One of the biggest challenges during the holidays or any busy time of year (finals, major work projects, etc.) is how to keep up with your writing. I’ve listed below five suggestions that have helped me stay on track, and I hope they help you, too.
1. Scale down.
Figure out the basic minimum required word count, pages, or chapters for the month (or whatever the time period; weeks or days even) and keep that target in mind. More work = more stress. Keep writing goals to a minimum when there is a lot going on. Taking on too much can cause a meltdown or panic and then a complete shutdown. That’s never helpful.
2. Take detailed notes.
If you have an idea for a scene, story idea, or breakthrough, etc., grab a notepad or your phone and take a few seconds to jot it down. Write as many details as possible. You may find the ideas continue to flow and you end up with more than expected. That’s a great thing. Write as much as you can for as long as you can. These notes will help you when you have a chance to sit down and get some writing done.
3. Write in small bursts.
You can accomplish a lot during a sprint. When you have a few moments, whether it’s a half hour or only ten minutes, write in a flurry. Use your notes if you have them to keep yourself focused. Allow yourself to flesh out your ideas. A plan, goal, or notes are great tools to utilize during such a short time frame. But don’t force it. If you need to sit and free flow write, then do so. Whatever gets words on the page.
4. Carve out some sacred writing time.
Talk to your family (or friends, roommates, anyone who has a claim on your time) and let them know you need at least an hour to yourself a few days a week (or even daily if possible). Pick a time when there are fewer chances of disruptions like after bedtime or at the crack of dawn, or on your lunch break. Brainstorm times you think you can be alone for a block of time and make it yours. Including the people around in the decision-making process helps them stick to the plan and they may have helpful ideas. Keeping it real: if the people around you aren’t supportive of your writing, find a time where nobody is around, even if you have to get up an hour earlier a few times a week. I know that can be hard but you deserve time to fully focus on your craft even if the people around you don’t understand that.
5. Give yourself a break.
Unless you have a major deadline looming, remember to ease off. Maybe even plan to take a short leave of absence from your writing and try to enjoy the world around you. There will probably be plenty of activities and interactions that are great scope for the imagination. Take notes! Observe the absurdities or drama around you and file it away for later use in a story or blog. Sometimes a break can prepare you for more writing and better ideas when the busiest times of the year are over. I’ve had major breakthroughs in my writing after three days of not thinking about my book at all. Then one day, boom. Magic happens. There is no shame in taking some time off if you can afford to. And sometimes, you can’t afford NOT to.
Do you have any suggestions or ideas that help keep you going during the busy times? If so, please comment below!