You’re busy. Or you’re sad. Or you’re conflicted. Or over scheduled. Or delirious with excitement.
Whatever the holidays mean to you, this time of year can be a killer for your writing productivity.
Depending on what you’re working on, that can be OK. Or perhaps you will need to continue to carve out some serious work time even though the 12 Tribes of HisFamilyAndYours are descending on you, daily.
Here are some encouraging words from me to you, on how to keep your inner writer and your outer productive-member-of-society happy together at the year’s end.
What Do You Need?
We’re used to asking what our characters need, but for once, let’s look at what YOU need, as a writer.
If You’re In The Middle Of A Project
If you have an ongoing project like a long short story, a story you’ve just started or a novel, you really will have to make time every day to write. The good news is you don’t have to do much. Even 250 words a day will keep your head in the project and your characters in your head. The even better news is that getting back to your imaginary world for even this little time every day, will be an incredible mood booster. Sneak off to a spare room for 30 minutes, come out smiling (and get the extended family talking about what on earth you keep in there!).
If You’re Between Projects
If you don’t have an ongoing project, my best advice for you is: don’t worry.
- Don’t worry about trying to craft stories when you’re temporarily overwhelmed with commitments.
- Don’t worry about writing stories when you have people you enjoy hanging out with.
- Do keep a notebook or your smartphone nearby and make notes. Capture moments, turns of phrase, jaw-droppingly inappropriate comments by in-laws (note: you may have to excuse yourself and run to the bathroom so people don’t know you’re writing about them). Use this time of enforced activity and sociability to capture all these things and call them Story Sparks.
- Don’t worry about what these Story Sparks might or might not turn into, just yet. Write them down. Keep them safe.
Keep Yourself Sane By Journalling
We write because we need to get the voices out of our heads, or because we need to know how we feel about things.
Just because you don’t have time to craft short stories over the holidays, don’t let that drive you insane.
Take a pretty notebook with you (keep it safe) and your favorite pen, and just write. At the start or end of the day, or in any stolen moment, write about your day.
- Write about what pisses you off.
- Write about what delights you.
- Write about what scares you.
- Let your handwriting reflect your mood. Write tiny letters or huge scrawls or in jagged, stabby motions.
- Try to write at least one sentence in there that uses some of your writerly skills, but mostly, just let the voices out.
You don’t need ever look at this journal again (though it might be useful to drag it out in July when you are both thinking of writing holiday stories for submission to winter holiday markets and making your own Christmas plans for next year!)
Here’s wishing you a peaceful and fruitful holiday season. I hope you get some rest, and manage to keep your inner writer healthy, wealthy and raring to go in the New Year.