It's officially November, which means holiday season has arrived! If you are anything like me, this means you are thinking of all of the presents you need to buy, how many different family members you're going to be able to safely see during Covid, and what kind of pie you'll bake for Thanksgiving! Of course your struggles may be different than mine, but my main point is the holidays are not an easy time to be writing a novel. However, that doesn't mean you should stop writing.
Many of you are probably thinking, "I can just write my novel after the New Year. It will be like a New Years resolution!" or "There is no way I'll have time to write with everything else that is planned!" Well, I am here to beg you not to give into those fears. I know how hard it is. I wrote three novels over this past year and would you like to know when I started writing the first one? October 2019 - RIGHT before holiday season. So I'm here to tell you that you can do it. You can write your story. Heck, maybe you can even finish your story and make your new year's resolution to write another one! I'm not saying you need to write three books in a year. I am just encouraging you not to use the holidays as an excuse, because I promise you’re capable of writing during them with proper preparation and mindset.
Now you might be saying, "Okay, Skye. I hear you. I need to keep following my dreams. But how??" (I hope that is what you're saying at least.)
Well, I have some tips and tricks for surviving the holiday season just for you!
Tip #1 - Schedule Your Writing Time
Since I am a morning writer I will usually schedule myself to wake up an hour or two earlier each morning to write before my day job. Those extra two hours are spent either writing, editing, or marketing. Basically, they are spent working on my author business. Whatever I need to do for that day to keep myself on track, that's what I am doing.
If you are a night owl, maybe you schedule this time at night. Or maybe on your lunch break! It doesn't have to be an hour, it could be fifteen to thirty minutes. The important part is that you actually stick to the schedule. Set an alarm on your phone if you need to, but don't make excuses.
Tip #2 - Read
"But Skye... how am I supposed to find time to read and write?"
For me, I schedule 30 minutes of my day for reading. Yes, I schedule it, because if I don't I might fall down that internet rabbit hole of Christmas Shopping and Pie recipes! That is time I could have been studying my craft and escaping reality. Studies show that reading can reduce your stress levels among many other health benefits, so why is it that we put it on the back burner as writers?
I always recommend reading right before bed. We all know we shouldn't be laying on our phones scrolling to social media at night, and yet, we do it. So what if we replaced 30 minutes of our social media scrolling with 30 minutes of reading instead? Try it out for a week. I promise you will wake up happier!
Tip #3 - Find an Accountability Partner
Honestly, you should find one of these for all year long, but especially during the holiday season. An accountability partner is another writer (who is also writing during the holidays) who you can text, email, call, or whatever form of communication you choose, and say "Hey, how'd your writing go today?" You'll be far less likely to skip your morning writing for that extra hour of sleep if you have someone holding you accountable.
Tip #4 - Learn to Say No
This one has taken me a long time to figure out. I'm a people-pleaser. If you ask me to do something, my immediate response is "YES!" but sometimes you have to know how to say no. Your book is important. Others may not always realize that, but I do. Your story is important. Your voice is important. So if someone is asking you to do something and it takes away time from your schedule, it's okay to say no. Now I'm not saying never do favors for people, I'm just saying remember why you're writing this story. I know there probably aren't many people in your life saying this, so I (a stranger on the internet who happens to have published three books) am here to tell you that you're not selfish for wanting to work on your book.
Tip #5 - Stop Feeling Guilty
Yes, this one kind of blends with the last one, but it's so important, especially for the wives and mamas out there. Don't get me wrong, the single ladies and gentleman go through this guilt too! You start telling yourself that other things and other people's feelings / needs are more important than your own, but it's. not. true. I am a wife. I am a daughter. I am a friend. I am an author. I am my own person, living my own life to its fullest. Take a second and make a list of your own. These are all important aspects of who you are, but none of them are less important than others. My advice for this is to write down this list every morning along with your goals for yourself as a person. Who is it that you want to be?
Tip #6 - Don't Let Discouragement Bring You Down
So you hit snooze on your alarm clock and now you've missed your morning writing session... it's okay! Maybe your body needed the sleep. Maybe you just wanted extra cuddle time with your partner. Whatever the case, don't beat yourself up. Try to find another time in the day when you can write, or pick up your schedule the next day. If you spend time beating yourself up, you'll just make yourself feel bad and that's not what any of us want! Nor is it the formula for good writing. Hang in there, because getting the hang of writing on a schedule during any time of the year is hard.
Tip #7 - Prioritize Self-Care
I know, I know. You've heard this speech before about mental health and taking care of yourself. I'm going to say it again, though. You need to take care of yourself. Try to get 6-8 hours of sleep at night. Schedule a weekly date night with your partner or best friend. Stay Hydrated! These are all things we need to do on a regular basis, but especially during the holidays when life can be extra stressful. Keep a log of all the things you do to prioritize your self-care. If you're anything like me, you'll be surprised at how much you need to improve. But you can improve. And I promise you improving your self-care routine will make you a better and happier writer.
Tip #8 - Have Fun
The holidays may be stressful, but they are also fun! Enjoy the extra time with your family. Share your book with them! Get them on your team so that they can cheer you on. And most importantly, remember why you started writing because that is going to get you through the most difficult moments of the process.
How do you find time to write during the holidays? Share in the comments below!
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