Beating the January Blues, by Georgie Tennant

Is there anyone who, like me, agrees with the (not incredibly well-known) adage, “30 days has September, April, June and November. All the rest have 31, except January which has 798?”

Many a true word is said in jest. By the time you read my blog, two and a half weeks of this interminable month will have passed and it feels like there are at least another twelve to go. We have to face the hard fact that there really are no more Terry’s Chocolate Oranges lurking in the back of the cupboard, and the beautiful lights that were adorning the darkness so gracefully are a thing of the past.

It is easy, in January, to find oneself in a slump. The Monday just gone is known as Blue Monday - something to do with endless darkness, time since previous pay day and calculated time of average New Year’s resolution failure! Fortunately, it isn’t so blue in our house, owing to the existence of an increasingly-less-small boy who celebrated his twelfth birthday on that day. Pizza and cake abounded.

As I’ve got older I have found myself being dragged down less by January and its temptations to the extremes of hope and despair. I thought I might offer some thoughts on how to keep the January blues from taking hold in our lives, as Christians and as writers.

1. Keep everything in perspective. If we remind ourselves that, with God, “a day is a thousand years and a thousand years, a day,” (Psalm 90:4) we might be able to take the pressure off ourselves. We don’t have to solve everything right this second. God plays the long game and so can we.

2. Look for an inspiring devotional to steer you off on the right foot in January. It can feel like the nothing-zone. I enjoy treating myself to an Advent devotional (thanks Abby Ball for this year’s) and a Lent one (Amy Robinson’s is waiting in the wings) so why not something to fuel my soul now, in January? Start by reminding yourself which fellow ACW-ers write them and give one of them a bit of a boost by buying one from them.

3. Remind yourself how far you have come - in life and in writing. I like to sit with my calendar in front of me and give thanks for all God has enabled me to achieve and experience the previous year. It helps me trust Him for the next. If you journal, look back over those and remind yourself He has held you through the hard and the good.

4. If the previous year felt like a collective disaster and failure, be gentle with yourself. Ask yourself if there is anything you can learn, whether you might do things differently, if there is any help you might need to seek. Be kind to yourself, not over-critical.

5. If you’ve had the terror/horror/delight/joy (delete as applicable) of being published this year, re-read some complimentary reviews and let them encourage you.

6. Reach out to another writer you haven’t chatted you for a while. Send them a message. Encourage them. I can guarantee it will encourage you too, as you connect.

7. Dust off those old note books and look back over ideas that have been laying dormant. Perhaps, contained within those dusty covers, under an avalanche of terrible ideas, your next great one might be sitting, long-forgotten. Now might be the time to polish it up and bring it into the light.

8. Just write. Write something. Anything. A journal entry, blog post, poem, Chapter 7 of the book you haven’t thought of Chapter 1 for yet. Getting the words flowing might limber up the struggling brain.

9. Conversely, don’t write and cut yourself some slack. Perhaps ill health, mental health, looking after little people or looking after elderly people has taken its toll and you’re feeling burned out. Trust God “there is a time for everything,” (Ecclesiastes 3:1) and enjoy some rest. One day, it will be the right time again.

10. Take one last look, right to the back of the cupboard. Perhaps there is still one last Terry’s Chocolate Orange hiding, after all.

    Georgie Tennant is a secondary school English teacher in a Norfolk Comprehensive. She is married, with two sons, aged 14 and 12 who keep her exceptionally busy. She writes for the ACW ‘Christian Writer’ magazine occasionally, and is a contributor to the ACW-Published ‘New Life: Reflections for Lent,’ and ‘Merry Christmas, Everyone.' More recently, she has written 8 books in a phonics series, published by BookLife and taken on some freelance writing for King's Lynn Magazine. She writes the ‘Thought for the Week’ for the local newspaper from time to time and also muses about life and loss on her blog:

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