. But it’s not the deadline’s fault, it’s how I write. I fast draft a very ugly novel, then I rewrite. Almost from scratch. I layer and fine tune, change and deepen.

I write fast but nevertheless, it takes me a while to think things through. To figure things out. To take the norm and turn it upside down, inside out.

When I calculate how many pages I can rewrite and edit a day, and how many days until the deadline, adding in a visit from a friend and a short visit attached to a business trip, I come up a wee bit short. I can’t afford to take off the holiday!

But I’m going to anyway because despite how much I love writing and how much I am bound by honor to make my deadline, there are moments when “other things” are more important.

Ack, I know. From a writer’s perspective, what is more important? It’s taken me eight years to admit it’s okay to take a break for family, for a vacation or for other worthwhile causes like ministry or even lunch with friends.

But did you now the Lord gives to His beloved in seasons and times of rest? He does!

Psalm 127

Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat for he grants sleep to those he loves.Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him.Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth.Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.

The Lord impressed this verse upon me the other day. He proved His Word true by the fact that when I awoke from a brief nap, I had the perfect opening line for my rewrite!

Then a pastor friend talked at dinner the other night about “rest” and letting the Lord use him even in a season of rest.

It’s hard for most of us to step back and not do. We feel like it’s more holy and Christian. Or it’s the American way. We may even feel like we don’t know what to do with the rest and quiet.

Maybe we should learn to get used to it. God does want us to rest. He blesses rest. Especially when we rest in and on the Him.

I know that when we writers are not at our computers working, no one covers for us. If I don’t get my 20 pages done, a co-writer isn’t going to take up my slack.

But wait, if the Lord is my co-writer, maybe… just maybe… He will make up the difference. So I can enjoy time with my family over Christmas.

So if you’re debating writing over Christmas, reconsider. At least for a day or two. Trust the Lord to take up the slack, give you words and story in your rest.

Now do what your therapist says… Enjoy Christmas!

JOY!!

TWEETABLES
New York Times, USA Today ​and Wall Street Journal best-selling, award-winning author Rachel Hauck loves a great story. She serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers. She is a past ACFW mentor of the year.  A worship leader and Buckeye football fan, Rachel lives in Florida with her husband and ornery cat, Hepzibah. Read more about Rachel at www.rachelhauck.com.

You’re a Lousy Gift Giver (And So Am I)

by James L. Rubart


This is the season for gift exchanges. But isn’t that an oxymoron? 

  • A gift is something given with no expectation of anything in return.
  • An exchange is when I give you something, you give me something back. 

Confession Time


I’ve had times where I’ve given friends gifts at Christmas and not received one in return and it hurt a bit. You too? Whew. Nice to know I’m not alone.

Jesus had a few thoughts about giving: In Luke 14 he says, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid.”


What? I’m not supposed to get something back?

A number of years ago a friend of mine gave a secret scholarship so a writer could attend the Mt Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference. She says it’s a treasured memory, primarily because she gave it without any possibility of the person giving anything in return. Hmmm, I think there’s a lesson here.

Dying To Self

When we truly die to self or maybe better said, fully align ourselves with Christ (not not the easiest task) we’re able to give from a full heart with no expectation of what will come back to us. There is such freedom and joy in that! 

An Idea


No matter how long you’ve been on this writing journey, there are people ahead of you. And no matter how short, there are people behind you. So go crazy, and take a moment to tell that person ahead of you how much they have inspired you. That is a significant gift.

Then turn around and take a moment to tell that writer a few paces behind you how you believe in them, and to grab onto hope and never let go. That too is an incredible gift.

Because deep inside, whether we’re a bestseller, or are just starting our first novel, we are an insecure lot who wonder if we matter, wonder if we have worth. And the gift of encouragement we can give each other is worth more than gold.

TWEETABLES

You’re a Lousy Gift Giver (And So Am I) by James L. Rubart (Click to Tweet)

I’m not supposed to get something back?~ James L. Rubart (Click to Tweet)

Take a moment to tell a person how much they have inspired you~ James L. Rubart (Click to Tweet)

James L. Rubart is 28 years old, but lives trapped inside an older
man’s body. He thinks he’s still young enough to water ski like a madman and
dirt bike with his two grown sons, and loves to send readers on journeys
they’ll remember months after they finish one of his stories. He’s the
best-selling, Christy BOOK of the YEAR, INSPY, and RT Book Reviews award
winning author of eight novels as well as a professional speaker. During
the day he runs his branding and marketing company which helps businesses,
authors, and publishers make much more coin of the realm. He lives with
his amazing wife on a small lake in eastern Washington. More at www.jameslrubart.com

Wishing I Could be Jesus

 by Marcia Lee Laycock


I recently attended a funeral for a young man who died too soon, leaving a wife and three young girls. The sadness overwhelms at times and it makes me wish I could be Jesus, especially now, at Christmas time, just for a few minutes, just long enough to say, as He did, “arise.”

But then, I realize that He doesn’t need me to do His work for Him. He has already done it. He has already said that wondrous, mysterious word and brought that young man into His kingdom, given him time to have a productive, full life here on this earth, and then brought Him home, to the place where he has wanted to be, as a believer in Christ.

