Whether you are spending the holidays curled up with a good book or deciding what book to buy for loved ones or friends’ one thing’s for certain: there is little time left for writing amidst the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Here are 5 ways to fit in writing between singing Jingle Bells and reading latest releases like Wenjack by Joseph Boyden.
- Keep a notebook handy, wherever you may be.
I don’t know how many times I’ve been riding public transit and been inspired to develop a character based on some of the people that I have sat beside or overheard talking. Some of the most profound conversations take place in some of the most public of spaces. No notebook? Chances are if you have a cell phone it has a section for memos, an invaluable feature to writers everywhere who just need to write down that key word or phrase.
2.Finally done work for the day? Put off putting the laundry in the washer for ten minutes to do this first:
Go through the family photo albums or the photos on your cell phone. I suggest that (for some people at this time of year: use your discretion of course) this is as good a time as any to fit in reminiscing over photos of holidays past; the house chores can wait a few minutes more. Pick your favorite ten or fifteen photos and set them aside. And yes, I’ve got plans for those pics. If picking up photos seems too painful a task for this time of year then maybe take the time to read a book you’ve been looking forward to but on one condition: set a quota for how many words you have to write before you can start the book. (The reward system hasn’t always been good to me but I’ve known writers’ it has worked for.
3.Whether you sit down with your beverage, snack of choice or nothing at all, so long as you are sitting down: I like coffee with my writing personally, write down what these photos bring to mind and how they make you feel or stories they make you recall. If you chose to start reading a book, write a mini review about how far you’ve read so far: what you liked, what you didn’t and why. I suggest using a diary to keep track of this exercise as you may find yourself journaling in turn, which encourages freewriting for some writers, which leads to buried plot lines unfolding and from there the possibilities are almost endless. (I’ve heard CBC’s non-fiction writing contest is coming up soon. Maybe time to draw up a rough draft?) I’ll get into writing competitions another time
4.This time of year is filled with people and their families, whether they are humans or fur pets spending cold nights huddled indoors looking for ways to spend their time. For people who are spending their holidays to themselves I suggest taking photos you already have of your favorite things for this project. Turn on the holiday tunes and print your top ten photos. While the dishes air dry (rinsing them under the sink after washing counts this time of year) use the time you would have taken to dry the utensils, sweep the floor, wash the table and pick –up after the kids, roommates, better-half or simply watching television on your own to write a vivid description of what is happening in each photo or what it makes you recall, how it makes you feel, any smells you recall, or anything your other senses may have kicked in. Do the journaling and captioning with a hard copy if you can because transferring between hard copies and digital copies can become a headache. Then, bring the finished product to a local print shop get your handwritten picture book copied and bound for members of your family or friends or simply keep it for yourself as a keepsake of time well invested, in yourself.
5.Put away the computer. (Writing that was painful.) Yes, if in fact you find you cannot write because you are too busy keeping up with the social statuses of the world this time of year, go back to the old fashioned paper and pen method of writing and freewrite. You can always catch up with friends and family IRL (in real life, if you’re new to the scene). After all, you have to come out of your writer’s den sometime. For now this is what it’s about: making the time to write. Just try not to procrastinate and if you have to, write about trying not to procrastinate while you’re procrastinating about trying not to procrastinate, and voila, you’re writing.