Priming the Pump

Jessie: In New Hampshire where the holiday spirit is finally wafting through the house!

christmas-motif-3834860_1920I don’t know about all of you but I have had a hard time getting into the holiday spirit this year. I don’t know if it is the chaos that a new puppy in the house has brought or the fact that my kids are all getting older and most of the things on their Christmas lists are utilitarian or technology and this hold little charm for me as a giver. Whatever the reason, I find I am decidedly in arrears this season.

Usually by now I would have wrapped many, if not most, of the gifts. I would have sent out the cards and would have made several batches of cookies. The gift knitting would be well in hand and so would any other handmade gifts.

But this year I still have a large project on the knitting needles and another yet to be cast on. In fact, I haven’t even decided on the right yarn for the job. I have four pairs of pajama pants that need cutting out and stitching up. I’ve only baked a single batch of cookies, and a small one at that. Not only are the gifts not wrapped, most have still not been purchased.

On Thurdsay I decided to take myself firmly in hand and to apply the same strategy to the holidays that I do to my writing projects. After all, both involve strict deadlines and creativity. As soon as I dropped the aforementioned puppy at the groomer I returned home, turned some holiday music and pulled out a pile of fabrics destined to become a picnic blanket for a dear friend.

When I started snipping and stitching I did not feel inspired. But just like with my writing sessions after a few minutes dedicated to the task the joy of creating took over. Before I knew it the blanket was made. I even felt inspired to do some decorating in my dining room after my sewing session. Who knew how much the writing life could come in handy!

Readers, how do you motivate yourself when you are not feeling enthusiastic about a task at hand? Writers, do you find your writing techniques help you in other parts of your life?


25 Thoughts

  1. Oh, I do understand how hard it is when the kids get older! I really am not the gift card type, at least not to give as the entire present. I like to give something that had me think about what the person would love, something that showed I thought about them. Something from the heart.
    That said, this year does seem to be difficult to get in the holiday spirit. My littlest grandkids came over this past weekend and helped decorate. It is wonderful to see the lights up and the adorable way they decorated the tree.

    1. I hear you about the gift cards. They sort of leave me cold too! Having others to help with the decorating seems to put me in the mood too! My son helped me with a bunch of it and that ended up being fun.

  2. Yes, that sounds familiar! When I’m feeling overwhelmed by responsibilities and commitments, I get moving by thinking, “OK! I’ve got two hours right now, I’ll get as far as I can with xxxxx.” Before I know it, xxxxx is done, a few other jobs are farther along, and I’ve accepted that some of the “I want to” items aren’t necessary at all. Wishing you all a lovely holiday this year!

  3. I’ve been trying to set a timer and commit to just a few minutes…which usually turns into longer once i get in the groove. I’ve also been trying to structure my day better to fit everything in, even if it’s a short period of time.

    1. That’s the thing, isn’t it, Liz? Once you get going stayign in motion is easier. It sounds like we’ve been workign on some of the same sorts of things! I’ve been really committign to a consistent mornign routine lately and it has made a big difference.

  4. Jessie, I understand. I felt a lot like you a week or so ago. Usually my fix is to blast Christmas music while baking. Unfortunately, the football game was on last night so the tune-blasting will have to wait until the next batch of cookies.

    1. Music is a real motivator, isn’t it? I’ve learned the hard way not to watch Scandinavian crime shows while trying to run on my treadmill. The background music is usually so melancholy that I find my feet dragging!

  5. We usually know exactly what we’re getting since the adults in the family seem to get the same thing every year. I get my Mom books and my brother takes her to see a show. AC Moore and Amazon gift cards for my SIL and brother. They get my boyfriend and I a gift card to our favorite B&B. My Mom who’s 91 asks me what I want and then has me order it for myself. I works and everyone gets something they like.

  6. When I’m having a hard time motivating myself for a task (like when I know I need to do some deep cleaning on the floors), I schedule it. I actually write it on my to do list as something that HAS to be done like going to pick up prescriptions. I’m pretty good with my to do list. Although life happens and something may be moved from today to tomorrow it gets done. Plus if I back it up with telling hubby that this is what is going to happen tomorrow then my plans are less apt to get changed AND he’s there to help me any way he can. That also helps to get ‘r’ done.

    I usually avoid a lot of the rush and hustle of Christmas shopping by picking up things through the year. that’s especially handy when you live in a small and remote town where winter weather may play a part in whether you can go shopping or not. Not possible I know with the young people who change their mind with the tends some times, but that’s when gift cards are a blessing made personal with some baked goods or a craft project. By doing all this, then hopefully a lot of the pressure is eliminated making the holiday season more stress free and relaxing.

    When all else fails, I turn on the Christmas music, hubby and I head to the kitchen for some baking and before you know it I’ve found my holiday cheer. 🙂
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  7. The grandkids have reached an age where they want money. for Christmas. Only one left to really “buy” for. It has had a strange effect on getting into the prepping for the holidays. It feels a little disconnected since it isn’t my regular routine. However, because of that, I don’t have much to shop for nor to sit at the table for hours to wrap.
    So our annual Christmas Project got underway and, lo and behold, I have already thought of one for next year. As my grandchildren get older, I have had to be more creative in thinking of one and the projects become increasingly more work on their parts. This year’s is a photo album of them(all 6) to build for their great-grandmother. Each is responsible for a minimum of two pages of themselves a couple of group sibling pictures and family pictures. That project stimulates the process better than any other way I can think of to get me moving!

  8. Sounds like you are getting there. But I guess I can’t ask you to come to CA and help me wrap gifts. That was supposed to start over the weekend, and it hasn’t happened yet.

  9. I’ve scaled back the Christmas decorations to the point of just having a tree and a few outside lights. It’s boring. I’ve already bought a lot of new outdoor lights for next year and plan on doing more indoor decorating then, too. I got all the cards out early and have already wrapped most of the presents. I realized some years ago that getting things done too early takes the excitement out of the season. It was necessary this year to do things early, but I feel that it is all over already. I really looking forward to our daughter getting here on Wednesday. She will bring the joy back just by being here.

    As to getting things done, TBD lists are a must. I also promise myself that as soon as I finish reading THIS chapter (or whatever) I will go do the (fill in the blank). And I really hold myself to it. Once I get started I generally keep going for hours so I get a lot done.

    Now about those Christmas cookies I”m suppose to make for a meeting tonight….. 😉

    1. Timing for hoilday spirit is tricky, isn’t it? The kids being home always makes it feel festive here too. I hope you have a wonderful holiday with your daughter!

  10. As a reader, I do my tasks at hand and then I REWARD myself, AFTER their done, and hunker down in the corner of my couch with one or all of my 4 cats, and READ a chapter or two.
    As a writer, it is a different story. I have to write first thing in the morning, and with our impending move to Massachusetts….that has been put on hold. Once the house is realtor ready, and the pictures are taken, back to work I will go with a coffee at my right hand!!

  11. I TRY to put things on the calendar and do them on time, but if it doesn’t get done, it doesn’t get done. Up, dressed, and responsive are three major goals and I accomplish them almost every day, even if sometimes (like today) the response is a couple weeks late because the backlog is huge (16,628). From the perspective of eternity, most of what we do is inconsequential, but we are only human and need to remember that to the person in front of us the present moment might be a VERY big deal. Take a breath, let it out, and be the best YOU you can be.

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