Joy to the (Writer’s) World!

The Christmas season is upon us. A time of delight and good cheer. A time overflowing with laughter, when we’re restored to carefree children filled with wonder. Right?

Um…not so much.

In fact, a number of folks have said how frustrated they are, how they’re behind on everything, and overwhelmed with all they should be doing. After all, it’s Christmas! And if they don’t get things done, Christmas will be ruined!!

Um…again, not so much.

Because—and you all know this, deep in your little over-achiever hearts—Christmas isn’t about decorations or shopping or baking or cards or any of the multitudes of things we have on our To-Do lists. It’s about the state of our hearts. It’s about keeping our focus on what truly matters this time of year:






…and so very much more. But what it’s NOT about are the expectations and “must-do” lists that we put on ourselves. Those things just end to steal our joy.

As I pondered all this today, it occurred to me that writers have a tendency to put expectations and “must-do” lists on themselves not just at Christmas, but year-round. We tell ourselves we’re not being faithful to the call if we’re not:

Building a platform

Meeting a word count

Attending writers’ conferences

Speaking Teaching Promoting Making money

      …and countless other things we’re either being told or telling ourselves we HAVE to do.

But as with the expectations and lists of Christmas, these things have the tendency to steal a writer’s joy. Too often, we writers get so tangled in all the “must dos” that we lose sight of what’s really important:

Doing the task God has given us

Crafting words steeped in His truth and spirit

Sharing the message He’s given us with a weary, terrified world

…and so much more.

So this Christmas season, may I make a request? Will you set aside your lists and expectations, both of the season and of yourself as a writer? Will you set aside time to savor what is all around you…

The wonder in a child’s eyes

The warmth of home and family

The beauty of lives changed because of what God has asked you to write

…and, you guessed it, so much more.

There’s joy in the season, friends. And in the task of writing for the Master. Don’t let “stuff” keep you from taking that joy and embracing it. Instead, let it wash over you and restore you. Spend quiet time focusing on what matters, and let the other things go. Christmas—and writing—are not about doing it all. Not really. They’re about being present in the moments God brings us, savoring Him and all He’s given, letting grace overflow in our hearts and spirits, and then, when we’ve been filled by Him, sharing all that with others.

Merry Christmas—and happy writing!



19 Responses to Joy to the (Writer’s) World!

  1. Jackie Layton December 17, 2014 at 5:04 am #

    Hi Karen,

    Merry Christmas!

    As my husband and I drove home from visiting my parents on Thanksgiving, we decided to not let all the ‘things’ of Christmas steal our joy. (This included extended family conflicts. Ha.)

    We’ve worked hard to keep our eyes on Jesus. One thing that was overwhelming was wrapping the Christmas gifts. So yesterday I paid a college girl to wrap them for me. I organized the gifts with sticky notes, and she wrapped while I was at work. You can’t imagine what a relief it was to have that accomplished.

    As far as writing, I struggle with the amount of time I spend on my blog and building my platform. I’m going to think about your advice. Thanks!

    • Jenelle. M December 17, 2014 at 1:03 pm #

      Jackie, what a great tip about having someone wrap your presents! It doesn’t seem hard, but I am horrible at it. I misjudged my measurements, the sides are always lumpy, and my tape never seems to go on straight and stick where it should. I actually got reported to management when I was 16 and worked part-time at a retail store. I was immediately removed from gift wrapping and while I have constant practice over many years, I cannot conquer the blasted sides!

      Karen, SLAP! that is my high five to you. Thank you for the joyful perspective on this time of year and on story. To your request I say YES! 🙂

      • Jackie Layton December 17, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

        Hi Jenelle,

        If we ever meet in person, I’ll show you a secret to getting the sides just right. I can do it, but at the end of the gift wrapping session, my back hurts. I’m so glad I skipped it this year. Plus I helped give a college girl some spending money. Ha!

  2. Lisa Bogart December 17, 2014 at 5:35 am #

    Amen! And thank you! A spirit filled reminder for the whole year.

  3. Ivane Luna December 17, 2014 at 5:53 am #

    Such a beautiful reminder! One that I need to keep in mind always. He is so good and that alone is reason to celebrate – Christmas or otherwise.

  4. Judith Robl December 17, 2014 at 6:00 am #

    Karen, thank you for this re-focus on the season and ourselves.

    Frustration comes from unrealistic expectation as much as any other source. You have given us the tools to eliminate that frustration.

    Thank you!

  5. Chris Storm December 17, 2014 at 6:29 am #

    Hold on a second. Are you peeking in my windows? I feel like this message is for me! I host 16 people on Christmas Eve, 20 people on Christmas Day, 40 people three days later, decorate three christmas trees, bake 17 different kinds of cookies (yes, I said 17.) And this year, I’ve added some volunteer work that is turning out to be a part-time job. Do you remember that old comedy skit where the first character slaps the second across the face, and the second character responds with,”Thanks, I needed that?!”
    Well…”Thanks I needed that!” I know those truths, heard them a million times, but every now and then we need to hear them again in a new and different way to remind us to slow down and celebrate–Jesus!!! (He is all we ever really need.)

