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December can be a difficult time for creatives. With holiday parties, additional family responsibilities, and decorations to hang, it is hard to keep up the discipline of writing. Sometimes what we need is someone in our ear, giving us advice and spurring us onward, with motivational quotes for writers.

General Powell's Motivational Quotes for Writers During the Holidays

It would be helpful if this inner coach was a model of leadership and discipline. So let’s embrace some of the motivational quotes of retired four-star general in the United States Army Colin Powell.

General Powell served at the national Security Advisor from 1987 to 1989, the Commander of the U.S. Army Forces Command in 1989, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1989 to 1993, and the Secretary of State from 2001 to 2005.

Among his many accomplishments, one of the things he has become famous for are his Thirteen Rules for Leadership. First printed in the August of 1989 issue of Parade magazine, these one- to two-sentence phrases are fantastic for managing effort and building a culture of personal discipline.

General Powell’s Rules for Leadership (And Writers)

I have these thirteen sayings pinned the wall behind my computer screen and I find myself reading them all the time. I find them especially helpful at this time of year.

My five kids bring with them a crazy amount of end-of-the-year concerts, parties I have to drive them to, and extra shopping. All of which cuts into my writing time. In addition, my day job tends to pick up speed at this time of year with everyone trying to complete their projects before holiday vacations hit.

Below let’s look at my favorite five of the thirteen quotes together, and I will share how they have been helpful to me as a writer in the past.

It ain’t as bad as you think.

I need to tell myself this every time I finish a writing session. When my life is busy, the words never flow like I need them to. Each sentence feels like a battle. When I finally get through a scene, I’m sure it is complete crap. That’s when I need to step back and remind myself that “it ain’t as bad as you think.”

It is always true. We are our worst critics. That’s why we need to fight off discouragement by remembering that if we step away from it, it will look better in the morning.

Get mad, then get over it.

Part of the holiday spectacular at my house are the surprise appointments. These usually start with the phrase, “By the way, Dad…”

By the way, Dad. I need you to drive me to Molly’s house tonight because we are having a party.

By the way, Dad. My test is coming up so I need your help with math.

By the way, Dad. I have to be at my winter band concert an hour before it starts because the director said we all stunk in practice today.

With each “by the way, dad” I can feel my writing time melting away. But getting mad about it isn’t helpful.

First, it’s not my kids fault it is a busy time of year. Second, anger takes energy. I can stomp my feet, stick out my bottom lip, and cross my arms for hours. The only person I’m hurting is myself.

So when my schedule gets thrown off, I give myself a minute of frustration, and then I roll with it.

It can be done.

This one is so important when time is limited. When I’ve only got twenty minutes, when I know I’m going to have to bolt out of the house for the next activity, the voice in my head says, “Don’t try writing. It can’t happen right now.”

When I’ve had a full day and the clock reads 11 pm and I’m tired, that inner voice says, “You can’t write right now. You’re too tired.”

When my alarm goes off at 5 am to get me up to write for thirty minutes before I have to get ready for work, but the floor is cold and I was up too late last night, that voice in my head says, “Nope. You can’t do this. Go back to sleep.”

Those times are when I need this quote. I have to stick my finger in the face of my inner voice and say, “It can be done!”

Have a vision.

When time is pressed, having a vision of the scene I want to write is so important. During December, I will make sure that when I’m in my car driving to and from work, I’m spending time in silence imagining scenes. That way I can maximize my time writing.

Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.

If I’m honest with myself, I can admit that the biggest drain on my writing during the holidays is not the parties, or the “by the way, Dad” interruptions, or the limited writing times. It is my poor attitude. If I’m pessimistic about my writing time, then I’ve already failed. I will waste more time trying to get up the motivation to write than any holiday event will take from me.

I find that if I can approach my writing times with excitement, even if those times are only twenty minutes long, then I will get three times done what I do if I’m slogging through a bad attitude. Sometimes it is as easy as saying to myself before I start writing, “This is going to be fantastic.”

Motivational Quotes for Writers During the Holidays

When our schedules great tight, it’s important to stay motivated, disciplined, and optimistic. You can beat the holiday schedule and keep writing by focusing in. Hopefully these few leadership rules from General Colin Powell with help.

Are there any motivational quotes for writers or rules you follow that help you keep writing? If so, share them in the comments so the rest of us can benefit from them.


Put these quotes to work for you right now. Say each one out loud: “It ain’t as bad as you think. Get mad, then get over it. It can be done. Have a vision. Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.”

Then, take fifteen minutes to write. Continue your work in progress, or write a story about a character struggling with holiday shopping.

When you’re done, share your practice in the comments below. Be sure to leave feedback for your fellow writers!

BONUS: Every day this week, start your writing time by repeating these motivational quotes. How does that impact your writing?

Jeff Elkins
Jeff Elkins
Jeff Elkins is a writer who lives Baltimore with his wife and five kids. If you enjoy his writing, he'd be honored if you would subscribe to his free monthly newsletter. All subscribers receive a free copy of Jeff's urban fantasy novella "The Window Washing Boy."
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