holidays, time management, ideas, creative writing, novel

Write Your Novel and Enjoy the Holidays Too!

By Julie Tyler

If you’re planning to write during the holidays like I am, I wish you with best of luck.

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 that’s no reason to let our novels disintegrate into thin, pumpkin spice-scented, air.

To keep our projects moving without sacrificing meaningful holiday experiences, we writers need to:

Set specific goals and plan ahead

Easier said than done, of course. But these tips will keep us writing through a variety of holiday scenarios, all the way to 2018!

#1 – Squeeze writing into tiny slivers of time

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. Stay abreast of the itinerary of activities so that you can plan your writing sessions around them.

#2 – 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!

#3 – Pack light 

Prepare for the probability that you won’t have much space to set up your writer stuff once you arrive at your destination, much less when you’re actually en route.

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.

#4 – Record your flashes of inspiration 

Let’s say you’re out with your family at the holiday all-you-can-eat buffet and the sight of thirty-nine pumpkin pies gives you an idea for a story. While dinner is probably not the best time to scribble in your notebook. Instead, 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.

#5 – Use holiday moments themselves as potential fodder for your novel

Once you get the hang of tips #1 through #4, start paying attention to all the activity around you. You just might see what you need for that scene you’ve been struggling to write.

For example, did you find yourself clamoring over the supermarket’s last frozen turkey? Scurrying around a busy airport or bus station? Moments like those are chock full of tension and conflict.

Instead of getting stressed out yourself, use the moment to your advantage, creatively speaking.  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.

#6 – Become the designated storyteller

Volunteer to read all the kids a fun book and take the opportunity to hone your skills as a storyteller. Start by selecting a few books with compelling characters, lively language, and sweeping narratives. Before you gather the kids 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

Holidays must always come to an end, but 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.

Stay tuned for Part II for more ways to keep writing during the holidays, and comment below with tips of your own!

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