  6. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser December 17, 2014 at 7:05 am #

    There are times I wonder where the “Feed The World” spirit has gone; it seemed like the beginning of something big, on that Christmas 30 years or so ago. I can quote it by memory.

    “There’s a world outside your window,
    and it’s a world of dread and fear
    where the only waters flowing
    have the bitter taste of tears.
    And the Christmas bells that ring out
    are the clanging chimes of doom.
    Well, tonight, be glad it’s them
    instead of you!

    We need gratitude, yes, but our gratitude can only be made three dimensional and animated through the light of knowledge and compassion. Like light illuminating a landscape, creating definition and thereby an appreciated beauty through the interplay of light and shadow.

  7. Joe Plemon December 17, 2014 at 7:26 am #

    Thanks Karen, for this admonition to back away, take a deep breath and soak up the beauty of this season. I felt the tension in my shoulders dissolve as I read your post.

    So I reciprocate: Merry Christmas–and happy writing–to you.

  8. Marcy Lytle December 17, 2014 at 7:29 am #

    a great reminder, and i totally agree! my own daughter reminded me that i need to just obey and write, and not worry about the numbers…

  9. Shannon Skaer December 17, 2014 at 7:57 am #

    Thanks for the reminder! My writing project will get finished in God’s time, without sacrificing any other task he has called me to, (like my children) because His will is perfect.

  10. Johnnie Alexander December 17, 2014 at 7:59 am #

    Karen, I plan to set aside time to savor what’s around me as soon as I board a plane to Florida on Sunday. I’m spending all next week with my daughter and her family–including my three adorable grandboys. And I’m leaving my laptop (and my word count goals) at home. But until I get on that plane, I have presents to wrap, errands to run, an editing project to complete, cards to mail, blog posts to write . . . whew!

    Seriously, I love your post and especially this: Do the task God has given us; Craft words steeped in His truth and spirit; Share the message He’s given us with a weary, terrified world.

    I want those to be the focus of my writing when I get back on my laptop again. Thank you, and Merry Christmas!

  11. Marsha Harwood December 17, 2014 at 8:23 am #

    Karen, you are spot on! I’m getting ready to kick off a new website after the first of the year. When I focus on the “Must Do” list I freeze up and creativity, spontaneity, and genuineness go into hibernation. Instead of enjoying the journey through the Scriptures leading to His birth, I find myself on a guilt trip leading to the next box that needs to be checked off so I can stay on schedule. Thank you for the reminder to focus on Him.

  12. Sandy Faye Mauck December 17, 2014 at 8:42 am #

    “Doing the task God has given us

    Crafting words steeped in His truth and spirit

    Sharing the message He’s given us with a weary, terrified world”

    Loved those words, Karen. I gave up the “stuff” years ago and have great peace in that arena. But looking at the writer’s issues were good. I stress a lot there. Editing confusion swallows me up at times. Those “expectations” of getting it right, doing it right, etc. Thanks for that.

    “The beauty of lives changed because of what God has asked you to write – ” That is my expectation. Amen.

  13. Julie Surface Johnson December 17, 2014 at 9:18 am #

    Beautiful words. Thanks, Karen!

  14. Traci Krites December 17, 2014 at 10:12 am #

    A great reminder what the true season is about!!

  15. Beverly Brooks December 17, 2014 at 10:29 am #

    A restful and inspirational message. We are all thanking Karen (me too!) – we also thank God that He made us writers and that we all have times of carrying a message for Him to others.
    No matter our numbers or platforms or “to dos” there are moments when our steps are directed straight to the throne and while we gaze at Him, others follow. Sweet!!

  16. Dee Kincade December 18, 2014 at 4:50 pm #


    Oh, can I relate!

    Many “important” items on my Christmas To Do list will NOT get done this year because of a recent surgery. I decided that it was a good time to set-up new and better priorities for future years, also.

    My old lists are gone and a new one has been written based on the important things–the true reason for the season, family and friends.

    Soon our family will be here and we will celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

    Joy, which had been stolen by my pesky lists, has returned!

  17. Sabrina Cornman December 26, 2014 at 4:08 pm #

    I’m beginning to think God is trying to tell me something! It’s the day after Christmas and I am reading through the blogs that have been posted for the last two weeks. (Two weeks of substitute teaching in the same class requires more than a day in this class and a day in another. Grading papers, lesson plans and discipline issues took over my every waking moment!)
    Several times lately I have realized that I’m aggravated at myself if I’m not multitasking. The multitasking isn’t new, but the realization that I don’t allow myself to be happy is.
    My New Year’s resolution: Lighten up on the self expectations and the nearly impossible goal setting!
    Thanks for letting God use you to get my attention!

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