Monday, December 21, 2009

How Do You Write and Still Enjoy the Holidays?

I hate to admit it, but I’m feeling a little Grinch-like this year. Usually, I’m a very Who-minded individual, merrily rolling along, singing holiday tunes, baking cookies and buying presents that I know people will love. One trip to Toys R’ Us and this disgruntled “bah humbug” feeling seeped into my pores. Even Starbucks peppermint hot chocolate can’t chase it away. Children laughing? People passing? Greeting smile after smile? Hardly. Tantrums, fighting over parking spots, and long, long, lines is much more my reality.

When you’re playing Santa to a six year old, it’s hard to feel this way. My daughter still very much believes in the magic of Christmas time. And I know somewhere deep in the recesses of my grown up façade, I do too. There have been moments the malaise has lifted and I got caught up in the season. We’ve had tea with Mrs. Claus. Watched a delightful stage adaptation of “If You Take A Mouse to the Movies.” And filled a shopping bag full of holiday meal groceries for a family less fortunate than our own. In those moments, no matter what the activity, the underlying element was spending time together.

Being cruise director for the holidays can take its toll on even the most robust Christmas spirit. In my spare moments, when I’ve had time to ruminate over why I felt so unsettled one thing kept coming up. And as selfish as it sounds…I haven’t really given myself anything. A break. Time. A moment to feel and appreciate the reason for the season. I’ve been running, running, running and ignoring all the activities that usually keep me on course. And one of those activities is writing!

My writing has been boxed up until after the holidays. Particularly heinous since I caught fire in a new WIP and have editing to do on an almost there manuscript. I’ve had a rather lovely writing year and I’m inspired, but pissed off that I can’t dedicate more time to it at the moment. I have Christmas to enjoy, darn it! I think that, even above the ‘I can’t find a dang, toxic Zhu-Zhu pet under $100.00 anywhere’ craze, is what is making me unbearable to be around this holiday season.

Time management is not my strong point – something to work on, dare I say, maybe a resolution? In the meantime, my big question to all of you prolific, talented and wildly successful writers out there is how do you manage to work through the holiday season?


  1. I have discovered that having a deadline - a concrete deadline, not just a self-imposed deadline, works for me. When I HAD to get 40 pages of creative work done for school, I did it. No problem. Now, I am between semesters, so I have no deadline. In addition, my son is home from school and my husband will be on vacation next week. I can feel the excuses and procrastination crawling into my gut.

    If you find a way to work through the holidays, and distracting life in general, let me know!

  2. Is there anything wrong with a self-declared writing sabbatical? I decided to take one this week and not feel guilty. Easy for me at this point because I'm in between projects anyway.

    But you, Robin, have just finished a high-riding month with lots of excitement and you've probably got revision snippets bubbling around in your holiday brain and no time to write them. Now that's frustrating! Maybe as you race around doing errands you should call home on your cell phone and leave yourself revision messages - hey, whatever relieves writing agita is worth a try?

  3. Hmm, not a bad idea, Gale!

    Deadlines work for me too, Meg!

    Of course when the January doldrums hit, I'll have to remind myself of how much I wanted to write in December, lol.

  4. I haven't written much this month and not at all for the past week or so. And I doubt I will write at all until January. And I don't feel one bit guilty. Actually, I planned for it.

    December is always crazy. Why feel guilty about it? Enjoy it, I say.

  5. I purposely signed up for a conference on 1/17 so that I would have a deadline and be forced to squeeze in some writing time. "But I have to, honey, I have a conference coming up." And speaking of deadlines...back to the holiday cards.

  6. For me, Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) said it best: "I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."

  7. Ha! I'm laughing at J.L.'s quote. I'm lucky this year that I don't have to be a "cruise director for the holidays" (love it) and I have time to write. But there have been years when I haven't and looking back, it's a relatively short period of time and okay that I didn't. The world didn't end or anything. Sheesh, you're busy enough! You will get back to writing when the timing is right.

  8. I know you are all right! Crazy and December are synonymous.

  9. I have a six-year old, too. And when she's not in school, I'm not writing. And I'm in the middle of a dummy I'm really excited about (but trying not to obsess about during the holidays) I'm trying to resign myself to-- this is family time, my story will be there when she's back in school. (but it is a little frustrating!)