Five Ways to Stay Focused on Your Writing over the Holidays

Christmas decorations
Category: Writing

There are certain times of year when getting yourself into the writing frame of mind is harder than others. The festive period is definitely one them. There’s a good chance you’ll be struggling to make time to stay on top of your writing projects during the holidays, but we’ve got a few tips for helping you maximise the time you do have.

Flex your flash fiction muscles

If you’ve only got a small amount of time but you know you want to stay creative over the holidays, set yourself a few flash fiction challenges. Flash is slightly hard to define – there’s a lot of debate over extract lengths! – but the general idea is to write a very short story that can be read over the course of a brief sitting.

Some writers try and think up nifty, condensed plots, others concentrate more on evoking a particular emotion or feeling. Experiment to find out which style suits you best and see if you can write a story in a sentence, enter our monthly 50 Word Fiction competition or set yourself a 500-word limit and dive in.

Create resources for your project

Use what time you do have to lay some ground work

Setting aside time to really get your teeth into your big, on-going project is likely to be problematic over the holidays. Instead of worrying about the fact you might not be in the right headspace to push forward, use what time you do have to lay some ground work.

You could create character sheets for all of your main protagonists. Add in all of the basic information you might find yourself needing in the course of writing: age, hair colour, opinion on bookmarks vs. folded corners and so on. Or you could have a go at fitting your plot into a story map (here’s a nice guide to the road map style on diyMFA). Your preparations are sure to come in handy later down the line.

Give yourself speed targets

Looking at your calendar for the next few weeks might leave you feeling completely convinced you have no time at all to do any writing, but there’s sure to be a spare few minutes lurking around here and there.

Promise yourself that you’ll write for at least 10 minutes a day over the break and don’t be tempted to go over your allotted time. You may be surprised to find out just how much you can get done when you’ve got a hard deadline in front of you…

Get critical (in a good way)

Pick up tips that will help you tell your own stories

When you just can’t quite manage to get your own words flowing, try taking a step back and having a look at the creative work around you. Pretend you’re a critic who’s been asked to give a short review of absolutely everything. That means making a few notes on every book, story or poem you read over the holidays, every Christmas special you watch, every gallery show you peruse.  

Write up your reviews so you can share them with your friends, or keep them to yourself; the important thing is to keep the critical part of your brain engaged and to pick up tips that will help you tell your own stories.

Practice your elevator pitch

Whatever your writing project, you’re sure to find that being able to sum it up into a pithy, elevator pitch is an invaluable skill. The idea is to look at your work and image how you’d sell it to your dream editor/producer/director if you only had the time it takes from the ground floor to the penthouse. This is no mean feat, but thinking about ways to convert your sprawling story into a line or two is the perfect conundrum to keep your brain occupied as you peel sprouts or score chestnuts for the oven.

Also, as a bonus, if you manage to get your pitch up to scratch, you’ll have it ready to go when all of those distant relatives and work friends ask what you’re working on at the moment!

Need a few more tips for making it through the break? Have a look at our writers' guide to staying sane over Christmas.

Image credit, TechLine on Pixabay.