Every time holidays or big events roll around, I’m torn between: 1) writing anyway, it’s my job or 2) using the time to take a break. This year, I did a little bit of both.
Because I was traveling, I took the entire week of Thanksgiving off from writing, but still thought about ideas for my current novel.
On the other hand, even though both my brothers got married this year and we had plenty of family visiting from out of town, I still made time to hit my daily word count goals (yes, even on the days of the weddings. I could afford 35-40 minutes for 1,000 words).
Why go one way or the other? You’re probably tired of me talking about mindfulness, but that’s what it comes down to: What do I need at this time?
- Could I use the break?
- Are the pressures of the holidays too overwhelming to also squeeze in writing time?
- Have I been working nonstop on a project and need to take a step back to clear my head?
- Do I want to reach my current goals regardless of travel?
- Do I want a break from the craziness of the event and my writing is my sanctuary where I’ll get it?
It really comes down to you, your WIP, and your current needs. I say current because they probably change just as much as mine do ;)
If you’re one the brave souls who wants to keep working on the WIP this holiday season without losing your mind and without missing out on family time and parties, here’s what you can do:
1) Rearrange your schedule to make time for writing before you spend time with your family. In the past when I’ve either had family in town or have visited family, I’ve woken up before them so I can get my writing out of the way for the day. My family doesn’t know I’m working because they’re asleep, so no one can say I’m choosing my novel over them. Win!
2) Write before you go to a holiday party, not after. You know you’re not going to want to sit down a write after hours of socializing and eating too much, so schedule time to “get ready for the party” by adding 30 minutes to an hour of writing time. No need to wake up early!
3) Outline instead of writing. While everyone’s gathered around watching a movie, you can be curled up on the couch with a notebook in hand, outlining ideas for your WIP. I find in my family, people get more upset if you’re on a laptop or phone, but for some reason, notebooks are totally allowed, so this way, I can still work on my story even if I’m not actively adding to my word count.
4) Talk it out. While driving to visit family this past Thanksgiving, my husband and I talked through the entire second act of my novel, and I didn’t write one idea down. Despite the fact that I can’t write while in a moving vehicle, I really didn’t need to. What I needed in that moment was to talk my ideas out loud with someone and then let them be. When I finally did get back to my WIP a week later, I felt much more confident in developing the second act. You don’t necessarily have to have a pen at the ready. Sometimes, just tossing ideas around is enough to stimulate your creativity.
5) Tell them writing is your job. And of course, you can always let friends and family know that writing is your job, and you have to work a couple of hours today. You respect their jobs and ask that they respect yours.
Worst case, you lock yourself in the basement and put on headphones, right? :)
I’d love to know if you like to continue writing during holidays or if you prefer to use the time for a break? (Or are you like me and it totally depends on the moment?)