5 Tips for Staying Motivated to Write During the Holidays

Can you smell it in the air? No, it’s not the smell of pine trees and gingerbread. It’s the smell of your regular writing routine wafting out the window and getting buried under ten feet of snow.

The holidays are great fun but they can also be a difficult time for writers. Relatives descend, the house gets more crowded, schedules go out of whack, and it’s easy to watch your writing time get swallowed up by shopping and wrapping and baking and wrangling children hopped up on too much sugar. Who can get motivated to write with all of that going on?

But it’s important to try to protect our passion and carve out some time to do what we love to do most (write!), especially during the holidays. Not only will it keep our writing projects moving steadily onward (so we don’t miss those early 2021 deadlines), but also it will help safeguard our own creative sanity during this chaotic time of year.

Which is why, for this final blog post of 2020 (No! 2020! Don’t go! You’ve been so freakin’ delightful!) I thought I’d share my 5 tips for staying motivated during the holidays. And here they are!

1. Carve out an abbreviated time to write

If you can’t stick to your normal writing schedule, instead of giving up writing all together, try setting aside a shorter span of time when you can write each day (or at least semi-regularly). Maybe it’s an hour before lunch or after everyone else has gone to sleep. Even if you can’t dedicate your normal 2 or 3 or 4 hours, just carving out 1 hour or even 30 minutes will make you feel SO much better than if you’d simply skipped writing all together. You can always go back to your regularly scheduled programming after the holidays are over.

2. Set smaller, achievable goals for yourself

It’s tough to wrap your head around a MASSIVE project deadline when there’s so much else going on around you. And all too often, we just give up completely. So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of finishing an entire book or revising an entire short story in the midst of everything else happening this month, try setting those bigger goals aside for a few weeks and pick out some “mini goals” instead. Like “by December 24, I’m going to write 3 chapters.” Or “I’m going to revise 10 pages.” You’ll still feel a sense of accomplishment when you achieve these things and you’ll be able to skip out on the mega stress of trying to take on too much.

3. Claim your space in the house

Has your regular writing space turned into a guest room? Or a wrapping station? Or a family game table? Or a cookie cutting factory? Instead of putting a hold on your writing all together, either stake your claim on a new writing spot just for the holidays (even if it’s a closet!), or “Reserve” your time in your regular writing space for short intervals. Tell your friends and family (as kindly as possible): “From the hours of 1 and 2 pm each day, I’d be so grateful if you kept this area of the house clear and quiet.”

Setting these kinds of limits and boundaries sets expectations, keeps frustrations from boiling over, and gives you the peace of mind that you’ll have your favorite space available at least for a short period each day. You’ll be surprised how much more writing you’ll get done when you know that you only have an hour to do it. No time for procrastination! The cavalry is going to be stampeding through here in 20 minutes!

Bonus Tip: Ask for a good pair of noise-canceling headphones for your holiday gift (if you don’t already have one!) Then, you can write while the cavalry is stampeding through.

4. Make use of the “Downtime” feature (on iOs) and the “Wind Down” feature (on Android)

Are you getting sucked into dramatic family group messages, Instagram posts of holiday table settings, or Pinterest wrapping ideas? Then it’s time to let your phone work for you, not against you. Phones can be productivity and motivation killers (especially around the holidays.) But both Apple and Google have equipped their devices with features that allow you set quiet hours, turn off notifications, and even block certain apps for certain hours of the day. This is great for when you need to pull yourself out of your internet spiral of doom and get some work done. Check out the Settings on your phone to activate Downtime or Wind Down features.

5. Analyze your favorite holiday movie

Looking to spend some quality time with family and improve your craft at the same time? Press play on your favorite holiday movie and take notes on its plot structure, character development, pacing, stakes, and anything else you might be struggling with in your own writing. You can even craft an entire beat sheet if you’re feeling daring! Or, for an extra challenge, pick a new holiday movie you’ve never seen before. This will keep your head in the writing game, while still allowing you to enjoy your favorite holiday activities.

There you are! My top 5 tips for holding onto your productivity (and sanity) even when it’s threatened to be gobbled up like a batch of frosted snowflake-shaped sugar cookies. I hope this helps!

Happy holiday everyone. I will see you in 2021!

If you’d like a little more advice on staying productive during the holidays or anytime, be sure to check out my Productivity Hacks for Writers course, available in the Writing Mastery Academy.

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