Monday, November 21, 2011

Writing Through the Holidays

Yes, you can find a way to write through the holidays!  The question is do you need to or even want to?  If the answer is yes, then it probably will take some pre-planning and the patience of a saint.

'Tis the Season!  But then it quite often is, because holidays come throughout the year.  Not only holidays but things like the beginning of school, summer vacation, bad weather, you name it. This season, from just after Halloween until after the first of the year, is still usually the busiest and manages to claim the most time.

Learning to manage holidays and our writing isn't easy.  Add NaNoWriMo into the equation, and I'm amazed that writers come of out this with their minds still intact.  I applaud those who are involved this year and any year.  It takes a lot of fortitude and old-fashioned stubbornness, coupled with a strong desire and the best of intentions to attempt it.  Anyone who gets involved is a winner!  But writing during the busiest of times really can be done.

While it might be a little late for Thanksgiving planning for those doing NaNo, the next 1+ month promises to be as hectic as always.  It's time to put our heads together and look for solutions and shortcuts that will net us even a few extra minutes.  Here's my list of suggestions.  Feel free to add your own!

  • Set aside a specific time to write and just do it.  While it might be hard to wrap your mind around your plot and your characters, after rushing around to buy last minute food or gifts, it can be a relief to simply sit down, take a deep breath, and let your creative mind take over.
  • Get family and friends to help by requesting that you not be disturbed during that specified time.  I'll always remember being told early on in my writing "career" that telling your children not to bother you at all, unless there's blood, smoke, or flames, is acceptable.  Bribing always works well, too.
  • If you're NaNo-ing and find your time being usurped by traditions that can't be escaped, check out the NaNoWriMo forum.  You probably aren't alone, and others will be happy to share their secrets and encouragement.
  • Keep in mind at all times, that we all deserve "Me Time," especially during the holidays.  If your family isn't yet trained to this, it's past time to do it.  If it means a trip to the library for peace and quiet (and some undisturbed writing time) or a visit to Starbucks with whatever-mocho in hand, then go for it.  Just remember that you really do have to go home again, sooner or later.
  • If you haven't already cut down on those things that aren't top priority, then stop and take a look at your list of things to do.  Try to trim it to 3/4, then 1/2.  Don't scratch off anything that is an absolute must, but do pare down whatever you can.  Doing so will not only give you more time, but definitely can be a big stressbuster.
  • When it comes to food and the Big Meal, Family Style, share the joy by having others bring their favorite dishes, already prepared, if possible.  Many families enjoying getting together to make the meal.  If that's your family tradition, enjoy it!
  • If you'll be away from home, take your laptop or a pad of paper.  While the men are snoozing in front of the parade of football games, and the ladies have collapsed in the kitchen, find a quiet spot where you can do ten or fifteen minutes of writing.  More if possible!  But don't let it keep you away from family, and put it aside when your time is up.
Happy Holiday Writing!

A good holiday is one spent among people whose notions of time are vaguer than yours.
John B. Priestly 

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