8 Tips for Writing During the Holidays

Song of the Day: Crazy Train by Ozzy Osbourne

We’re all slaves to the grind. For those who celebrate the holidays, it is especially so around this time of year. Braving the malls, planning festivities, wrapping gifts, baking, visiting friends and family (including those you’d rather not), mailing greeting cards and packages, tree trimming, searching for the perfect holiday dress or ugly sweater—the list goes on and on. This on top of all the *INSERT QUOTATION MARK FINGER WAGS* regular responsibilities we bear to our families, jobs, and home. It can all be overwhelming.

So who has time to write?

Here are 8 tips to keep the home fires burning, so to speak.

Set a realistic goal. It can be 100 words a day, 5,000 words for the month, or editing a chapter a week. A little can go a long way in the end. Whatever works for you. The important thing is to do something writerly, regularly.

Waiting for the cookies to bake? Before the next batch goes in, list the next chapter’s plot points.

Caught in line for gift wrap, post office, or customer service? Use your phone’s note pad feature to jot down story ideas, a dialogue exchange, or transitional paragraph. Don’t have a Smartphone, or ,if you are like me and still learning how to use it? Keep a small note pad with you.

Waking up early or going to bed late is laughable. But for some, it is conceivable. Let’s face it. You’re not getting any sleep. You’re too strung out on finding that perfect gift for that one person (read: in-law) who is impossible to please.

Use a voice recorder to capture your brilliant prose while you gift wrap.

Be inspired. The holidays bring out the best and worst (think Black Friday freak-out frenzy buying) in people. Watch and listen to those around you. From everyday heroes to Grinchy no-goods, great attributes abound for a cast of characters. Also take time to really appreciate the magic and beauty of the season. Record details or how you feel when you see a magnificent snow-covered landscape, a yard decorated Griswold-style, dressed storefront windows, children laughing on an ice rink, the twinkling lights wrapped around a palm tree on an empty beach. Don’t let that emotion or setting get lost in the hustle and bustle.

Change your venue. Got a half-hour to spare? (Stop laughing, it could happen.) Head to a coffee shop, get comfortable on a park bench, sit in your car, or wherever is not a normal place for you to write. Sounds odd, I know. But sometimes the change stirs the muse. Pop in your headphones, open your notebook or laptop, and give yourself over to writing.

Be held accountable! This is a fantasmic trick to use any time of year. Grab a few writing buddies, either in person or virtually, set your goals, and report your progress. It is amazing how productivity increases when you have to answer to your unforgiving friends.

Okay, so not everyone is a type-A personality like myself. But even I don’t manage all these tips at once. However, I adapt to the ones that work best for me. And I bet your ugly holiday sweater you can, too.

What do you do to keep writing during the holidays? Please share!


12 Responses to 8 Tips for Writing During the Holidays

  1. Some terrific suggestions, Jenn! Writing is one of those odd things for everyone who does it; some days are good, some are fair, some stink, but sometimes it all comes together and the words flow like they are supposed to. Personally, I always keep in mind Stephen King’s answer to the age-old question, “How do you write your books?” King smiled, and replied, “One word at a time, man…. one word at a time….”

    Always thought that was the perfect answer!


    • jbrayweber says:

      Oh yes, William. You are right. Not everyday will we be productive. There are days I’m all gun-ho about writing, but the darn words just don’t materialize. Other days, I’ve written a scene, set up a transitional paragraph, edited a couple of chapters, and feel pretty smug about it, too. 😉

      Stephen King is the master, and that quote *is* perfect. I bow down to him.


  2. I’ve done several of those throughout the year and I have to say they work. I used the note pad feature on my phone to write a 600 word scene while waiting for an oil change. My poor thumbs were sore, but I didn’t lose the idea.

    Heck, I would even suggest taking a pad of paper and pen into the restroom with you. If you’re in there long enough, they won’t bother you. 🙂 I know, too much, right? But, if it’s all the time you’ve got…

    Great post Jenn.


    • jbrayweber says:

      I hear you, Melanie. I do many of these things all year long. I’m so pressed for time with all the volunteering I do, I have to fill the pockets of minutes I do get with writing or editing. I keep a clipboard with me at all times. I do draw the line at bathroom breaks. 😉


  3. These are fabulous tips, Jenn! I actuallycarried a tiny spiral pad and pen (thank you, Raven Raye) on a string around my neck for jotting notes earlier this week. What I’m doing this year to write through the holidays is setting a new novel that takes place during the holidays. (I kick started with NaNo.) Amazing all the inspiration and people watching–and in my case, travel with lost suitcases in Christmas decorated airports. Warm woolen coats… Christmas tunes too. And baking…


    • jbrayweber says:

      The airport can really give you a diverse crop of people to watch, Nancy.
      Good luck on your holiday-themed story. Those are really popular. 🙂


  4. Wonderful tips. Thank you.


  5. Okay, no one gets to bet my ugly holiday sweater but me. 😉 Just sayin’! Good advice. I can (and have) used most of these tips any time of the year. After all, when are we not busy? Thanks, Jennifer. Good reminders that where there’s a plot, there’s a way to write it down.


    • jbrayweber says:

      I hear ya, Kayelle. There’s hardly a moment that I am not busy. Doesn’t matter what time of year. But the added stress of the holidays, no matter how prepared I am, still derails me at times.
      Your ugly sweater is safe. Promise. LOL!


  6. Only Jenn could manage to bring a sense of chaos to the holidays…

    Thank goodness we’ve got you!


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