Writing Expectations During the Holidays


Image by John W. Howell

Hi SEers. John here with you again. As you can see by the headline, I want to spend a few minutes with you discussing what we as writers expect of ourselves during the Holidays. Before we get into the discussion, let’s take this little quiz on our holiday writing behavior to ground ourselves on the subject. There is no right or wrong answer, but you should try to be honest with yourself. Okay, to the questions

1 Do you feel you must sneak off to do any writing?

2 Has a family member pointed out to you that it is the holidays?

3 Have you found yourself wishing the holidays were over so you could get back to writing?

4 Has your significant other threatened to take away your computer power cord or has already done it?

5 Do you think about the twelve days of Christmas in terms of word count?

6 Does the song Silent Night make you think of your WIP?

7 Do you hope your excuse of staying up to eat the cookies left for Santa will cover the fact that you can get in another 500 words.

8 Do you offer to go out in a snowstorm to fetch egg nog to use the convenience store hot spot to send some work to your critique group.

9 Does the crinkle of gift wrap remind you of an unfinished plot point in your Antarctic thriller?

10 Does “I just need to finish this paragraph” plea turn into three fast-paced hours of writing?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, it is time to set realistic writing goals for the holidays to maintain your sanity.

So, what should we do when the Holidays and our writing desires seem to conflict? My suggestions are as follows.

  • Permit yourself to be in the moment for the holidays. Sure, there are times to write, and times to celebrate. Keep them both separate. Don’t try to fit one into the other. You will end up cheating yourself in the end.

  •  Do not think a holiday hiatus will become a permanent vacation. We are writers, and that’s what we do. Taking time off to enjoy the family will serve to refresh the brain. Unless you are under a deadline gun that will reap hundreds of thousands of dollars in royalties, time off will work.

  •  Plan to write less than expected. If you plan that eventuality, then when that situation occurs, you won’t be disappointed and then try and take action to make it up.

  •  Tell the family that you are going to pay attention to them and then do it. If you have a plan, you should share it. Once everyone knows what you are doing, you will be surprised how easy it will be to deliver on everyone’s expectations.

  • Pat yourself on the back for being able to control the forces of both writing and holiday conflicts. You’ve earned it.

I hope these tips help, and I want to wish everyone a very Happy Holiday season and prosperous New Year (Oh yeah, come on, New Year )

Do you have any tips for the holidays and writing.?

49 thoughts on “Writing Expectations During the Holidays

  1. If loved ones are taking your power cord away, it’s a loud and clear, neon-blinking, sign that you need to obsess just a tad less for a time!
    Hope your Christmas was as lovely as you are, John!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This year, family is more important than ever, and even though we cannot meet in person, we will make use of other ways to keep in touch.
    I haven’t been able to write much lately anyway…
    A very Happy Christmas to you, your family and all of your followers too, John!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I wrote quite a bit during my first week of leave, but haven’t done any writing this week with all the holiday preparations and family member visits. Saturday, I start my final edit of A Ghost and His Gold, processing my publishers final comments. Then I continue with my two short stories for Dan’s new anthology, my new paranormal romance, The Soldier and the Radium Girl and After the Bombs Fell.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Reblogged this on The Write Stuff and commented:

    I’m a bit behind on sharing this one, but John says my reasons (getting ready for a family Christmas and spending time with my grandkids) is a viable one. He has some good tips on balancing writing with the holidays, and his list of ten questions are wonderful. Do stop by and take a look for yourself. And if you have a moment, pass it along for those writerly friends of yours who might be struggling right now. Thanks, and thanks to John, as well, for a fun way to point out when it’s okay to put something other than word count FIRST. 🙂 Merry Christmas!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Good advice, John. Although after nine months of hunkering down, no one complains when I disappear.

    I hope you and the other folks at SE have a wonderful holiday season. Regardless of the word count, you guys have given us so much this year that I think you’re all firmly on the ‘nice’ list.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. A very timely post with some great advice. I think the “be present in the moment” is the most profound for me. So often I am thinking of a hundred other things and miss out on something really special. So, I am going to make an extra effort to be present in the moment throughout the holiday celebrations! Thank you for sharing, John, and Merry Christmas!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I had a good laugh at your list. I don’t try to write around the holidays, but do keep a notebook and pen by my bed just in case an idea pops up when I’m supposed to be sleeping. I agree we should focus on our loved ones now.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. LOL. Your list of questions kept me chuckling. A fun post! And yes, family comes first, and the holidays are only once a year. They take priority. I’m going to have more writing time than usual, since my kids can’t make it on Christmas, but the weekend after it. Wishing you and yours a wonderful time.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. It’s a balancing act for me. Work has given us two weeks off, but I’m behind and could use the time to catch up. Still, family is important to me, and I’d like to spend this time with them. And I could use the time off to recharge. I probably will work a little, but not like I have been. I know I won’t be online much.

    Great post, John.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I loved your questions, John. Especially the one about the 12 days of Christmas!
    I definitely set writing aside for the holidays. Christmas and New Years only come once a year and, strange as they are going to be this year (because of COVID), I still plan to enjoy them to the fullest. Wishing you and yours a great holiday season–and then back to writing! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Timely and wise, John. It seems a number of writers have decided like you, and now are settling into the holiday spirit and away from their blogs. It’s the perfect time to refocus and celebrate family, life. May you and yours have an especially joyous Christmas. ✨✨✨

    Liked by 2 people

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