They say that it’s the most wonderful time of the year…but is it?
Sure, everything’s lit up for the season with holiday lights. And, of course, there’s holiday shopping and holiday parties and holiday meals and holiday jingles and holiday decorations and holiday ceremonies and holiday concerts and holiday charity events and holiday dances and holiday fundraisers and holiday games and holiday cheer.
This time of year, everything is about the holidays—and
no one only you care about finding time to write around the holidays.
Remember the writing habits you established throughout the year, the ones that inspired you to write every day?
Yeah, the holidays don’t care that you need to write.
Yet it doesn’t have to stop you from writing. You just need to get creative.
You can top your wish list with “time to write more around the holidays.” But Santa isn’t going to put it under the tree with a great big bow. And your family and friends are probably not going to chip in to make that happen either.
It’s up to you to find time to write over the holidays.
Lucky for you, I’ve hemmed and hawed until I found seven creative ways to keep writing over the holidays. If one strategy doesn’t grab you, keep scrolling until you find another one that can work for your crazy holiday schedule.
So, how can you keep writing over the holidays? Here are just some of my ideas.
Travel with a Pen
Driving to and from every holiday celebration? Then scroll to the next strategy. Safety first!
Many of us booked a plane, train, bus or carpool seat for traveling this holiday season. That means having a lot of time on your hands. Why not make the most of your commute by writing?
Of course it’s more relaxing to check out by streaming a movie on your smart device, jamming to your holiday beats for the seventy-seventh time or snuggling near the window with your current page-turner.
But that novel isn’t going to write itself.
Commit to at least an hour of time to write while you’re en route to your holiday destination. Then reward yourself with your favorite travel hobby.
Besides, wouldn’t you like a productive excuse to escape from that awkward conversation with that stranger sitting next to you?
Write Before They Wake
If you have no qualms about waking up early, then this could be the perfect solution for you when it comes to finding time to write over the holidays.
Growing up, my parents rose before 8AM on the weekends so my sisters and I learned to wake up early (that is, to avoid the loud voices or noises downstairs from waking us up). Now that we sisters are adults, I seem to be the only one that has maintained the early bird habit.
Yes, even my parents now sleep in unapologetically.
If waking up before the rest of your holiday crew is the only way to fit writing into your holiday schedule, seize that precious time. It’s tempting to hit snooze when your alarm rings, but remind yourself why you set that alarm in the first place.
Your writing will thank you later for it.
Write When No Creature is Stirring
If writing before sunrise isn’t your style, then writing after sunset can be the best solution for you to find time to write over the holidays.
Once everyone in your holiday party snuggles underneath warm covers for a good night’s sleep, pull out your laptop and get to typing out your story.
If staring at a bright screen this late in the evening hurts your eyes, write by pen and paper. Challenge yourself to write for at least an hour so that your story makes headway before the following day.
You can even push yourself to write for two hours by writing past midnight to get ahead if there’s a day in your holiday schedule where not a minute can be spared for free time.
By now, I’m sure everyone in your holiday gathering knows that you’re a writer and that you’re working on the next best-seller or blockbuster.
Do you think they care that you need time to write over the holidays? Probably not.
If your loved ones are both early risers and night owls, finding time before and after the day starts to write won’t cut it. So a mid-day writing session is the only chance for your story to progress.
This is where your name might be put on the naughty list.
You can be upfront about it. You can say that you plan to step out for an hour at a café or the library for some quality writing time. If you can get genuine support and no slack, then keep it honest.
But if this would send grumbles around the room, you might have to get creative with your excuse.
Offer to pick up a missing ingredient from the grocery store. Say you need to buy a last-minute gift for someone. This will not only show that you did the task (because you have to bring something tangible back with you), but no one will question your need to be gone for an hour to find it.
Be a Storyteller
Like most people, your holiday to-do list exceeds your wish list. There are gifts to buy, presents to wrap, cookies to bake, meals to cook, mantles to decorate, holiday cards to send and a home that needs daily cleaning.
This, of course, on top of everything else you need to do on a daily basis.
If the thought of pausing everything you still need to get done for the holidays seems way out of reach for your holiday schedule, this strategy may bring some holiday cheer back into your story.
No one doubts your desire to write. You just don’t have a free hand to continue your story.
This is where you need to multi-task. Instead of finding time to write over the holidays by stepping away from the festivities, incorporate it into the preparations. While you’re cooking or baking or wrapping gifts, turn on a recording device and tell the next phase of your story out loud. If you don’t have a voice recorder, there are several dictation apps you can download that write out everything you say in the recording then either email you the dictation or save it as a word document file.
By pushing yourself to move your writing from paper to voice, you may find a new rhythm to your story that you wouldn’t have discovered if you stuck to typing or scribbling it out.
Sneak It In Your Schedule
Finding an hour to write over the holidays might be an arduous—and even impossible—task if your loved ones enjoy spending every minute of every day during the season together. This is also true if you found that holiday preparations hijacked every free minute of your life since Black Friday.
When is there time to step away from the festivities and just write?
Rather than dwelling on the fact that an hour’s time to write isn’t going to happen, seek out pockets of time between events or holiday preparation tasks to scribble out some words.
During NaNoWriMo, we challenged ourselves to writing sprints. This is when we set a chunk of time during a Write-In to write as many words as we can to progress the scene. This was done in order to boost word count (since the goal during National Novel Writing Month is to write 50K words in 30 days), but this is a habit that can be performed throughout the year.
It’s time to implement writing sprints into your holiday writing.
Waiting for the cookies to come out of the oven? Write for fifteen minutes! Waiting for the load of sweaters to finish drying in the dryer? Write for fifteen minutes! Waiting for the gravy to finish simmering? Write for fifteen minutes!
Fifteen minutes here and there throughout the day can quickly add up to an hour. You’ll also be more prepared what to write next if you brainstorm while cooking or shopping.
Desperate times call for desperate measures.
When all else fails, sometimes you need to get your writing in during the festivities. But slapping a pen on paper in front of your gathered group is neither polite nor socially acceptable.
It’s time to fill up on liquids.
Make sure you’re seen with a glass of water in your hands at all times. Then every hour, excuse yourself to use the restroom. Instead of walking into the restroom, walk into your bedroom or the party’s coat room and crank out fifteen minutes of solid writing.
Four excuse-mes can add up to a solid hour’s worth of writing—and all without missing most of the festivities!
While writing is an important commitment in your life, be mindful about keeping a balance between your writing goals and spending time with your loved ones this holiday season. Neither they should feel second best to your writing nor should you feel like your writing doesn’t matter to your family and friends.
So have a conversation about it. Tell your family and friends early on in the season how important it is for you to find time to write over the holidays. You may be surprised by their support in helping you make that time so that you don’t have to sacrifice the festivities or your writing this holiday season.
Isn’t that the best way to spread holiday cheer?