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Is it possible to write over the festive season?

Advanced tips for writers

Is it possible to write over the festive season?

First of all, I’m assuming you’re reading this because you’re wondering whether it’s possible to carve out some time to write over the festive season. You’re feeling ambivalent about it and want some help deciding. If you knew you had the time, space and inclination to write, you could simply schedule your writing time and show up, right? And if you knew you definitely wanted to take time off, you’d do that. You’ve only read this far because you want some tips for working this conundrum out for yourself. OK. Keep reading.

So what’s stopping you?

Consider when and where you usually write. Is this difficult because of the festive season? Why? What’s the alternative? What’s your main motivation or your biggest ‘why’ when it comes to writing? Does turning up to write conflict with any of your other values? Often simply being consciously aware of the situation helps us to feel better about it. Try to do this without any judgement.

Showing up to do yoga (with a side of Tom and Jerry)

I’ll give you a non-writing-related example from my own life. I’m trying to do yoga every day by following videos by a yoga teacher on YouTube.

  • When and where do I usually do my yoga? In the lounge with YouTube on the TV.
  • Is this difficult because of the festive season? Why? Yes. This morning my son wanted to watch cartoons on TV in the lounge.
  • What’s the alternative? I could have given up and watched cartoons with him – that wouldn’t have been ‘wrong’ because it chimes with my values – but instead I decided to move my mat to the other side of the room and follow a short video on my iPad. Tomorrow I could get up earlier or practise when he’s in bed instead.
  • What’s my main motivation? Getting stronger and learning to relax.
  • Does turning up conflict with any of my other values? Today it potentially clashed with the value of ‘spending time with my family’ so I kept it short.

Simply by posing these questions to yourself, you may be getting an idea of whether – for you – it’s possible to write over the festive season. Not there yet? OK, read on and I’ll give you my best three answers: ‘yes’, ‘no’ and ‘maybe’.

Yes! It’s possible to write over the festive season

You can turn up and write any time you want to, just like you would at other times of the year. You may have to be assertive if you’re living with other people, and put aside some time for yourself. (It’s actually a good excuse to get away from it all for a bit.) If you’re on your own, you may have to be assertive with yourself! I suggest making the transition into your writing time as easy as possible. Plan your day in advance, make a date with yourself, set up your writing space in advance, and set reminders.

Scheduling your writing session during a special time, for example, half an hour before you usually get up, adds an element of ritual to the process, which – for some people anyway – makes it easier to stick to. If this is true for you, you can add other things to your writing ritual such as making your favourite hot drink or using the same notebook and pen. I leave mine next to my bed each evening so I can easily pick them up the next day and I drink my early morning up of tea out of the same mug!

Themed-writing

A quick aside. Want to try writing themed material that ties in with a particular time of year? Well it’s better to write it during the season concerned (whether that season is early spring, a heat wave in the middle of August, Halloween or the festive season). Unless you’re writing for a blog, you can’t usually pitch or submit the work during the season concerned, because publication takes a while. Magazines often start working on their winter editions in the summer, for example. Write it at the most appropriate time and make a note to pitch or submit the work next year with plenty of notice. In other words, now is the perfect time to write winter-themed or Christmas-themed material but not the perfect time to sell it.

No! It’s not possible to write over the festive season

I generally believe that most things are possible if we set our minds to it, but sometimes a situation is just too difficult to get writing done without a struggle, and who wants to struggle right now? There are occasions when it’s a good idea to take the easier path, and anyway, there’s nothing wrong with having some time off from our writing. It can be a very good thing to let the work mull for a bit. Perhaps our mental load (the responsibilities we have going round our heads) is simply too great at the moment.

If you’re living with others, it may be that there are too many demands on your time. If you are own your own, perhaps you simply feel that writing over the festive season would be a stretch too far. If this sounds good to you, go for it. Be nice to yourself. As we traditionally make New Year’s Resolutions around about now, you could make some plans for your writing for next year instead. Making plans in note form when you get a chance is probably easier than writing.

Maybe it’s possible to write over the festive season.

Here’s where you’re allowed to hedge your bets. (This is my favourite answer!) You could try to fit in a couple of writing sessions, making it as easy as possible to turn up to them, and see if they work. Don’t be too ambitious. You could write without any expectations, no word limits or targets or deadlines, simply start and see what happens. You could write to get what you’re thinking down on paper. You could write in bed in your PJs. You could look at a couple of January deadlines for competitions and jot down some ideas. You could make some notes. Maybe you want to make a list of what you can see outside your window, but you don’t want to work on any major projects.

If it doubt try this:

If you’re not sure whether you want to write over the festive season, try this. First make it as easy as possible to turn up. Get your notebook or computer ready, in the place you’re going to write, somewhere it won’t be disturbed. If you’re a morning person, tomorrow morning get up ten minutes earlier, and write for ten minutes while you’re still in bed. If you’re an evening person, spend ten minutes writing before winding down for bed. How did it feel?

  • I was horribly distracted. Solution: have some time off.
  • I still feel ambivalent. Solution: Try the same again tomorrow but do it for 15 minutes. Gradually increase the time each day.
  • Great! I loved it. Solution: Get your planner out and schedule a longer writing session for tomorrow.

More soon. Until then, happy writing! (or not)

Louise xx

 

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