Welcome to the most wonderful time of the year! The days between Thanksgiving and New Year are packed with parties, concerts, school plays, and family gatherings. All of that is great for your social life, but it’s terrible for your writing schedule.
There are lots of ways to handle the rush and bustle, so now at the beginning of the season, take a few moments to decide how you want to manage your writing over the coming weeks. Consider your successes and failures from past years along with where you are in the writing process right now. Then read through the following approaches and decide which is the best one for you.
1. Take the month off. Writing is important, but it isn’t your whole life. This time of year offers chances to spend time with family and friends that don’t come up other times. It’s important to say yes to real-world relationships. From a writing perspective, intentional time away from the page can give me renewed energy for attacking my manuscript in the cozy month of January. That’s what New Year’s resolutions are for, after all.
2. Make writing a priority. There are always distractions from writing, so making excuses now will make it easier to keep making excuses later. Stick to your regular schedule and say no to activities that interfere. Your life will be less crowded, and the things you are able to do will be more meaningful.
3. Switch to a different part of the writing process. If you’ve been working on the same manuscript for a long time, give yourself permission this month to sketch out ideas for new stories. Or, dive into research for your current project without worrying about your daily word counts. This can also be a great time to focus on some aspect of craft that’s been giving you trouble. Read craft books and focus on the exercises instead of just pushing forward in your current manuscript.
4. Set realistic goals. Sit down with your holiday calendar and your regular writing schedule. If you’re going to spend 12 hours in the car driving, and you get carsick just thinking about your computer screen, then you will not meet your word count goal that day. Just go ahead and accept that now, but look for other times when you can fit writing into your schedule. Maybe you’re not a football fan but your family is. Write while they watch the game. The main idea is to write when you can, and don’t stress when you can’t.
How have you handled writing during the holiday season in past years? What works best for you?