It’s the biggest balancing act of the year…

The holiday season is notorious for many things — from overeating and travel to days filled with obligations you don’t have at other times of the year. If you’re a writer, this can be even more frustrating because let’s face it, you’d probably rather be at your computer getting that tension-filled scene written… if only your family wasn’t trying so hard to get your attention for your holiday dinner.

Whether it’s holiday expectations or just your usual busy schedule, it’s not always easy to find the time to write. And this can make life even harder when you really do want to make equal time for other things that matter just as much.

So, how do you balance your schedule so you can fit in your writing, while also respecting commitments to family, friends, the day job, the cat, etc.? And how do you make sure you enjoy the holiday season while protecting the creative energy you need to get writing done?

Here are some of our favorite tips, with holiday writing in mind:

Holiday Writing for the Plotter

Plotters are planners, and so if that’s you, go right ahead and lean into your love of organization. This is actually a super handy trait to have during the holidays, when so many activities are happening.

  • Calendar in writing appointments for yourself. The holidays are a perfect time to treat your writing like you would any other event. Put it on the calendar and consider it time you’re not available to other things. If you do this even once a week, it’ll be worth it.
  • Plan your writing around other holiday events. Here’s the deal… When I go visit my parents, I can take my laptop (and I do)… but I don’t get much done. I just don’t. So I’ve started getting projects done before I visit. You can do the same! Put in extra writing time before big visits or lengthy holiday activities so you feel ahead of the game instead of behind.

Holiday Writing for the Pantser

Pantsers hate the idea of planning ahead in detail, as least when it comes to writing. And that’s a perfect mindset for the holidays, which are filled with unexpected moments. Go ahead and let the chaos inspire your creative energy.

  • Be ready to write anywhere, anytime. The holidays usually involve waiting — whether that’s for a table at a restaurant, or in line at the store, or in the airport for a delayed flight. Don’t be ashamed of using that time for yourself. Carry a notebook with you so you can write when the fancy strikes…and while you’re waiting in line.
  • Talk out scenes! No notebook or pen, because in true pantser fashion, you didn’t plan ahead? No problem, because you have your phone, right? Of course you do. Use your phone’s voice memo app and recite the scene. You can transcribe it later or hire someone to do so.

If You’re Feeling Distracted or Overwhelmed

Mindset and emotions are so tied into our creative work! And during the holidays, it’s fair to expect some of this aspect of your life to feel more up-in-the-air than usual. Do what you can to help yourself find balance, so you can protect your creative energy.

  • Make your writing a ritual. Rather than just running to your computer, slow down and enjoy the moment. Instead of focusing on word count, focus on self-care. Light a candle, or grab tea or wine or beer, or whatever you do in a relaxed moment. So what if you only get 500 words on the page? At least you’ll have done so as you treat yourself to restorative “me time.”
  • Care for your body and soul. Managing your energy and well-being are vital to creativity. So, count everything as fuel for writing! Go for a walk…or to the gym. Eat a healthy meal. Listen to classical music. Do 10-15 minutes of yoga stretches. These activities refuel your creative well, so when you do get a chance to write, you’ll be relaxed enough to do so.

If Your Time Seems Super Tight…

I mean… it’s the holidays, of course your time is super-tight. We get it. Think of this season as a chance to get out of your normal routing, managing your time differently than you usually do.

  • Look for things you can (temporarily) let go off. Free up your time by switching it up — and own that you can’t do everything. If you really want to write, then put off watching Netflix until after the new year. Cut your gym time by 15 minutes some days. Make PB&J for lunch instead of a complicated meal. Use that free time, however brief, for writing.
  • Embrace short writing. Did you know one of the most prolific writers of all time, Trollope, wrote in 250-word increments? Sometimes, we writers can get uptight about trying to meet high word counts. But you don’t have to do that. Give yourself permission to lower your normal word count during the holidays.
  • Take the holidays off. I mean… No one says you have to write over the holidays. It’s only a few weeks. If you need to make your life work by waiting until after January 1 to get back to writing, then do it! Don’t feel bad about it.

If You Don’t Want to Write During the Holidays

The holidays are filled with expectations from everyone. Let yourself off the hook by refusing to expect more of yourself as a writer than you can reasonably do.

  • Take off the holidays. I mean… No one says you have to write over the holidays. If you need to make your life work by waiting until after January 1 to get back to writing, then do it! Treat it like a vacation, and have fun!
  • Don’t feel bad about it. The holiday season is high-pressure. And yet it’s only a few weeks in the scheme of things. So go ahead and give yourself permission to use the holiday season for family, celebrations, and volunteering. And give yourself permission to have a blast. You deserve it!

Need some additional help with your writing project? Reach out to us with any questions you may have. We’re even available for consulting! And if we don’t know the answer to your burning questions, we’ll find someone who does.

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