10 Tips to Help You Keep Writing Through the Holidays

It’s a busy time. There’s a lot going on and a lot expected of us with the next round of holidays looming on the horizon.

It’s also a time when we start looking ahead to the new year. Maybe more in the backs of our brains where we don’t have to pay too much attention to it, but most of us are starting to think ahead to our writing in the new year and what we want to accomplish.

Some of us are even putting off writing until the new year, thinking we don’t have enough time to do it now, with all the busyness.

Don’t fall for the big blocks of writing time myth

The truth is, though, that most of us are putting it off because we think we need a lot of time to write. That it isn’t worth writing unless we have a big block of time to write, where we can really dig in. And it’s true, those long blocks of time to write can be lovely (when they don’t scare the bejesus out of us and cause us to procrastinate even more!).

But we don’t really need big blocks of time to keep our writing in motion.

We just have to do some writing.

10 Tips to Keep You Writing Through the Holidays

Here’s what I suggest to my Called to Write members to keep writing through the holidays:

  1. Write small. Even if you’re accustomed to longer stretches of writing time, it’s okay to scale it back to a more manageable amount while you’re balancing the busyness of the holidays too. Even just 15 minutes of writing a day (or 5!) is worth doing and will keep you connected to your project.
  2. Write first. Writing first in the day–even if you have to get up early–will help you bypass most of the challenges the holidays bring. This is because when you put your writing first, everything else comes afterward and fills in the remaining time. It will reduce your stress levels, you’ll feed your soul, and everything else will still miraculously get done.
  3. Set a rock bottom daily writing goal. If you know what your rock bottom minimum for writing is, it’s easier to know what to do on the really busy days. You might want to aim to write 250 words, or three sentences, or write for 15 minutes as your rock bottom. Then you know what you have to do when you’re in tough. (And it’s okay to set your “write small” amount from tip #1 at your rock bottom minimum!)
  4. Set a holiday season writing goal. Whether you’re targeting completion of a major project or simply determined to keep writing no matter what, knowing what your goal is makes it easier to know if you are on track. This year, for instance, with a young toddler in the house, my goal is super, super simple: just to keep writing. That’s it. For another writer, it might be, to finish the draft of a novel by the end of the year. Once you know your goal, you can reverse engineer what you need to do to accomplish it.
  5. Know what your specific challenges are and how you will address them. For example, my older son will be off school for two weeks, so I’m thinking about what he’s going to be doing when I want to be writing and making plans to write when my husband is home and/or the kids are otherwise occupied. Maybe you’ll be traveling, or having house guests. With some forethought, you can come up with a simple strategy to protect your writing time.
  6. Be clear about what days you are taking off. I know of writers who ONLY take off Christmas Day every year. I know others who write 365 days per year. I also know of successful writers who write only on weekdays and take weekends and holidays off. If you decide to take days off from writing, be clear with yourself about when, where, and how you will start writing again after the day or days off. You have to be ready to combat the inertia of not writing.
  7. Assume you will write. On the days you’ve planned to write, make the assumption that writing is happening, one way or the other. Ideally, you’ll have a plan and a schedule to help you stick to that plan, but if all else fails, just assume it’s a question of WHEN not IF. (Don’t waste your life energy deciding whether or not you’ll be writing. Just decide, and then do it.)
  8. Create support & accountability. Habit trumps inspiration, discipline, and motivation almost any day of the week, but habit can still get disrupted by changes in our routine, like the holidays, travel, vacations, extra social commitments, and just generally having more to do. You can use the power of accountability to help keep your habit in place even when it’s being disrupted by other things. Whether you’re checking in with your writing buddies, participating in a writer’s group like my Called to Write community, or talking to your writing coach, having people around you who believe in the importance of your writing and support you to keep doing it helps you stay strong when you’re around people who don’t get it.
  9. Be creative. When the going gets tough, be creative about how and where you write. For example, you might want to arrive at your appointments early so you can sit in the car and write for a few minutes, write on your phone in bed at night (this is one of my favorite tricks), keep a notebook with you at all times for moments of inspiration, or find other clever ways to keep writing even when life is happening.
  10. Write last. Last but not least, if you can’t write first, write last. Even if you take just a few minutes at the end of every day, write. This is my saving grace these days with a busy life with a little toddler. 

I hope this list of ideas will get you thinking about what you can do to keep writing through the holidays so you can feel great about beginning the new year with a strong start.

Happy writing!

Survey says . . . !

I haven’t really taken a proper day off this Labor Day weekend, though we did get to take the boys swimming up in warm Sacramento on Saturday, which was lovely. I hope you’re having a terrific Labor Day if you’re off work today. 

What’s been preoccupying me lately is been looking over the results of the survey (and packing up books for our winners, so fun!).

It’s been fascinating to see how the answers spread out in response to the question, “Do you struggle with any of the following with your writing?

Here’s a look at all the survey results for this particular question (click the graphic to open it up into a larger window):

Do you struggle with any of the following with your writing?Survey Results


Over 71% answered “procrastination,” which doesn’t surprise me. Interestingly, 71% of you also said you felt called to write “without a doubt”.

Isn’t that an interesting statistical match up?

The statistic that really stands out to me though, is the second one in the list, which comes in at 44% — “Jumping from project to project and never finishing anything“. 

It’s worth talking more about why this happens and what to do about it, but I’ll give you a hint right now about what underlies that “habit”: Perfectionism coupled with self-doubt and normal resistance (but perfectionism takes the lead).

And of course “Wishing you had more time” comes in close behind it at 38%.

The next batch of highest ranked challenges makes an interesting collection too:

  • Thinking you aren’t creative enough or don’t have good enough ideas, 35%
  • Not feeling like a “real” writer, 35% 
  • Being too busy with work, 34% 

Followed closely by:

  • Struggling to find big blocks of time to write, 31%
  • Feeling that you need more training, 29%

Can you relate to any of these?

Some of these are “trick” questions of course, and I’ll be telling you more about why that is when we talk for the teleclass. (N.B. I’m postponing this class until later in the fall and will keep you posted!)

The answers that were “other” included things like:

  • Insecurity and self-doubt
  • Being afraid to finish because of being unsure what to do next
  • Feeling like no one will want to read what you write
  • Feeling under-skilled and ignorant
  • Failing to set firm boundaries around your writing time
  • Feeling depressed because of other life issues
  • Not getting up early enough or scheduling writing time 
  • Struggling with organizing and editing 
  • Perfectionism
  • Not enough income

And of course I have thoughts and suggestions about how to deal with all of these too, which I’ll aim to discuss in the teleclass.

Thanks to everyone who participated! 


Join the Writer's CircleIn the meantime, if you’re struggling with any of these challenges, my best solution (and/or doing private coaching with me) is my Writer’s Circle group coaching program. The next session starts this coming Monday, September 14th and we’d love to have you join us!