Ah, the holidays are upon us once more! And whether you celebrate Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, Solstice, or Athiest’s Kids Get Presents Day, you’ll probably agree with me when I say this time of year can get pretty hectic. Don’t get me wrong–hectic in a good way! Family and friends come together for holiday-themed parties and dinners. There’s tree lighting and cookie decorating and carol singing and (in some necks of the woods) ice skating.
But the flip side to all that fun and activity–especially for us writerly folks who don’t work a traditional work week–is that it can be hard to keep on top of your goals. Here are a few of the tips and tricks that have helped me keep on track with my writing during the holiday season.
Set doable goals. So maybe you can usually pump out a few thousand words a day, easy. But with a house full of family and cookies in the oven, that might not be possible. But 15 minutes? 500 words? If you set more manageable goals, then there’s less of a chance you’ll beat yourself up when life inevitably gets in the way of your writing. And if you surpass your goal? Then you definitely deserve that extra cup of eggnog.
Wake up a little earlier, or go to sleep a little later. I know–you’re on vacation. But waking up just 15-30 minutes early can be enough time to set some words to paper while also priming the pump so that you’ll be more likely to take advantage of pockets of free time later in the day. The same goes for the half hour before bed–taking some time to yourself and escaping into your words can be a great way to unwind. (Had a few glasses of wine? Don’t worry–Hemingway always advised to “write drunk, edit sober.”)
Keep a journal. Writing in a daily journal can be a great way to work through the joys and frustrations of a hectic holiday season, while also opening the door for inspiration and new ideas.
Trade long form for short or flash fiction. So maybe sitting down to work on your novel for an hour just isn’t going to happen. But taking a few minutes out of your day to write a quick short story or flash fiction is a great way to keep your writing muscles strong without the pressure to produce anything polished. Stumped about what to write? Open to a random page in a book, and write a story about the very first sentence you see. Or draw a random card from a tarot deck as inspiration. Or check out this ongoing list of weekly prompts over at Writer’s Digest.
Prioritize joy, and cut yourself some slack. No matter what you do, there are going to be days this month when writing just isn’t in your stars. You know what? Refuse to feel guilty. Surround yourself in light, laughter, and love, and take pleasure in the precious, fleeting happiness of sharing the holidays with the people you love most. This season only comes once a year, and there’s no reason to feel bad about prioritizing yourself and your loved ones.
Happy Holidays to once and all, and a very Happy New Year!