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Tips for the Time-Starved

With the holidays in full swing, I’m finding it hard to calm my mind enough to get some good writing done.  There’s always something nibbling at the fringes now, reminding me I have something to do that I need to get done RIGHT NOW—shop while my kid’s at school, mail a package before the postal deadline, stop by the store for Fritos and dip for the office party.  

My regular writing schedule is shot to hell.  But I’ve still managed to peck out a few pages a day.  Not enough to match the NaNo pace, but enough to make me feel like I’m still hanging in there.  I’d thought I’d share a few of my tips for squeezing out writing time at the holidays.

1.  Mini sessions.  

My writing schedule is shredded by holiday demands.  So when I get 20 minutes to myself, I grab my Alphie or a 5×5 notebook I keep in my purse, and hack out an outline for a scene.  This outline then becomes the basis for a full-blown session when I get the time.  It’s amazing what can come out of outlining.  When my mind’s unquiet, the outline provides the framework, and I’m able to hang enough dialogue and narrative on it to flesh it out and make it something.

2.  Flip habits. 

I write in the morning.  Except during the hectic holidays.  Then I write whenever I get time.  Lunch break, at night when my family is watching Lingo on the Gameshow Channel, and, less frequently, in the morning.  I’m getting up later right at the moment because I’m up later fulfilling obligations of holiday cheer.  But am I going to miss my kid’s holiday concert because of my putative writing schedule?  Not a chance.  Even if my muse has decided she’d be better off eating candy canes than inspiring me, I’m showing up.  Nine times out of ten, she decides to show up too.  Only after hurting me, though.

3.  Put holiday cheer on hold for a day.

It’s not going to kill you to miss the 107th airing of A Charlie Brown’s Christmas so you can get some work done.  Nor will you scar your kid if you pass on being the homeroom party mom.  Use that time to get some writing in.

4.  Stop reading blogs for the time being.

It really killed me to write that, but here at WU, we’re honest brokers in helping the writer achieve their goals.  This only works if the time you used to spend on the blogs goes into your writing.  You’ll do that, won’t you?

The key is to set a match to your expectations and tell yourself that any writing is productive writing.  It can be crappy.  It can be incoherent.  It just has to be something that you’ll be able to edit later.

What do you do to keep your writing edge sharp during the holiday?  I’d love to learn a new trick. 

About Kathleen Bolton [1]

Kathleen Bolton is co-founder of Writer Unboxed. She writes under a variety of pseudonyms, including Ani Bolton [2]. She has written two novels as Cassidy Calloway [3]: Confessions of a First Daughter, and Secrets of a First Daughter--both books in a YA series about the misadventures of the U.S. President's teen-aged daughter, published by HarperCollins, and Tamara Blake, for the novel Slumber [4].