Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Stress Free Guide to Writing During the Holidays

How do you fit your writing in with everything else during the holidays? I'll let you in on a secret of mine...

I don't worry about it. Honestly. If I don't get to my manuscript today or tomorrow, that's fine. It's going to be waiting for me no matter what. Do I want to work on it every night? Sure. But I know that's not quite feasible right now. And I don't beat myself up about it.

You may be wondering if I'm dedicated enough to my writing. I'm sure there are many people who have a set writing schedule no matter if it's Christmas Eve or a mundane Monday. I am in awe of those people. Of course, I might have to do the same thing one day when I'm under deadline to my agent or editor.

But if I don't stress about my writing over the holidays, that doesn't mean I'm less dedicated. In fact, in my particular situation (which may not be yours), I figure there is enough stress of this season without me throwing in another guilt trip. And you know what? Because I have taken the stress off my shoulders, it has made me want to write more. I'm eager to go home and work on my manuscript. Why? Because I want to, not because I am forcing myself. Other times during the year I may force myself to sit down and write because, let's face it - there are plenty of times when we need to do that. But during Christmas? Nope. I'm not going to do it. There are enough things going on without me becoming a drill sergeant. There's plenty of time for that during the rest of the year.

The Christmas season is truly my favorite time of year. Why do I want to spoil it with unnecessary guilt and stress? I want to enjoy it. I've made a few changes this year that have really helped. I did most of my shopping online, I didn't rush to decorate my house, and I only baked the handy premade cookie dough from the store. And most importantly, I make sure and listen to my Christmas music every chance I get. The result? My stress level has plummeted. I have time to enjoy my Christmas decorations. I can sit down for an hour or two at night and work on my novel and actually want to do it. My children aren't nearly as cranky from being dragged from store to store. In short, I'm much more content.

Your situation may be completely different from mine. In fact, I'm betting it probably is. But for me, these ideas work. And hey - I'm all about relieving the tension in my shoulders!


  1. Thanks for this Melissa. I often struggle to write in everyday life because of my health etc. You are so right. It isn't worth worrying about. One thing I've learned this year is that my writing will always be there, waiting for me.

    You have a wonderful mindset. Family times should be treasured and it doesn't mean you're not a dedicated writer.

    Congratulations on getting the Christmas season wrapped up without the guilt. We can all learn from you.

    Sue :-)

  2. For me, where I write first thing early the AM, I usually keep going through the holidays - except for Christmas morning of course. It doesn't get in the way of anything, and the only other thing I would be doing is sleeping. Although if I wake up and feel like sleeping in one morning...I'll probably give in to it!

  3. Great attitude Melissa!!! I think you have it just right - I KNOW how dedicated you are to your writing, but we all know family is more important.

    Just wish I could be like Kelly and could write in the mornings.

  4. Have to/want to - Great Advice!
    I've been leaning back towards writing because I love it, trying to relieve some of the pressure. Looks like you have it down pat!
    Happy holidays Melissa!

  5. The whole point of holidays -- holy days -- is to celebrate.

    Remove whatever stress you can.

  6. "You may be wondering if I'm dedicated enough to my writing."

    Writing does not usurp family time in my world. I do not write on weekends, or on important family time days. This forces me to be dedicated on the days I can write.

    So, in the end I write 150k words a year. Until I become more than an amateur, that is good by me.

  7. Amen, sister! Thanks for sharing your wise approach to writing during the holidays. You're writing for you, your career, anyway, so why stress yourself out? It's all going to get done. Now enjoy those holidays!

  8. I agree with you completely, Melissa. We're stressed out enough as it is, without putting more on our over-burdened shoulders. The writing will get done... it's not as if we're in a race. Now Merry Christmas!

  9. It's tough to write this time of year because of all the cookie crumbs I get in my keyboard.

    This really isn't the time to worry about it, but sometimes it is also the time when we get a spike in our creativity. I have been known to write on Christmas Day. After the 30 seconds it takes the kids to open presents, we have a lag time where I don't have anything to do but suck down mimosas and write.

  10. Totally agree. I gave myself December off and have been planning two stories and wamt to dive into craft books and READ!! The pleasure of reading is just wonderful :)

  11. And another "Thank you!" from me. :D I've been stressing over not writing like I should be when I ought to relax and enjoy the break. Now, if I could just dynamite Mr. Robin out of his recliner and play some Christmas music, I might actually get into the spirit of the season.


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