For as long as I can remember, December has been a creative time for me. This used to puzzle me. Why would the darkest time of the year be a rich, fertile period? For so many, the gloomy short days are depressing and anything but creative. Wouldn't it make more sense for my wildly creative time to be in, say, mid-summer, when the days are long and gardens (and life) is fully abloom?
But then I remembered the season of Advent. For many in the Christian tradition, the month of December signifies a period of waiting. A time of preparation. A run-up to the big event–the birth of Jesus on Christmas day. (Never mind that even the Pope himself says we got the actual date wrong.)
This realization helped to explain things. No matter what faith you practice, or whether you are religious, or spiritual, or agnostic, this time of year is imbued with the energy of preparation. And preparation can be crazy creative.
Coincidentally, however, it's also a crazy busy time of year. There are trees to decorate, presents to buy and wrap, family dinners to arrange. So how best to balance a need for creative preparation with the demands of the holiday? Here are a few suggestions.
1. Take time to make time. One of Mahatma Gandhi's forms of meditation was spinning (yarn, not partaking in aerobic activity). One day when he had an especially busy schedule he told his aides, "It's a busy day. I better take extra time to spin today." (This is a paraphrase. I have searched and searched for the exact quote. If anyone knows it, I'd love to get it from you.) It can be counter-intuitive, but taking time to meditate or journal might well be the best way to fly through your duties. Such activities center and calm you and enable you to release your worry and angst over getting things done, thus giving you extra time to work on creative projects.
2. Simplify. I'm crazy about Christmas traditions. Probably a bit too crazy. I love the holidays and put a lot of pressure on myself to do them up right. But the last few years I've realized that what I love most about the holidays is spending time with friends and family. And so I've allowed myself to keep some of the holiday decorations in their boxes. And I buy far fewer gifts for people. I enjoy the holidays a lot more and as an added benefit, I actually have time to write during this season.
3. Dive in. Or, make every minute count. Whatever you're doing, do it well. Do if fully. Do it with a whole heart and a whole mind. (Except for those times you're standing in line at the post office or the grocery store. Then, do this.) Chunk your creative work down into easily doable sessions. You can get a ton done in a few minutes if you are focused!
4. Remember who you are. Who are you? What's most important to you? 2013 is my year to be a novelist, the job description I've wanted all my life. But as I get wrapped up in my teaching and blogging and other duties, a day or two can go by without me participating in activities related to writing novels. At this time of year especially, I can forget who I am. Remind yourself of who you are often and that will lead you back to your center.
5. Bring love to it. You've got two choices in how you can respond to a given situation–with love or with fear. Though it's not always easy, responding with love is far and away the better option! It is that difficult and that simple.
What are your strategies for remaining creative during this time? How do you enjoy the gifts of the Advent season?
**If you're having difficulty finding time to write this holiday season (or any time of the year) why not consider the gift of coaching for yourself? There's no faster way to make progress on your writing than to work one-on-one with a coach. Learn more about my coaching here.
Photo by benedeki.