Writing Over the Holidays

Holidays are great. I love the extra time with family, the colorful lights, the music, and the good food. The fun certainly involves a change in routine. Some people who have vacation over the holidays hope to work more on their novels, while conversely, people who write for a living might find their normal work time gets squeezed. In the past, I’ve had major deadlines of January 1st, and the mix of writing pressure and fear of disappointing my family has been grueling. Even without a major deadline, finding a balance can be tricky. Here are a few suggestions that might apply to your writing life over the holidays.

Remember why you write. If you write to make yourself happy, then keeping it up during the holidays will bring joy to the season for you. You’ll have that warm sense of satisfaction of time well spent on your art, with pages adding up and your soul nurtured. If you write for your job, and your job is key to supporting your family, then write without guilt while you need to, and then do your best to turn the anxiety off during the times you can take a break to focus on family.

Don’t be anxious and not write. In other words, avoid the mistake of feeling torn. Either write and devote yourself to the process, or accept that you’re not writing and enjoy your non-writing time with people you love doing other activities you value. If you catch yourself distractedly talking to Grandma while mentally chastising yourself for neglecting your work, make a conscious choice to chill and focus on the moment.

Write briefly and badly. If you feel your time vanishing and notice it’s hard to keep continuity going in your novel, accept that your writing might be bad, but keep it up anyway. Even if you only write one page in an hour and only have one writing hour in a day, that one page still helps your ideas progress. You may end up cutting the page once you resume normal working hours, but it might be the bridge to other, new ideas. It will also remind you who you are, at a deep level, while the rest of your identity is pulled towards being a good parent or sibling or daughter or son. You’ll have more to give because you’ll be full and centered yourself.

Balance is a work in progress. However you manage to find yours, enjoy the holidays!

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