How to Keep Writing Through Holidays and Other Distractions

Easter_candy_chocolat_242057_l"Get back to me after Easter."

"Let's deal with that after Easter."

I've heard that several times this week and it has gotten me thinking about how we deal with our lives around major holidays and other distractions. Specifically, how we deal with our writing.  Even more specifically, how we get writing done when holidays and major distractions (spring break, anyone?) occur.

Sometimes we don't.

And honestly, when that happens, when you know there's just no way you're going to get any work done, its best just to go with it and not beat yourself up. 

But what if you truly, desperately want to keep working through busy periods?  If you're coming down the homestretch of finishing a novel, say, or in the white hot heat of beginning one?  Following are some tips to keep you sane.

1. Find a way to touch base with your WIP.  Even if you can't write, you can take time to read a page or two.  (C'mon, this takes only five minutes.) Staying in touch with your project in this way keeps it planted in your brain and allows your subconscious to work on it.

2.  Write first thing.  I know, you night owls hate this one.  But there's nothing like the feeling of getting your most important work done first thing in the morning.  Even if its just twenty minutes, somehow connecting with your most important project first thing makes the whole day go better.

3.  Write while exercising.   You keep up with your exercise routine, right?  (Somehow its easier to tell your demanding family you're going out for a walk than it is to tell them you're shutting yourself away in your writing den.  I know, I've been there.)  Take a voice recorder and talk your next scene into it while walking.  Or just hide out at the coffee shop and work instead of writing.  (Maybe you could walk to the coffee shop so you wouldn't technically be lying.)

4.  Take your manuscript with you wherever you go.  Then, you can take an extra few minutes before grocery shopping to look through you recent pages.  (Everyone knows grocery shopping takes forever, you can snitch a few minutes.) Or work on it while you're waiting for your daughter after school.  Or while you're waiting for something to download at work.

5. Think about your work.  Thinking is a highly under-rated activity for writers.  You always have your brain with you, right?  Instead of obsessing about politics, direct your brain to think about your WIP.  And write down the ideas you get anyway you can–on a scrap of paper or your phone.

6. Eat lunch with your WIP.  Wouldn't you rather spend time with your manuscript than the latest issue of O?  Okay, I read O with lunch all the time, but when pressed for time, try connecting with your WIP during breaks.  At the very least, it will keep the work fresh in your mind.

7.  Maintain an attitude that there is enough time.   We spend so much time convincing ourselves that there's no time, it's no wonder we're stressed and overwhelmed.  Try taking the opposite tack and affirm to yourself that you have enough time.  This actually does work.  At the very least, you'll be a lot more relaxed.

Create a successful, inspired writing life: This Easter season, try approaching the hoopla and rush a bit differently.  Remind yourself that your writing is worth it and experiment with the above ways to stay with it over the holiday.

What about you?  How do you find time to write during busy periods?  Got any good tips for us?  We'd love to hear them.  And if you enjoyed this article, please share it on social media through the buttons below.


Photograph by Zela.

11 Responses to How to Keep Writing Through Holidays and Other Distractions

  1. Debbie Maxwell Allen 04/04/2012 at 21:38 #

    Charlotte, I always love your lists! Keep them coming.


  2. J.D. 04/05/2012 at 04:50 #

    Good job, Charlotte. Considering # 4, it is easy to leave your work behind except for, maybe, one or two convenient spots. I wonder what the best computer is for carting your manuscript around? Weight, bulk, and battery life are always issues.

  3. Charlotte Dixon 04/05/2012 at 07:25 #

    Thanks, Debbie! Glad you like them and thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting.

  4. Charlotte Dixon 04/05/2012 at 07:27 #

    I know this is heresy for some people, but you could print a few pages out. I just heard Anne Lamott speak last Friday night and she emphasized this over and over again–print pages out! print pages out! I used to do this all the time and then got so I relied on editing on the computer. But at this very moment I have a chunk of my new novel printed out to read. Hmmm, I’m feeling like maybe there is a blog post here….

  5. Milli Thornton 04/13/2012 at 10:56 #

    I agree, Charlotte, there’s nothing like a printed copy. It can give you a whole different view of things. Plus, needed corrections or ways to fix things can jump out at you that the eye had become blinded to by seeing the same familiar thing every time. I firmly believe in looking at a WIP in various formats.

  6. Milli Thornton 04/13/2012 at 10:58 #

    Great tips, every one of them! These are terrific for non-holiday times, as well.

    (I’m glad I’m not the only one who takes forever to do the groceries. I thought I was just reaaaally slooooow! ;~)

  7. Charlotte Dixon 04/13/2012 at 11:02 #

    That’s a good way to put it, Milli, to look at a WIP in various formats!

  8. Milli Thornton 04/13/2012 at 11:42 #

    I also look at mine in Print Preview and it’s amazing how much more stuff jumps out.

  9. Charlotte Dixon 04/13/2012 at 11:49 #

    Good idea. I do that with blog posts and it is truly amazing what you find!

  10. proofreader 10/18/2012 at 03:47 #

    Writing distractions happen to me during summer because there are lots of activities available during this time of the year and this is actually my favorite season. I’d love to go on a vacation to ramble without thinking of my pending articles. I go on vacation once in a while but I never had my dream vacation. I really can’t because I prioritize my work. I think this is the best reason to write; you love and prioritize it.

  11. Charlotte Dixon 10/18/2012 at 07:37 #

    Yes, summertime can be full of distractions.  I love these cold fall days that encourage me to stay home and inside writing! Thanks for commenting.

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