Monday, November 30, 2015

What Do Writers Have in Common With Squirrels?

By Andrea Merrell

Winter is definitely upon us. The colorful days of autumn are gone, and Christmas is fast approaching. The days are shorter—at least they seem that way with fewer daylight hours—and we have to reprioritize our activities.

So, what does that have to do with writers and squirrels, you might be thinking.

Squirrels spend the entire spring, summer, and fall months collecting seeds and nuts, storing them away for the days ahead. They also collect various materials to make their nests cozy and secure. They make sure they have everything they need to survive the long, cold winter. They don’t waste a thing.

This season of the year tends to keep us inside longer. Outside activities are limited—unless you love bitter-cold temps. There aren't many conferences or workshops to attend at this time. We enjoy sitting by the fireplace with a hot, steaming mug and a book in our hand. We spend more time baking, cleaning, and planning for the holidays. Once Christmas is over and January makes an appearance, the days can seem dreary and possibly unproductive.

May I suggest that, just like the squirrel, we can prepare for the days of winter and catch up on projects that have remained unfinished and untouched for months? If you’re like me, these are the projects on your to-do list that keep getting ignored or sent to the bottom of the stack. I’m sure there are a dozen things that come to mind … things large and small that you have been meaning to do. Let’s look at a few.

This is a hard task for most writers. We tend to think our time is best spent writing—not cleaning. I find that when my desk is clean and my files organized, I think more clearly and my writing is better. It’s like cooking in a dirty kitchen; can’t do it.

This is another area that’s difficult to manage. It’s very discouraging to click on your inbox and see dozens (sometimes hundreds) of unread e-mails. Discipline yourself to check them often, then either delete them or create a file for the important ones you will need to refer back to.

Are you behind on your blog posts? Now is the time to think ahead and be prepared. Some people post every day, others once a week. It’s always a blessing to have a few posts ahead in case something comes up and life happens. This is also a good time to invite other writers to do a guest blog post for your site. Having a file to pull from will save you from a lot of stress.

There are always contests available throughout the year. This is a good time to venture out and submit your stories. Vonda Skelton gives a list of opportunities once a month. If you haven’t signed up for her blog, check it out at

Writers’ conferences are exciting and full of opportunities for us to grow in our craft. It’s easy to come home with a bag full of books, outlines, business cards, bookmarks, and handouts, thinking you will sit down right away and go through what you have collected. Then you get busy, and those items go in a stack or drawer and may never see the light of day again. Plan some quality time to pull out these items and go through them. Toss what you don’t want to keep and put the rest to good use. This is also a great time to catch up with people you have met. Send a card or  e-mail to stay in touch.

Take a look at your bookshelf (Kindle, iPad, or e-Reader) and all the books you have been collecting. This is a great time to catch up with some of your favorite authors (by that cozy fireplace). When you do, give them a wonderful Christmas gift by posting a review of their book on Amazon.

For the writer, writing is always a priority. It’s what we do. It’s who we are. Pull out that novel that’s been tucked away and give it some life. Maybe you’ve been waiting to try a devotion, article, or short story. Whatever God has placed in your heart, go for it.

Those are only a few suggestions for making the most of long, winter days. What suggestions would you add? We would love to hear from you.

(Photos courtesy of Barker/Sira Anamwong and



  1. Thanks for the mention of my monthly writing opportunities, Andrea. I love helping other writers by putting opportunities at their fingertips and then hear that they're reap the rewards!

    1. My pleasure, Vonda. Thanks for being such a blessing to others. :)


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