Writing When Holidays Hit
In the writing biz, they say editors and agents take a vacation from Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day. Even for writers, if a deadline isn’t looming, the holidays can take a bite out of word count. Last post, we talked about writing when crises arise. Now let’s turn to writing when the holidays hit.
Writing Tip for Today: How can you balance productivity with reality during the holiday season?
Do What You Can
Instead of feeling guilty, do what writing you can when you can. This might mean being flexible about your writing routine, word count or discipline. If you write every day, (you DO write every day, right?), give yourself credit for every writing hour you log. Instead of five one-hour sessions, maybe you’ll take a couple of early morning or late night hours. If you’re traveling, write on a plane or bring a notebook or tablet to your destination and lock yourself in the closet now and then.
A deadline will fix these problems if you can’t contain the guilt. Write down your word count goal and keep it where you can see it or log it into your phone with alarm reminders. Self-imposed deadlines have been helpful to me in the past as I’ve written novels. Figure out the way you work best and then set goals accordingly. For every goal met, gift yourself some small prize. Be careful about rewarding yourself with Christmas cookies, though.
Write Something Fun
If you know you can’t make much progress on that novel until after New Year’s, try writing outside the box. Write a short story, an essay, a poem. The idea is to not allow your writing muscles to go unused. Creativity really does tend to atrophy if you don’t use it.
Here’s a fun idea: Instead of shying away from your favorite author for fear their voice will infiltrate your writing, imitate willfully, as a way of improving your skills. Analyze a chapter or scene from a writer you like and see if you can write something with the same kind of rhythm, structure or tone. This is only for fun, but you can improve your skills by understanding how successful authors work.
Gift Your Writing Shelf
While we’re scurrying about buying gifts for our loved ones, don’t forget the writing resource shelf. Put resource books on your wish list or gift yourself a good writing book. Books by Anne Lamott, Stephen King and Donald Maass are some of my favorite resources, but others, such as Larry Brooks’ Story Engineering, Lisa Cron’s Wired for Story, Chris Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey or Robert McKee’s Story are also worth investing in for your resource books.
The book I did with my editor buddies, Five Editors Tackle the Twelve Fatal Flaws of Fiction Writing has the world’s worst title but is a gem packed with great advice and before and after examples to help you transform your writing. It’s available here on Amazon, where it has occupied a top selling spot in its category for a while now. Today you can get the Kindle version for only 99 cents!
However you make it through the holidays, I hope you’ll keep writing. Plop down with a hot cup of cocoa, a book or your work-in-progress and enjoy the season.