During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, I generally throw up my hands and ditch any grandiose ideas of writing. After all, we have a dozen grandkids (yes, you read that right), and just last week, I wrapped and shipped nearly fifty gifts. They all live out of state, so it’s an enormous undertaking. Half are babies and toddlers, so we can’t yet go the gift card route, but I digress.
This site is about writing. December is usually not.
However, my contract (where I must have had too much wine after I agreed to a December deadline for Book 3 in my Coconuts series), dictated otherwise. Actually, I had a November deadline, so I wasn’t completely bonkers when I agreed to the date, but my daughter had baby #12 in October, I flew to L.A., then since Arizona was so close, we went there to see my stepdaughters’ ten children. After that, I promptly got sick. For weeks. Cue antibiotics, Advil, two pillows (to alleviate the coughing), and couch rest. So…my November deadline got pushed to December, and here I am wondering how it will all happen.
Finishing before Christmas was (and still is) my goal, but you see, I’m a pantser. My characters take over. Also, I overwrite. By a lot. I’ve already moved over 30,000 words to Book 4 in my Coconuts series in order to get my novel down to a manageable size. However, my characters just love for me to hit potholes and miss turns, so I added another 4,000 words over the weekend. My word count is currently 86,000. I really, really wanted to hold it below 85k because…editing.
Enough about my crazy schedule and writing process. It really is possible to carve out writing time in December. (I can hear you laughing.) No really. Here are my tips for writing during the holidays:
- Get the gifts bought early but don’t worry about wrapping (unless you have to ship like me.)
- Online shopping is a must if you’re in a rush. I took advantage of Cyber Monday deals and the sales keep coming!
- Remove clutter (wrapping paper debris) from your line of sight so you can concentrate on your work.
- Minimize social commitments to must-do commitments.
- Turn the lights on the tree or light candles, even during the day. You’ll at least feel festive while hunched over your keyboard. Play holiday music in the background unless it annoys you. I need silence when I’m almost finished with a manuscript.
- Mainline coffee. Duh.
- If you write into the evening like I’ve been doing lately, take a few nights off with your significant other to watch a holiday movie, go out to eat, or enjoy a nice glass of wine together. I’m all for rewards and making sure your loved ones know you realize they still exist.
- Curtail your time on social media. This is a tough one for me. I have a lot of giveaways for readers during this time, and let’s face it, those darn Christmas memes are hilarious.
- Finally, my best tip is to set the kitchen timer! This really works. It forces me to focus for a given time. When the buzzer goes off, I get up, move around, eat, go to the restroom, and take a peek at my pretty tree or (gasp) step outside and get some fresh air. I set my timer for 45 minutes multiple times every afternoon and evening. When it goes off, after I do a lap around the house, occasionally get on the treadmill and refill my coffee, I reset the timer for another 45 minutes, and another, and another. I really stick to this method. It’s like having a coach saying, “Give me ten more pages!” Try it. This is also a great way to do writing sprints.
I could go on but…deadline. And my buzzer went off. 🙂 Good luck with balancing writing and the holiday craziness. Remember to have fun, enjoy the festivities, and hunker down to squeeze in writing time.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Holidays, and happy writing! http://www.bethcarter.com (By the way, I have not updated my website, nor my blog, so maybe take a month before you look!)