How to keep writing over the busy holiday season
Finding time to write is hard enough during the rest of the year, but during the holidays, it seems nearly impossible. There are a million things to do that keep us from writing: baking and cooking, wrapping presents, shopping for gifts, decorating, spending time with family and friends, watching holiday specials on TV, traveling, and eating tons of food.
By the time you wake up from your food coma in January, you might find that you haven’t gotten any writing done and have totally lost your momentum so that you’re now struggling to get back into the story.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are 17 tips that will help you keep writing over the busy holiday season:
- Write first thing in the morning. I know the holidays are not a time when you want to set an alarm and get up early. But if you get up just half an hour earlier than everyone else, you could get in some writing while your brain is still fresh and there are no distractions around. No matter what happens during the rest of the day, you already got some writing done and can start the day with a sense of accomplishment.
- Stay up a little longer. If you’re not an early bird, you could try getting some writing done in the evenings, when everyone else is already asleep. Even if you get in just fifty words, that’s still progress.
- Use travel time to write. If you’re traveling to visit family or friends during the holidays, use the time on the plane or the train to write. Instead of chatting with your fellow travelers, put on headphones and write. Not having access to the Internet while you’re traveling can do wonders for your productivity too!
- Write instead of watching TV. Do you really have to watch every holiday special and every rerun of your favorite TV shows? For every hour of watching TV you give up, you gain an hour of writing time.
- Find a place to write. During the holidays, it can be difficult to find a quiet place where you can write without interruptions, especially if you’re not spending the holidays in your own home. Try early on to find a writing corner. You could even try writing away from the house if there are too many distractions around. Go find a coffee shop, or dictate a scene of your novel while you’re taking a walk.
- Use little nuggets of time. You probably won’t get long blocks of uninterrupted writing time during the holidays, but you can still get a lot done if you use waiting time wisely. While you wait for boarding at the airport or for dinner to cook, get in some writing. Fifteen minutes here and there really do add up. If you are one of those writers who can’t get any writing done unless they have at least an hour or two, use those little pockets of time for writing-related things such as choosing names for your characters, plotting out the next scene, or doing a little research. But give writing in small chunks of time a try; the more you practice it, the easier it becomes.
- Set realistic goals. Lower your expectations and make sure to set realistic writing goals; otherwise, you just end up frustrating yourself and feeling guilty for not meeting your goals. I know that I won’t be able to make my usual goal of writing 2,000 words a day during the holidays, but 500 words should be doable.
- Be flexible. During the holidays, you have to be creative to get a little writing in. If you can write only under perfect conditions, you probably won’t get any writing done. Be open to trying new things. For example, if you don’t have enough time to get out your laptop, scribble down a few sentences in a notebook.
- Eliminate distractions. Since you don’t have much time to write during the holidays, it’s all the more important to use that time in a productive way instead of wasting it on mindless activities. If you’re anything like me, e-mail, social media, and the Internet are probably your biggest distractions. Use a software program such as Freedom that blocks the Internet while you’re writing. Or, better yet, do a digital detox during the holidays. Stay completely unplugged and use the time you don’t spend online to write.
- Use thinking time. Even if you don’t have time to actually sit down to write, there’ll always be time to think about the next scene and to plan your next writing session while you’re doing the dishes, taking a shower, or wrapping gifts. That way, you already know what you’re going to write and won’t have to stare at a blank page when you finally do find time to write.
- Schedule writing time in advance. Get out your daily planner and look at your schedule during the holidays. Where could you set aside a little time for your writing? Put it in your calendar. That way, you’re sending a signal that you’re taking your writing as seriously as any other important appointment. Reserve that time for writing. Don’t answer the doorbell or the phone; just write.
- Share your writing schedule with your family and friends. Let them know when you’ll be writing and ask them not to disturb you during that time.
- Write down notes at the end of each writing session. If you don’t have much time to write, you can’t waste it by re-reading what you have written or figuring out what you want to write next. So end each writing sessions by taking notes for the next one.
