Shelley Widhalm

Archive for December, 2021|Monthly archive page

Want Fun New Year’s Eve Plans? (Mine are about the 1920s)

In 1920s, Editing, Flappers, New Year's Eve on December 29, 2021 at 11:00 am

Paul, my NYE date, and I are goofing off trying on funny hats. We don’t have our 1920s outfits yet!

By SHELLEY WIDHALM

I love New Year’s Eve for the ultimate fun factor—and the flashback to 1920s wild parties.

The night is all about frivolity, but then the next day, three months of the big holiday pileup is essentially over until Valentine’s Day. In the meantime, January can be a bit depressing with cold, snowy, short days that have to be slogged through to get to spring and baby animals.

Luckily, January is introduced with a big party night. I’m showing up as a flapper in a feather headpiece, elbow gloves and … yes, sparkly jewelry.

Oh-h, a Gala!

My date and I are going to the 19th White Rose Gala, a Roaring 20s Great Gatsby NYE Party, at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in Denver. I haven’t gone to a fancy, expensive party, ever, so I’m super stoked to stay up past my usual 10 p.m. bedtime curfew.

For this curfew-bending outing, my date rented a 1920s tux, and I’m wearing a little black ruffle dress, pearls I already had and sparkly dangling earrings, all that match photos I found online of Great Gatsby accessories.

I “edited” my outfit to fit the decade, sans cigarette holder, since I hate cigarettes (the smoke interferes with breathing and crap) and holding things, especially for hours on end, unless it’s some cute guy’s hand or a drink, preferably rum and Coke.

Here’s a Bit of History

The 20s were known for Prohibition, riotous spending, flourishing arts, jazz music, speakeasies and nightclubs, along with a sudden change in clothing. Women went from tight corsets and floor-length hemlines to the loose glam of the flapper dress. Shorter hems allowed for easier movement, and accents like strings of pearls and tassels showed off dance moves. Men, too, opted for stripes, bold colors, suspenders, vests and less formalwear when they hit the town.

Hemlines rose from the ground to the knees (scandalous! Plus, miniskirts won’t even appear until the 1960s!). Hair went short—women showed off their bobs with rounded felt hats and headbands embellished with feathers, sequins and jewels. And makeup became smoky, dark and daring.

Here’s Something Personal

Flappers dressed for wild nights out. I, too, love partying, though I’m buttoned-up and disciplined about writing, editing and work. I used to be a party girl during college and after until I went to grad school, when I had so much homework to do, I had to focus on that or not get my perfectionist-chasing straight As.

I partied some while building my career, but to a lesser extent. With all the worry about success, I never let loose like the convention-defying flappers, instead doing what I was supposed to. I think that’s why NYE is so riotous—you can escape the boundaries of responsibility to ascertain your real energy. Mine’s a bit wild. Though if you met me, you’d probably think I was nice, a nerd and quiet.

Not really.

Fitting in Writing During the Holidays

In Writing, Writing Advice, Writing Discipline, Writing Goals, Writing Tips on December 5, 2021 at 11:00 am

Zoey the Cute Dachshund wears an “Ugly T-shirt” during the holidays, though she’d prefer to not wear silly human clothes.

BY SHELLEY WIDHALM

The holiday calendar can fill up fast with fancy parties, family get-togethers and ugly sweater contests, leaving little room for keeping up the writing routine.

For me, skipping a whole month is too much of a break, so even a couple of sessions in December keeps the focus on my main goal. If I stray away from writing for too long, I get a little anxious and then find it hard to return to my old habit.

To keep writing on my holiday to-do list and busy calendar, I have to have a plan, be disciplined and set a routine.

Writing Routines

Here are a few ways I’ve learned to be disciplined in writing no matter the time of year:

  • Buy a planner or use a phone app for 2022 and schedule specific writing days.
  • Write daily, or at least a couple of times a week, selecting a specific time or place to write, e.g. keep writing office hours.
  • Clock in the hours you write, both for accountability and to acknowledge what you have accomplished, and add up the hours every week or month and compare them over time.
  • Write for five or 10 minutes in between other activities, using a notebook that you always have with you. Those minutes will add up over time, as do the pages.
  • Write a writing action plan with goals for the year and check in every few weeks to mark your progress.
  • Take a writer’s retreat, even if it’s in your hometown, setting aside a couple of days to focus on writing (maybe as a reward for surviving the holidays or just before everything gets busy).

Writing Results

Once writing is routine and you mark your progress toward your goals, you can see success, while also being able to engage in the fun of the holidays.

For my routine, I like to calculate how many hours I spent on writing novels and short stories, writing poetry and revising my work, along with the time I dedicated to writing each month. I can tell when I’ve gotten distracted and for how long, not putting in those important hours and minutes that can add up to a significant amount, especially in a year’s time.

This holiday, I plan to stay on track and keep to my original goal of writing at least three times a week, writing a poem a day for my daily poem challenge, and fitting in writing whenever I can. That way I can get in more writing for my year-end tally! This year, it looks like I’ll have put in close to 400 hours, or about 10 40-hour workweeks.

Note: I provide editing, writing and ghostwriting services and can help you perfect your project from an article or blog series to a short story or novel. I also offer consultations on writing and editing through #ShellsInk at shellsinkservices.com.