The Gift We Can Give Ourselves – Focus on our Writing
By Loni Cameron
It’s mid-December, and the holiday revels have started. More and more events are demanding your time. Then there is the planning, the shopping, the wrapping, the decorating, and …just getting the usual stuff done in amongst it all. And all you want to do is sneak away to your writing cave (I mean, office), and work away at that novel (or story, or article) that has been pressing at your mind. Here are a few ways to sneak in some extra writing time this holiday season.
1. Achievable Goals – Don’t go for your typical 1000 or 500 words a day. With everything going on, you don’t have time for that, and you’ll just frustrate (and/or depress) yourself. How about 50 words? How about writing for just 10 minutes? Add a few sentences to the last paragraph you were working on. Something is better than nothing!
2. Wake Up Early – This isn’t doable for everyone, but if you can manage it, wake up an extra half hour early (or even an hour if you’re brave) and get writing. It’ll be quiet, and no one will be demanding (or needing) your time.
3. Schedule your time – This is one of the most frequent tips on my writing lists, and that’s because I find it works. If you have 30 minutes after work, before your child’s holiday concert, etc., put writing in the schedule. Tell your (supportive) partner what you’re doing, add it to the shared family calendar, and make good use of the time.
4. The Little Notebook – This is the writer’s secret weapon. A small, discrete notebook that fits in your tiniest purse or back pocket, that you can pull out whenever an idea strikes you.
5. Stay Up Late – Not an early riser? How about a night owl? Stay up an extra 15 minutes past your bedtime and get in a few extra words at the end of your last chapter.
6. Sneak Away – I’m serious. It’s a big group gathering. Is anyone going to miss you if you sneak away for 15 minutes? Make sure you have that little notebook handy and work on that opening sentence that’s been driving you mad.
7. Note-taking Apps – It might be the holidays, but it’s also the 21st century and many of our friends and relatives spend some to a lot of time on their phones. If they can, so can you! Just don’t be wasting time on your phone. Whether it’s with the Scrivener app, Word or Bear, there’s an App for you and your writing needs. Get on there and capture the idea, the paragraph, or whatever you need to do for your writing.
8. Don’t Be Discouraged – Every word on the page is a step forward. Refer back to #1 – Something is better than nothing.
9. Research – You might not have time to sink your teeth into your big project, but you can do the research. Look up the topic of your book, read articles, save links to online resources. Or create character sheets. Dive into your main character, your villain, important secondary characters, and find out what makes them tick. Even draw a map. Do all the things that your story needs that doesn’t involve the actual writing.
10. Self-care – I know it doesn’t seem like a “writing tip”, but it is. If you’re tired, stressed, over-scheduled, you’re not going to be in a creative mood. Remember to eat well. There are a lot of rich foods and deserts that come out during the holidays, have some fruit and veggies in between for balance. Exercise: if you have an exercise routine, try to stick to it. Even take a brief walk in the snow, with your notebook. (You never know when the writing bug may strike!)
Granted, not all of these may work for you. But hopefully a couple of them will be appealing and workable. I think it’s important to remember #1 and #8. Hopefully you get some writing this holiday season, and if not, don’t worry about it. January is just around the corner. And we all know what January means!