The holidays are a great time for us to sit back and actually take a break from our hectic lives. Think of all that open time to spend on the writing you’ve been putting off all year!
Except it’s not that easy to keep writing over the holiday. We have travel plans, vacations, holiday meals, family time, and parties to fill every last second of our break. It’s easy to get swept up in the rush of it all. By the end of the break, we realize that we didn’t exactly write all that much. Maybe we needed it.
But if you’re like me, you can’t really imagine stepping away from writing for that long. Still, with all of the crazy things going on, it can be hard to find the time to write. Here’s how you can keep writing over the holidays even with a busy schedule.
Be realistic about what you can do
I made the mistake of thinking I could spend the Thanksgiving holiday finishing up NaNoWriMo. The amount of words I had to fill during that time, however, was absolutely crazy. Sure, if I had been home, alone, and had my normal writing routine, it wouldn’t have been that hard.
Understand that your routine is going to be different. That means you’re going to have to ease your expectations, be flexible, and find the little moments to write. Take a realistic look at the time you’ll have available. Know that big moments will be filled with conversation, food, and parties rather than writing, researching, and editing. Accept that you aren’t going to accomplish the same amount of work as you usually do.
Plan ahead to get your writing done
If you can establish a schedule for the following day, you can find the moments in between events to get your work done. If you know that after a meal your family will want a quick nap, use that hour for writing. If there’s down time, sneak into your room to write a little.
Get up early or stay up late
Most people use the holidays to catch up on sleep. Instead, use those hours to your advantage. Write before anyone gets up in the morning and be productive in the early hours. Stay up after everyone else has gone to sleep and get a few more words in. Don’t sacrifice sleep if you need it, but take advantage of being awake in the quiet.
Also, consider staying in your room for an extra 30 minutes or so if others are awake or go to bed a little early. Use that as a wake up or wind down time and write a little.
Use conversations as writing fuel
When the family is all gathered to share stories, pay attention. Just as writers are encouraged to eavesdrop on conversations in public, use the talk as research. Get inspiration from the stories, pay attention to how people talk, and watch how others interact. Use all of that as fuel for your inspiration and writing style.
Take a notebook everywhere
Most of us prefer to use a keyboard to do our writing, but if you’re going to be hassled for having your face glued to a screen while you’re writing, think about switching to a notebook for the holiday. Jot notes, make observations, and avoid the lectures about how we are always on our phones. Besides, if I’m going to be interrupted, I’d rather talk about my writing things than why I still haven’t had a baby.
Get outside for fresh air
Sometimes the crowd is a little overwhelming or you need a break. Take yourself, a coat, and a notebook out and walk around the block. Chances are you’ll relax and at least get a better frame of mind before going back in. If there’s a local park, go sit on a bench for a little bit and write some more. The change of scenery will do you good.
In the end, remember you are on vacation and are supposed to be enjoying the holidays. If the writing inspiration isn’t there, don’t try to force it out just to keep up with the writing. Sit back and enjoy the time away from work and stress, take advantage of family time, and breathe. Give yourself some flexibility over the holiday so you can come back ready to go.