The Writers’ Guide to Staying Sane Over Christmas
As the holidays approach and festive madness begins to take over, writers across the country might be seen to twitch gently and hug their notebooks protectively. It’s a time of year when social calendars tend to become more tightly stuffed than a Christmas stocking – tough on livers and even tougher on those who’re already trying to squeeze writing into a busy schedule.
Remain chilled out even when the relatives descend with our writers’ guide to staying sane over Christmas.
Take inspiration where you can find it
In some ways, Christmas doesn’t feel like the most fertile ground when it comes to inspiration. Maybe it’s just because we’re all so used to holiday films, carols and festive stories that we start to think all of the most obvious ideas have been done and done again.
Scribble your observations down on scraps of wrapping paper
That doesn’t mean you can’t put your own spin on the festive period, and when you get a bunch of people together - whether it’s co-workers letting their hair down or friends and family replete with dinner treats - there are tons of quips or moments worth remembering. Whip out a notebook, keep notes on your phone or scribble your observations down on scraps of wrapping paper. You never know what moments might fit into works in progress or new fictions.
Enjoy a brief respite from rejection
If you want to be a writer, you have to get used to rejection. For most working writers, it’s such a natural part of their daily lives that they’ve built up plenty of ways of coping with the unwelcome: ‘no thanks, it’s not for us’.
That’s not to say rejections stop hurting completely, especially when you’re new to the writing game and haven’t had a chance to grow a rhino-thick skin yet. Use the Christmas period as a welcome respite from the real world and luxuriate in the fact that it’s very unlikely that magazine or journal editors will take a break from their Christmas celebrations to send you a rejection email.
Learn how to skilfully change the subject
Nifty sidesteps to employ during Christmas parties
Some writers absolutely love talking about their latest project and will be looking forward to filling everyone in with glee. Others can hardly imagine anything worse. If you’re in the latter camp, be sure to learn a few nifty sidesteps to employ during Christmas parties.
For example, when someone asks how your project is going, reply with something like: ‘Ah, I’m getting on but it’s so difficult to find space for anything at this time of year, isn’t it?’. Or: ‘As soon as my hand has stopped cramping from writing gift labels, I’ll get back on the horse.’ If they don’t accept your graceful sidestep, simply say: ‘great, thanks’ then quiz them about their failed New Year resolutions from last year.
Remember that you’re allowed a holiday
The thing about writing is that, like several other creative pursuits, it’s something that you can technically do anywhere and at any time. That means writers are quite often guilty of beating themselves up basically twenty-four seven.
But you shouldn’t feel guilty for not getting stuck into your latest masterpiece every time you get a few minutes to yourself. Writers are due a holiday just like everyone else. Most importantly, they can really benefit from one.
For more writing advice suitable for any time of year, check out our Five Things series.