I have a small problem, and I’m hoping you’ll have a solution for me.
On January 1st of this year, I made a commitment to write every day, and despite the myriad distractions life has thrown at me, I’ve managed to keep that going all year. In fact, I’ve just surpassed three hundred days of writing!
I’m super proud of that, and I want to keep it going, but the upcoming holidays have me worried. Thanksgiving is an elaborate five-day affair in our family, especially after not being able to share it with extended family last year. With Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s all approaching like a runaway train, I’m worried my writing will be left at the station.
What can I do to make my writing a priority and to help my family understand its importance?
Thanks for all the great advice,
Hectic in Harrisburg.
Well done you!
I am seriously impressed. Three hundred days without a break is a phenomenal achievement. You deserve a vacation. You know, time off with family and friends to relax and recharge. The holidays are a perfect excuse to let your hair down a little. However, I understand your concern.
Building that writing habit took a lot of dedication. I am sure there were days when the last thing you wanted to do on this gorgeous planet of ours was to sit at your desk and work. We all have those days, and you have shown fortitude in pushing through them to maintain your unbroken streak.
Make a plan
You don’t say how many hours you write for each day, or how many beautiful words you crack out in one sitting. That would be useful to understand. As would knowing what time of day you write best. But I am sure these are things you know very well. So, I ask you to take some time to analyse that data and then use that information to plan your strategy for the holiday season.
There are several things to unpack here: a) how many hours do you need per day to maintain your writing habit? b) what writing deadlines do you have to meet between now and the end of the year? i.e. what are your red-letter days and how many words do you need to achieve to meet those goals? c) what is your average hourly writing speed? d) how many full and half days are you going to lose because of the holiday season? e) will you be able to sneak any time to write over the holiday period?
When I say sneak, maybe you will need to get up a few hours earlier than usual, or stay up an hour past bedtime to catch some time to write when no one else is around. We tend to think of the holiday period as a series of duties and traditions that absorb all our time, but in reality they are also opportunities for people to enjoy some quality downtime. Ask yourself, which is most beneficial for you, that Boxing Day lie in or to get a couple of hours of writing under your belt before everyone rises?
It’s not my place to tell you what your priorities should be. What I will say is that this writing gig is important, but so is your family, arguably more so. You may think that they won’t understand. That they will start pressuring you into activities that force you to forego your special time. That they won’t understand how important this is for you and how hard you have worked to build up this habit. And I don’t blame them.
No one would expect a plumber to keep plumbing whilst on holiday, and we have all watched those crime shows where the weary wife gives an ultimatum to the dedicated cop to be home for dinner, but he gets so embroiled in the case that he’s late.
Doing the right thing at the right time brings harmony and reduces stress.
You don’t say if writing is your full-time occupation or a delicious side hustle, but either way, it’s important to have balance in all things.
Personally, on busy family days, I get up early and write like a demon. This I do with a mug of Death Wish coffee (other mind-blowing brands are available) and an almond croissant for fuel. I know my target word count, and I power through. If I need more words for the day, I gracefully retire before anyone else and wrap up the word count before I go to bed.
You might find that something else works for you. The message I hope you are taking from my quite stellar advice, if I say so myself, is to find balance. Do the math. What do you need to do, and what opportunities do you have to do it?
I know writers who use packages like Google Docs, so that they can sync their phone to their account, and they write whilst waiting in line at the grocers or even whilst on the toilet!
So, if the thought of not writing is too much stress for you, then limit yourself to fifteen minutes, or a hundred words. The key is to make it work for you and then switch off and enjoy time with the people you love.