Tips to Keep Writing Over the Holidays

The holidays are upon us, and whether we’re traveling to see family or enjoying some nice time at home, the upcoming weeks are an excellent time to write. For many of us, we have off from our day jobs during part of this time and that means more time for writing, and more time for distractions.

Here are some tips to make sure you still find time to write even when you’re swamped with family visits and the holidays.

  1. Feeling stuck when you finally get a moment to come to the page? Take a reading break!

If you’re not reading, you’re not writing. Reading to generate ideas is not stealing, and it’s not a waste of time. Though it can feel like we’re trained in school to read only when we’re told and not for fun, this is your time! You’re on vacation after all! Read what you want. Read what you think will inspire you the most. And keep a pen handy. Now that I’m no longer required to annotate for class, annotating has become my most precious tool for deconstructing a story’s form and underlining incredible lines I never want to forget. So take pen in hand and be an active reader to be an active writer.

  1. Write a poem a day.

After going to a Joyce Carol Oates reading at the Poetry Foundation in Chicago, I met a writer who wrote a poem a day for a few consecutive years! (You can find her poetry set to videos at the youtube channel Lens & Ink). She inspired me to try my hand at a poem a day. I’ve never considered myself a poet, but there’s been something so freeing in writing a short piece each day that I may never come back to. I don’t feel pressured to get it perfect the first time. A poem a day is a great way to generate new content and let your mind run. I’ve definitely come up with characters and story ideas for fiction from poems I’ve written these past few months.

  1. Write 300 words a day.

Similar to the poem-a-day prompt, writing in short amounts each day places writing on your priority list while recognizing that we have families and obligations. But a quick free writing exercise keeps your mind engaged daily. This is especially helpful if you’re working on a longer piece. 300 words can be supplemental material which helps flesh out characters, setting or plot. Maybe it never makes it into your manuscript. But maybe it does.

If we have the time to write and the motivation to write, then we can write. We can be with our families, ring in the New Year, and celebrate our strong writing habits to round out 2015 and beyond.