Are the holidays playing havoc with your writing routine? Is Christmas ruining your creativity? If you’re feeling too busy or too stressed to write, this post is for you. It’s also a great read for anyone who feels guilty for putting their writing before Christmas shopping and cookie baking. Leslie’s ten tips to keep you writing through the holidays will, we hope, help make this holiday season your most productive yet!
We’re smack in the middle of the holiday season right now, which is prime time for writers to become derailed. I’m not against a little holiday revelry, but I do understand that for me veering too far from my routine makes it hard to get back to it. If this is true for you, or the holidays tend to get you off track, try some of these tips to help you keep on writing through the holidays and well into 2017.
1. Know yourself.
Think about where you get tripped up. Avoid those things as much as possible. . Of course, you can’t always avoid distractions, so create a plan just in case. Whether it’s a quick walk or a ten-minute writing session, know what helps you regain your focus. Be sure you continue to do what you know helps you stay on track. For example, knowing what I want to work on first thing in the morning helps me to get started and avoid distraction, so before I quit working for the day, I take a five minutes to make a list of priorities for the next day.
2. Remember your writing goals.
You have your writing goals posted prominently where you can see them, right? (If not, check out this post on writing goals.) Sometimes the sheet I have my goals on can blend into the background. If you haven’t checked in with them in a while, take a moment to do so today. Are they still a good fit? If so, think about what made you pursue them in the first place. Focus on that to help you stay motivated when holiday parties call your name.
3. Stick to your regular routine as much as possible.
There are added commitments and events during the holidays. It’s hard to keep our routines going when we’re away from our usual triggers and may be over-indulging in our rewards. (Check this post on building your writing habit if you don’t have one yet.) Keep doing all the things you can to support your writing as much as you can. You’ll thank yourself when the holidays are over.
4. Schedule your writing time.
Figure out what you need to do to stay on track with your writing goals and schedule that in. If another activity that you must attend to takes the place of your writing time, find another time so that your writing doesn’t suffer.
5. Lean on your accountability partner or group.
Let your supportive people know what’s hard for you and what you’re hoping to achieve. You can say, “Hey, if you see me on Facebook, tell me to get back to work,” or “I’m going to text you my word count every-other day.”
6. Make use of the time you have.
As Steven Pressfield says, “Work in the cracks.” Get up a little early; go to bed a little later. Use your lunch hour. Ask your spouse to take over the kids for an hour. Bring writing implements with you wherever you go. Spend time thinking about your characters while you drive. Do what you can to make the most of time that isn’t otherwise occupied.
7. Don’t give in to discouragement.
If you miss a milestone, allow yourself a few minutes to feel disappointed, and then get back to it. Don’t waste time beating yourself up about something you didn’t do. Do what you can right now.
8. Say no when you need to.
Recently, a friend was lamenting the fact that there isn’t enough time to do all the things she wants to do during the holidays. I suggested that she pick the things that are important to her and drop all the rest. It’s hard to say no to all that is on offer this time of year. But if we don’t, we have little time left for what is truly important. Prioritize what’s important and say no to everything else.
9. Prioritize self-care.
Among your priorities should be getting enough sleep, eating well, and moving your body. A healthy and well-rested body and mind supports your creative efforts. When stress goes up, we need to maintain the core activities that help us stay afloat.
10. Continue under all circumstances.
This comes from Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones. Something will always compete for your attention, whether it has to do with the holidays, a day job, or [insert challenging life circumstances here]. If writing is one of your big dreams and it’s important to you, then continue no matter what else is happening in any small way you can.
How do you keep writing during the holidays? In what areas do you struggle? We invite you to share in the comments below.
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