Write Your Novel and Enjoy the Holidays Too!

By Julie Tyler

Hoping to write during the holidays? Yeah, me too. Good luck to us all.

With all the holiday office parties, family get-togethers, events at various places of worship, volunteering, feasting, gift-giving, parade-watching, movie-marathoning, and—be honest—napping, we’re booked solid.

But we don’t have to let our novels disintegrate into thin, pumpkin spice-scented, air.

To hold our projects together without sacrificing meaningful holiday experiences, we writers need to:

#1 Set specific goals. How ’bout finishing an important chapter by New Year’s Eve?

#2 Plan ahead. Can you print drafts of the sections you need to proofread and stick ’em in your travel bag?

#3 Squeeze productivity into tiny slivers of time. Try to stay abreast of the family’s itinerary and schedule a few writing sessions around it.

Following these guidelines is easier said than done, of course. So, I offer six specific tips on the eve of Thanksgiving 2016 that will keep us writing through a variety of holiday scenarios all the way to 2017!

Will you be surrounded by loved ones?

Don’t spend your entire holiday staring at a screen; it’ll be difficult to concentrate knowing that you’re missing out on all the family fun. Instead, wait until everyone goes to sleep or wake up before everyone else to crank out your pages, even you get only thirty minutes to yourself.

Need to get out of the house?

Visit a nearby coffee shop where you can get a solid, uninterrupted hour of work done. Just make sure you return with piles of scones and gallons of coffee for your family!

No room at gramma’s house to set up a work space?

Pack only the most compact and portable materials you can use to write. For example, leave your laptop at home and download the Google Docs app to your tablet or mobile phone. Also, slide a little notebook into your coat pocket, purse, or carry-on luggage so that you can brainstorm while cramped in the back of Cousin Jeffrey’s mini-coupe.

Get a flash of inspiration during a family outing?

Use your phone to text your idea to yourself and type it up later. Or better yet, share it with a family member who would enjoy discussing your project. That way you’ll get some valuable feedback and remember your ideas later.


Once you get the hang of scenarios like these, the next challenge is to think of holiday moments themselves as potential fodder for your novel.

Clamoring over the supermarket’s last frozen turkey? Scurrying around a busy airport or bus station?

Instead of getting stressed out yourself, take a close look at the tension and conflict around you. Note the details of encounters that you could base your characters’ dialogue on. Remember the demeanor and mannerisms of strangers and use them to add dimension to your protagonist, villain, or minor character.

Entrusted with reading your nieces and nephews a bedtime story?5933406133_21ab733f1e

Take the opportunity to hone your read-aloud skills. Start by selecting a few books that follow the experiences of compelling characters and that contain lively language and sweeping narratives. Before you call your nieces and nephews in for the read-aloud, practice using different voices for different characters. This exercise will entertain young readers and help you develop unique voices in your own novel, whether you write for a child audience or for your own peers.

Back to the grind

Following these tips can help you even after the holidays when full-time professional duties kick back in. Use ingenuity to secure your early morning, evening, and weekend writing time and always look for opportunities in your daily experiences to develop new scenes and characters for your novel.


How do you make time during holiday festivities to write? Share your experiences in the comments below!

See Part II of this post for more ways to keep writing during the holidays!


Photo credits:

Homini:) <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/38434991@N08/16165897938″>1970’s Christmas</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

Mennonite Church USA Archives <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/52529054@N06/5933406133″>Children’s Home In Nampa Idaho</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/commons/usage/”>(license)</a&gt;


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