Miss Write's Advice: sticking to a writing routine over Christmas
Whatever the writing dilemma, our resident agony aunt is here to help! Miss Write will be here every month with another answer to another problem, so if you have a burning writerly complaint, send it our way.
I find it difficult to stick to a writing routine during the Christmas holidays, there are far too many distractions! Do you have any advice? Julie.
Miss Write's answer
Establishing a routine can be difficult, even when there aren’t pressing issues like turkey sandwiches to be eaten, naff games to be played and garish Christmas jumpers to wear. However, without sticking to a routine, you’ll find it much harder to get back into your writing once the last mince pie has been scoffed.
Here are my top tips for writers surviving the festive period:
Set goals before you start
If you don’t set goals before the madness begins, you’ll never get anything done. So, if your goal is to finish a draft of a novel or story, work out what you’ll realistically be able to manage, whether that takes the form of a word or page count and account for any days when you know writing will be impossible. Also, find out which submission deadlines are coming up and use them to help keep you on track.
Write first thing in the morning
Let’s face it, first thing in the morning will probably be the only time you’ll get some peace and quiet to write. Or if the morning doesn’t work for you, find that little pocket of time which will and be stubborn about keeping it. Even as little as half an hour each day will help you make progress.
Use food as motivation
I’m basically advocating that you resemble a household pet by rewarding yourself with food for good behaviour. However, at Christmas, there’s food EVERYWHERE. Instead of gorging immediately (the default and correct reaction) try moderating this bounty. Decide on your own goals - stop for a turkey sandwich or a handful from the Roses tin once you’ve reached 500, 1,000 or 5,000 words. Your waistline won’t thank you, but your word count will, and you’ll feel smug in all of your (sort of) self-controlled glory.
Take a break!
If all of that food is too much, take a break. Go for a walk and breathe in the crisp fresh air (or grin and bear it under as many layers as possible.) Use this time to think through ideas or simply just be on your own for a while. You’ll feel much more refreshed and ready to get back to writing afterwards.
Listen to the stories around you
You may have heard that bonkers story from your Grandma a million times, but instead of tuning out, tune in. There’s always something to be gained from the stories around you; a new setting, an interesting character or snippet of dialogue. I can’t be held responsible for any family feuds which arise though, so tread (or write) carefully.
Skip the telly
I know it feels like you really, really need to see that festive edition of You’ve Been Framed right this minute, but trust me, you don’t. Instead, use that hour to write a chapter, scribble some notes about a character or read over what you wrote the previous day. But make sure you record a fair amount of Christmas telly trash for when you’re done. I’m not a total Grinch.
Above all, make sure you do take some time to relax, enjoy the festivities and reflect on what you’ve achieved over the past year. You want to keep a routine, but don’t run yourself into the ground or ignore your family entirely. Well now you’ve mentioned that actually…