Often things don’t seem right to us. The world seems off kilter and full of so much pain and suffering it overwhelms us at times. And we want to be Jesus. We want to snap our fingers and make it all better. But He has already been at work. He has a plan for this earth, for each one of us, a plan that goes far beyond what we could ever imagine. He told the Hebrew people that, when they were in circumstances that were full of pain and suffering – their captivity in Babylon. Living as slaves, they no doubt often cried out to God to bring them relief from all the suffering and pain they saw around them.

This was His answer – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:11-13).

Sometimes, in my writing, I try to be Jesus. I try to erase all the pain and sorrow and make the world a better place, a more pleasant place. An admirable purpose, perhaps, but does it serve my readers? Does it serve them to deny the pain that Jesus has allowed in the world? Would it not be better to show how we can all move beyond that pain?

Would it not be better to show them how to look up? Would it not be good to remind them that when we see all those decorated Christmas trees, we should look for the star or the angel on the top, and know Jesus is with us?

Would it not be an encouragement to show them how to look around and see there are others who are struggling, and nudge them to reach out?

Would it not be best to direct them how to look ahead, to know that Jesus has promised a bright future, and given us a way to know we are secure in his hand, even in the worst of times?

Yes, there are times I wish I could be Jesus. And there are times I write as though I am. But then I remember – He is the Messiah, the Living God, our hope and our comfort and we can survive anything with Him at our side. If I strive to portray that reality in my writing I will have done my job well.

Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central
Alberta Canada where she is a pastor’s wife and mother of three adult
daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award
for her novel, One Smooth Stone. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone, was also short
listed for a Word Award. Marcia has three novels for middle grade readers and four
devotional books in print and has contributed to several anthologies. Her work
has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark
Buchanan.

Her
most recent release is Christmas, a collection of short stories that will take you from the far reaches of the galaxy to the streets of an inner city and the cold landscape of the far north. In every setting the Christmas Spirit is alive and well. Now available on Amazon in paperback and ebook form.

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up to receive her devotional column, The
Spur

3 Gifts to Give a Writer for Christmas

by Patty Smith Hall @PattyWrites

The other day, my husband asked me that dreaded question that always pops up this time of year-what do you want for Christmas? That always a difficult question for me to answer as I’m very content with our life and don’t have many wants. Yet, the more I pondered the question, the more I realized that there were a few items on my Christmas list that other writers might appreciate as well.

Time: Life is busy, and it only seems to get busier. When our girls were young, I always thought I’d have more time to write, and I do to a certain extent. But even now that they’re grown with lives of their own, I find myself busy with aging relatives and grandchildren as well as speaking and church obligations. There’s nothing wrong with those things—they are what make life worthwhile. But when the agenda is binge-watching The Walking Dead or The Gilmore Girls, or six hours of football, I get antsy, like I’ve left something undone. Which means I get up at the crack of dawn or stay up passed midnight just to put words to papers. So what can the family of a writer give that would help? A little of their time. Throw in a load of laundry. Make dinner. Run errands. And not just once—make a habit of it. Giving your writer time to write is one of the best presents they’ll ever receive.

Encouragement: When I first started writing, my husband thought of it as my little hobby, something I’d do until I got bored with it. Then he saw me pouring time and money into learning the craft; he came across pieces of paper where I wrote and rewrote segments; he ate dinner alone on those nights I was with my writing group. As I grew as a writer, he became my biggest fan. But that’s not the case with everyone. Some spouses resent the time and money spent writing. I’ve heard horror stories over the years of discouraging family members that break my heart. How painful that must be to that writer’s soul! that b b a writer’s soul! Most writers I know(myself included) are already critical of our writing almost to the point of depression. So to hear someone we love heap hot coals on this area of our lives just makes us feel worse. So this Christmas, try giving the gift of encouragement. It doesn’t have to be much—a simple ‘I’m proud of you’ or I believe you can write that book or article or blog post’ can make all the difference in the world.

Prayer: This may seem silly to some—I mean, why would anyone pray over words being written? Because those words, that manuscript is important to someone you love. The dream of writing is a part of who they are, and their dreams should matter to you. Knowing that my husband prays for me and my writing daily tells me he’s taking an active role in in making my dreams of publication come true. It’s changed his outlook on my writing too. Where once he viewed it as income, he now sees it as my ministry, my calling for this season in my life. And I’ve got to say, I love him all the more for it.

Three simple things you can give that will make your writer more productive and grow your relationship—a Christmas gift to the both of you!

TWEETABLES


3 Gifts to Give a Writer for Christmas by Patty Smith Hall (Click to Tweet) 

Giving a writer time to write is one of the best presents~ Patty Smith Hall (Click to Tweet) 


A Christmas gift to the both of you~ Patty Smith Hall (Click to Tweet) 

Patty Smith-Hall is a multi-published, award-winning author with Love Inspired Historical/Heartsong and currently serves as president of the ACFW-Atlanta chapter. She currently lives in North Georgia with her husband of 30+ years, Danny; two gorgeous daughters and a future son-in-love. Her next release, New Hope Sweethearts will be available in July on Amazon.