Weekend Writing Inspiration: What You Should Know About Writing During The Holiday
December 6, 2019
Even with the best of intentions to keep writing over the holidays, here’s what you should know about navigating the various minefields (and opportunities) of the holiday season as a writer.
- You get to decide how to use your time
For many of us, there’s a lot happening during the holidays. You may be going to parties; buying gifts, traveling, hosting events, managing kids who are off school, cleaning, cooking, baking, and more. It’s a lot! It’s like you’ve suddenly added a part-time job onto your plate, and it can catch you off guard if you’re not paying attention.
As an antidote, make conscious choices about how you spend your time, and think about the role you want writing to play versus all the other opportunities you’ll have available to you. You may decide to take on fewer social engagements so you can spend more time writing, or the other way around!
For some writers, the holidays don’t change their schedules much or may even present bonus writing time and opportunities. If this is you, enjoy it and make the most of a quieter passage of time to write.
- It’s okay to take time off
In my opinion (others disagree, I know) it’s okay and even desirable for writers to take time off from writing and be able to return to their screenplays with fresh eyes after the holidays.
At the same time, be aware that stopping for any length of time typically longer than 24 to 48 hours will make picking your writing back up difficult. So if you opt to take time off, make a plan for exactly which day you’ll begin writing again. Otherwise, the principle of inertia (see the third point, below) will work against you and you’ll find yourself staring into the impeccable eyes of resistance come Jan. 2 (or whichever day you choose to begin writing again) and struggling to reboot your writing.
- Inertia will work for or against you
Newton's first law of motion says “a body at rest remains at rest, or, if in motion, remains in motion at a constant velocity unless acted on by a net external force.”
In terms of writing, this means if you’re not writing, you’re more likely to continue not writing.
If you are writing, you’re more likely to continue writing, unless you’re “acted on” by an external force. For many writers, the holidays are that external force; disrupting routines, habit and momentum. The best way around this is to keep writing through the holidays (even at a rock-bottom minimum of just a few minutes a day). That way, your writing practice will survive the holidays more or less unscathed, and you can rebuild back to more writing time in the new year.
If you’re not already writing consistently, your writing practice is more likely to be disrupted by the holidays. You get to choose how to handle this. For example, you might: 1. Carry on as you are, writing when you can; 2. Increase your consistency to a daily or near-daily practice and build a little momentum before the holidays reach full force; or 3. Decide to take time off and resume in January. The big idea here is to be intentional about your choices and understand their impacts. There’s no wrong choice here.
- Your emotional well-being matters
The holidays can be emotionally challenging for many. Although the holidays are “supposed” to be joyful and cheery, many people struggle with depression, loss and grief. The holidays can also put us into contact with emotional hot buttons and familial triggers we don’t have to deal with the rest of the year. Make sure you have the support you need to navigate these difficulties, whether by reaching out to trusted friends and family or a good therapist or coach. You aren’t alone in this.
On what might feel like the other end of the spectrum, even positive social interactions may be wearing and overstimulating for the introverted and highly sensitive among us (many writers have these traits). Even the fun has an impact on us and our writing bandwidth.
As you plan your writing for the holidays, build in recovery time. If you have to cut a few corners on your writing time, it’s okay to do that.
On the other hand, your writing can serve as your throughline; the thread that carries you through the holidays and keeps you connected to who you truly are. Remember the value of continuing to write to help you stay grounded and centered in the midst of the emotional intensity.
- You are the one who decides writing matters
Sometimes we have family members who don’t support our writing. Annoying as that might be, that’s their business. Your business is doing the work you were put here to do, no matter what. I was delighted to hear from some of my Called to Write community members that they will readily tell friends and family that they have “meetings” or “appointments” in order to create protected and defined time for writing that their loved ones will support more readily, even while traveling over the holidays. It’s perhaps a half-truth because it implies that you’re “working,” but writing is your work after all, and keeping a meeting or appointment with yourself to fulfill your calling seems entirely in keeping with the spirit of being true to yourself.
Your weekend writer’s assignment
Spend a little time this weekend thinking through what your holidays are likely to look like; how personally or emotionally impacted you might be, and how you’d like to handle your writing as you navigate through the holidays this season.
Written by: Jenna AveryJenna Avery is a screenwriter, columnist, and blogger who redesigned her life and career to support her calling to write. She specializes in sci-fi action and space fantasy, and her most recent project is a post-apocalyptic coming-of-age story for a Canadian producer. Jenna is also a writing coach and the founder of Called to Write, where she has helped hundreds of writers overcome procrastination, perfectionism, and resistance so they can get their writing onto the page and into the world where it belongs. Jenna writes about writing, creativity, and calling at calledtowrite.com, for ScriptMag, for Final Draft, and teaches for Screenwriter’s University. Download Jenna’s free guidebooks for writers when you join her mailing list at https://www.calledtowrite.com/mailing-list