7 Easy Ways to Sneak In Writing Time Over the Holidays (and Why It’s Worth It)

It’s the holiday season, and the crunch is on! We’re busy with everything. Shopping, holiday parties, family gatherings, end of year deadlines, kids off school, and more. That makes it a prime time of year for our writing habits slip by the wayside, but I’m here to help with seven easy ways you can sneak writing in, even in the midst of the chaos.

7 Easy Ways to Sneak In Writing Time Over the Holidays

When you’re looking for easy ways to get more writing in, try these ideas:

  1. Write early. You’ve probably heard me talk about the virtues of early morning writing before. During the holidays, early morning writing will save you. You can write before your kids get up and your spouse leaves for work, even when the kids are off school for Winter Break. You can hide out in the guest bedroom at your aunt’s house and write in bed — no one will even know you are awake! You can write before you tackle other projects or head out shopping. Whatever else you have on your plate for the day, when you write first, your heart and spirit will be lighter, knowing you’ve met your most important commitment to yourself first. 
  2. Set a special holiday daily target. When you’re writing during a busy season like this one, you’ll want to tweak your daily writing goals. Maybe you’re someone who has oodles of time off over the holidays, and you can set higher goals, but if you’re like the rest of us with day jobs and kids and a plethora of social commitments, now’s the time to figure out your daily holiday writing targets. They’re probably lurking somewhere between what I call your “rock bottom minimum” (the absolute minimum amount of writing you want to accomplish on a given day) and your optimal amount of writing during a busy time. Here’s what I mean: Normally I aim to write for about 60 minutes a day, more when I’m stretching for a big goal. My rock bottom minimum is 15 minutes a day. So my holiday target is 30 minutes per day. 
  3. Scan your day for potential pockets of writing time. When you get up in the morning, if you’re not going to write first thing, mentally scan your timetable for the day to see if you can spot little pockets of writing time. Maybe you can go early to that dentist appointment and write in the waiting room. Or write a bit in the car on your mobile device while your spouse is driving to the holiday party. Or take a writing time-out at a café while you’re out shopping for holiday gifts. While I’m not usually one for cramming writing into every available moment of my life, intentionally identifying and using one writing window in a day can be a beautiful way to make space for writing.
  4. Streamline your other activities. My holiday life has gotten so much easier since I do most of my shopping online these days. I shop in batches on Amazon, which saves me an enormous amount of emotional wear and tear and saves my energy for writing. I also carefully balance the number of events we attend over the holidays and try to keep the number manageable (I have a threshold of one social gathering per weekend if I can keep it that way and I make exceptions only with careful forethought). When you purposefully design for sanity, it’s much easier to then make time to write, also.
  5. Write light. There’s a tremendous advantage to writing regularly, which is quite simply that it makes it easier to keep going… and that’s what gets us to the finish line with our books and scripts. But sometimes, keeping your head in a script or novel is just too hard when there’s so much crazy going on. In that case, you may want to try lighter writing — journaling, morning pages, brainstorming, writing outside your project (freewriting within the story but outside the primary document for it). This way, you’re keeping the words flowing onto the page and holding the space you have in your life for writing, but also making it easier on yourself.
  6. Write late. If you aim to write in the morning but don’t, or just don’t want to, considering writing in the evening just before bed. You can even sneak off to bed early when you’re staying with your relatives, or go to that office party early and duck out well before last call to make some time for writing. Think of it as your own secret time, just for you. You feed your soul’s calling when you write, and there couldn’t be a better gift to give yourself for the holidays.
  7. Have fun! The holidays can be delightful, but they can also be quite stressful. Emotions get stirred up; there’s more pressure to perform and feel a certain way, look a certain way, etc. So giving yourself a pet project might just be the ticket for some extra writing inspiration and energy, or bringing the spirit of play to your work can help you make a point to enjoy it. You can even make a game out of creating writing time for yourself. Make it feel like you are getting away with something, and you will be. :)

Here’s Why It’s Worth It To Sneak In the Writing Time Now

When you write now, you’ll position yourself well to take advantage of that big burst of writing energy you’re going to have come January 1st. You know it’s coming, right? Remember, a body in motion has a tendency to stay in motion, so writing now helps you write later. (Whereas not writing now means it’s harder to write later — the body at rest tends to stay at rest… It’s all about inertia, baby!)

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be hard to write even during this busy season. Use these tips to make writing easy through the holidays so you can jump in with both feet when January 1st rolls around. 

Got other holiday writing tips? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!


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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!

Why it’s worth it to keep writing through the holidays

Resistance to writing is rife at this time of year. Perhaps that’s why we’re so well primed to resolve to “do better” when the New Year rolls around.

(Though personally I’m not that big a fan of resolutions, especially since they tend to peter out pretty quickly. I’m much more interested in building lasting change through habit. But more on that at a future time.)

There are so many reasons not to write during the busy holiday season: events, obligations, traditions, expectations, inertia, busyness, shopping, cooking, and even just the desire to celebrate and rest up at the end a long year.

Why it’s better to keep writing than to take time off

But the truth is, it’s far better to keep writing — even if you’re just doing the bare minimum — than it is to stop writing.

Here’s why.

First, it’s much harder to get started writing again once you’ve stopped for more than a day or two (and for some of us even one day is too much!). Inertia and resistance builds up when we stop and it’s terrifically hard to overcome it and get going again. If you’re writing regularly, it’s easier to keep writing. If you’re NOT writing regularly, well, it’s easier to just keep on NOT WRITING.

And then the guilt and anxiety sets in. (This is the second reason. And it ain’t pretty. Who can really enjoy putting your feet up and watching a movie when you’ve got that nagging sick feeling in the pit of your stomach?)

This is because when you know you “should” be writing (and I use the word “should” here to mean that you’ve got a project YOU want to work on but you’re avoiding it), you’ll be experiencing a constant low level state of anxiety and guilt, which can ruin whole days at a time. 

You’re much better off aiming for what I call your “rock bottom daily writing goal“, even if it’s just 15 minutes a day.

Last, it’s much more inspiring to start the new year from a strong place that will only get stronger, rather than feeling like you’re behind and can never catch up.

What are your plans for writing during the holidays?

Let us know in the comments.

Join the Writer's CircleAnd if you want daily accountability and support to keep writing through the holidays, join the Writer’s Circle. Our next session starts soon!