Yes, I know. It is the holiday season, and whatever holiday (Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, a pagan solstice celebration, your own made up day) you celebrate, odds are good that things are a bit, shall we say, busier than usual.
And, if you are anything like me (I presume you are, because we writers do tend to have certain traits in common) when things get busy, what’s the first activity to go? Yep, writing. This is clearly ridiculous because writing is the most important thing in the world to me (besides my family, of course). So why do I let my writing practice lapse at the first sign of being busy? Let me count the reasons:
- Because writing takes concentration, and when I’m busy I don’t have enough bandwidth in my brain to work on my project.
- Because in the crush of Christmas activities, writing easily becomes the least urgent item on the to-do list, so it doesn’t get done.
- Because going out to Christmas parties and staying up late wrapping presents throws me off schedule and it is hard to get up as early as I usually do.
- Because people visit from out of town and expect me to be at their beck and call, and really? I want to be. I want to spend time with them.
- Because I ate too much sugar/drank too much wine/insert favorite Christmas vice here and now I don’t feel so good. Surely you don’t expect me to write?
You probably have a few choice arguments of your own to add to the list. But I’m here to tell you why you don’t want to pay any attention to those arguments and carry on with your writing throughout this season, and how you can accomplish this. First the whys:
- Because for me, this is one of the most creative times of the year. The dark days of December engender all kinds of new thoughts and plans and ideas. If I didn’t spend time writing, I’d lose all those.
- Because when I’m Not Writing, I’m an anxious, miserable mess. I feel like there is something missing. I feel weird and out of sorts. Now, listen, the holiday season messes with our emotions enough—do you really want to add an additional layer of anxiety onto it?
- Because I don’t want to have to reinvent the wheel when I start writing again. I want to maintain the momentum I’ve created by writing every day or nearly every day.
- Because it will make me feel better.
- Because it gives me an outlet. When Great-Aunt Matilda tells me my hair looks awful for the tenth time, I can put my anger on the page and let it simmer there instead of inside me.
Yeah right. This is all well and good, but how in the universe am I supposed to accomplish keeping up with my writing. Funny you should ask. I have a few suggestions.
- Lower your standards. Of course, your writing is brilliant and you must labor over every word to make it so. But cut yourself some slack this time of year. Allow yourself to write crap. Which brings me to my next point…
- Do just a tiny bit. So you usually are a writing machine and you devote mountains of time to it every day. This season, write a pebble’s worth. As in, make yourself sit down for five minutes and be satisfied when you are done. Because…
- You need a placeholder. By lowering your standards and lessening the amount of time you require yourself to spend, your keeping your hand in. You are maintaining the momentum and upholding your intention to write regularly. This will serve you very well when Uncle Ralph leaves and your schedule returns to normal.
- And also bear in mind… One of the things I love most about my Christmas tree this year its color-changing lights. When the push of a button the lights switch from colored to white. This appeals to my fickle nature. And you can make the concept work for your writing, too. How? By switching the lights. Try writing in your journal every day during these busy times instead of writing a scene. Write to a prompt, or write a memory
from your childhood. Let the writing be different and fun for a few weeks and see what comes out.
And please, if you have any of your own tricks and techniques for maintaining your writing, share it in a comment
*My knitting readers will realize that this quote sounds familiar, and it is—I based it on the famous Elizabeth Zimmerman quote, “Knit on, with confidence and hope, through all crises.”
**By the way, in my last newsletter I offered Complaint Free bracelets to the first 10 people to ask. I still have a couple left. If you want one, hit reply and send me your address!