Whether we’re ready for it or not, tomorrow marks the beginning of the 2016 holiday season. Between the end of November and early January there are dozens of celebrations, both religious and secular, and chances are a few of them apply to you. While the world at large is planning menus and wrapping gifts, we writers are worrying about how to get our word counts in on top of all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. For some of us, the holidays simply mean a couple of extra work gatherings and an extra day or two of family time. Others of us are orchestrating elaborate gatherings or are travelling great distances to be reunited with loved ones. Writing during this time isn’t impossible, and I’ve compiled a few helpful hints for you:
Take your time management skills to 11. Plan ahead and do the holiday tasks that can be done early so you’re not in a stress-induced panic later. Stress is not the muse’s friend, nor does it enhance your holiday fun. Bust out your Google Calendar or Franklin planner and put in *everything*. It will make your available scraps of time more apparent so you can use them to your advantage. You have 20 minutes? Use it. Case in point? I wrote the first draft of this very post in the King Sooper’s parking lot. I took my 4-year-old with me to do the Thanksgiving meal shopping and she fell asleep in the car. Rather than rouse her, I busted out my trusty notebook so she could get some rest. Also? Carry a notebook. Always.
Prioritize Holiday Activities. You can’t do every holiday tradition and function justice every year. Pick and choose what is important to you and your family so you can really enjoy what you’re doing. Lose your Pinterest guilt. If you don’t make the Christmas-Card-worthy gingerbread house from scratch every year, you are not Scrooge. The minute you begin to loathe going to another party or making another craft is the moment you’ve overscheduled.
Prioritizing Writing Activities. This is not the ideal time to begin a new project or to schedule a million events, so decide what’s important. It’s not always possible to avoid conflicts, however. You may have a book to launch over the holidays or edits due (I’ve been in both situations) and you have to do your best to get as much done in advance on your projects as possible. Creating launch memes early and having packing lists for book signings are all little things we can do to reduce stress when we can’t minimize our writing life in December.
Keep writing goals realistic.This is key, in my mind. You may not be able to keep up your usual pace, so think about what you can feasibly accomplish. 200 words a day instead of 2,000 for the two weeks your kids are off school? Fantastic. Those are 2,800 words you didn’t have before and you “touched the ball” each day, which is key in staving off writers’ block once you return to your projects in the new year.
Remember, family (biological and otherwise) should come first. For many of us, we wouldn’t be able to be successful in this crazy business without the love and support of our friends and family. If they want our time during the holiday season, we should do our best to honor it. Plus? You never know what stories might be waiting for you around the dinner table.
Wishing you love and peace in 2017,
Any other, 'write through the Holiday' tips for us, WITS readers?