It’s Christmas Eve and many of us probably have a to do list longer than both arms. Pick up the festive meat (or protein alternative), wrap those presents, housework,
get guest rooms ready and generally stress about everyone’s happiness over the next three days. We writers have the added stress of feeling like we should be getting words down on the page, but stressing about writing at Christmas isn’t a productive approach. There’s a balance to be struck, so here are my tips for finding time to write at Christmas.
Don’t Write – Huh? You’re in charge of your writing destiny. If you’ve had a good productive year and you need to recharge, give yourself Christmas off and start again in the new year. If trying to write, on top of everything else, is just going to stress you out, simply don’t write. That”s okay. If you want to write, read on.
Make Lists – If you’ve got a hectic schedule and you want to write, make lists. Get a schedule laid out and find the windows of time where you can write, then add them to the list. Don’t forget to leave some time to catch a breath, so don’t fill every spare moment with writing.
Stare into Space – The turkey’s in the oven and the family are prepping the veg. This is the perfect time to grab a coffee or a mulled wine, find a quiet corner and just stare out of the window. Tell people you don’t want to be disturbed and watch the clouds racing by, listen to the wind (it’s very windy in the UK, at the moment) or watch people arriving at the neighbour’s house with piles of presents. Look at that lonely person walking their old dog – are they lonely or is it just another writing snatching time to think? Let your mind wander. This is an important part of being a writer and may spark an idea or a solution to that scene you’ve been stuck on.
Keep a Pad or Laptop Nearby – Find those small moments to scribble. Perhaps you’re waiting for the water to boil for the spuds or everyone’s watching something you don’t like, on TV. Even five or 10 minutes is enough time to get some dialogue down. I’ve written 500 words in 30 minutes quite often, so keep your laptop open and get writing.
Be an Early Bird – Unless you’ve got small children, the best time to be alone, at Christmas, is to get up early. Sit up in bed or sneak off to the study or the kitchen table and get some writing done, while you wake up with a cuppa.
Yuletide yoga – At the risk of sounding a bit new age, try some yoga. When you find a quiet moment, head to an empty room, lie on the floor, next to a wall and then put your feet up the wall, so you’re lying on your back in an L-shape. Take a deep breath and let it out. You can also bend your knees, if you find straightening them a strain. This inversion gives your tired feet and legs a rest (try rotating your feet and ankles one way and then another) and sends the blood up to your brain. It also gives you a new perspective on things because you literally flip your world upside down. I find this pose relaxing and it also helps me think differently. You could also try it with the kids and have fun being upside down together.
Grab a Friend – Don’t hit the shops to buy more stuff, in the sales, grab a friend and have a write-in, either at home or in a cafe or hotel bars are quite good because they have WiFi and they tend to be a bit quieter. Set aside a morning or afternoon, between Christmas and New Year, to just write or brainstorm and eat cake.
Read a Book – It’s tempting to spend the whole of Christmas just watching TV, but record what you want to watch and take an hour or two to read a book. Simply enjoy it or read it with your writer’s head on and see what the author is doing and how you can apply that to your story. Or even read aloud with your family. This is something people don’t do much any more, which I think is sad, as communal storytelling is part of human history.
Play a Videogame – Some of you have probably bought someone in your family a videogame for Christmas, but wouldn’t dream of exploring the game yourself. Well, these days games employ clever writing and storytelling, so you’re missing out. Try something different and play a game. Ask the resident game expert in your family to show you a game with a good story . Plus it’s a good way to hang out with your loved ones, if they enjoy games.
Enjoy Some Time Off – Winter is a time for recharging. Nature dies back to regain energy for spring and it’s a good time for writers to do the same. If you’ve had an unproductive year, don’t beat yourself up, it won’t make you feel any more creative.Enjoy the time with your family or away from work and relax. Just accept how you feel and let your subconscious bubble away under the surface – you never know where your thoughts will take you.
Do you write at Christmas or do you just enjoy the time off? Add your tips in the comments.
Have a merry Yuletide and we’ll see you in 2016 for a productive year.