Writing through the holiday season

If someone were to ask me, in the months of November and December, which writing gift I would most value, I'd say, hands down, what I most need is focus. It's a distracting time of year, with guilt-inducing "should-be-doings" staring me in the face wherever I look.

Working around the holidays requires careful time management, goal-setting, and most of all, realistic expectations. Figure out which holiday routines truly make you and your loved ones happy. Allot these "deal-breakers" a finite amount of time on specific, determined days. If there are traditions that no one cares that much about (or that you're doing 100% of the work for), try setting them aside for one year to find out if they're missed. Then, you and your family can reset your priorities for next year.

A few years back, I was down to the wire on a December deadline, had a book coming out (with the requisite speaking/signing activities scheduled), and had galleys (page proofs) show up as well. That year, I ordered nearly all gifts online (delivered directly to out of town recipients), didn't get out Christmas cards, and (insert loud gasps) never got to the inside decorations, including the tree. And we went out for dinner, too.

The moral of the story is that the world did not come to an end. But in the years since, we figured out which things mattered to us as a family and which no one was willing to pitch in to lend a hand with. And I've learned to put aside the pressure to be the next Martha Stewart and keep myself sane by keeping the writing fires burning to a realistic degree.

So how much writing are you able to accomplish during November and December? How do you balance work and family?


bnickerson said…
When I saw your post, I was like she's talking to me. This is the first year I am seriously trying to finish a writing project and here comes the holidays :)

I think I lucked out; Christmas gifts are bought, decorations goes to the kids and my husband, so I really don't have any excuse :)

Happy Holidays!!!
Thanks so much and best of luck to you with your project!
Teri Thackston said…
It seems that my writing deadlines and Christmas always seem to coincide, so I've really pared down projects on both sides in recent years. Fewer decorations (I used to go overboard) and fewer hard and fast deadlines have made the holiday more pleasant for all of us.

Thanks, Colleen!
Christie Craig said…
You're right Colleen, it can be hard to focus this time of year. I just keep telling myself that engineers, and plumbers still have to work and so do I.

I do try to remember that family is really the most important thing and balance is needed.

Happy Holidays.
Tambra said…
Hi Colleen,
What a great blog post. Everything is like you said: balance.

To keep myself sane, I had to learn to say no and choose what was really important and what I could live with.

Thanks for sharing what worked for you.


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