- Stay healthy. I know the holidays are the time to overeat and avoid any form of exercise, but try not to overdo it too much. If you take good care of yourself, you’ll still have the energy to get a little writing done when everyone else falls into a food coma.
- Avoid multitasking. We’re taught that multitasking makes us more productive, but it’s actually just the opposite. Every time you switch between tasks, your brain needs time to adjust. As a result, you need longer to complete each task and will make more mistakes. That’s why multitasking is jokingly referred to as “the art of screwing up several things at once.” So don’t lug your laptop to the kitchen and try to write while preparing dinner. Unless cooking requires no brain power whatsoever for you, you’ll only stress yourself out and end up with overly salted food.
- Use the time for writing-related tasks. If you don’t feel very creative during the holidays, try to use the time for the other tasks in a writer’s life. You could spend December revising your NaNoWriMo draft, do some research for your next writing project, read a book on writing, or set your writing goals for 2016.
- Don’t feel guilty. There’s no reason to feel guilty for setting aside a little time for yourself and your writing. You’ll be a happier person once you got some writing in, and your loved ones will benefit from that too. It’s a sign of mutual respect if your family and friends don’t disturb you during your writing time—and you in return focus exclusively on your friends and family when you’re with them instead of daydreaming about your writing. On the other hand, if you don’t feel like writing and would rather spend some time with family and friends, go ahead and do that without feeling guilty. Some time away from writing can help to refill your creative tank.
For more tips on how to find time to write—during the holidays or the rest of the year—check out Time Management for Writers. How to write faster, find the time to write your book, and be a more prolific writer by Sandra Gerth.
Happy holidays and best of luck with your writing!
(Writers’ Guide Series)
How to write faster, find the time to write your book, and be a more prolific writer
by Sandra Gerth
In the digital age, publishing as book is easier than ever, but finding the time to write a book is becoming harder and harder. With day jobs, family obligations, household chores, and hobbies, many writers struggle to get any writing done.
At the same time, publishers and readers expect writers to publish multiple books every year and to somehow find enough time to market their books through blogging, social media, and networking.
If you are struggling to find enough time to write or don’t get much written once you finally do, this book is for you.
Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, this book will help you to
- Find enough time to write, even if you have a day job,
- Write and publish more books in less time,
- Use rituals to create a powerful writing habit,
- Get your first drafts written more quickly, while still writing well,
- Deal with distractions and interruptions,
- Find your most productive writing routine and environment,
- Use writing challenges to become more productive,
- Discover tools and resources that help you focus on your writing,
- Manage your e-mail inbox in less time,
- Decide how much time to spend writing versus marketing,
- Overcome writer’s block and procrastination,
Sandra Gerth is a writer and an editor who divides her time between writing her own books and helping other writers revise and polish theirs.
She holds a degree in psychology and worked as a psychologist for eight years before transitioning into a career as a full-time novelist—the best job in the world as far as she’s concerned.
She earned a certificate in editing from the Academy of German Book Trade and is now the senior editor of Ylva Publishing, a small press that publishes women’s fiction.
Under her pen name, Jae, she has published twelve novels and about two dozen short stories. Her books have won numerous awards and have been #1 bestsellers on Amazon on various occasions.
She’s also the author of a series of books for writers.
- Day 1: Welcome and Christmas Expectations
- Day 2: Christmas at my House
- Day 3: Giving Tuesday
- Day 4: Pizza and Poker/Holiday Recipe Exchange
- Day 5: Little Lynnie’s Christmas Crackers
- Day 6: Blue Christmas
- Day 7: Take your Child to the Bookstore
- Day 8: St. Knickerless Day
- Day 9: Not so Traditional Holiday Traditions
- Day 10: Holiday Sing-a-long
- Day 11: Jolly Old Mrs. Claus ( Ana’s Spoons)
- Day 12: Congratulations to winners so far
- Day 12A: Christmas Kisses
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