Create a Holiday Plan
The holiday season is here! Snow is falling outside my window, I’ve got my desk all decorated with evergreen garland and twinkly lights, and Pandora is playing Christmas music while I work. Gotta admit, I love this time of year. (I don’t wear reindeer-and-holly sweaters or dangly ornament earrings, in case you were wondering. No need to be afraid.)
The hard part is that this time of year can get pretty stressful. And why not? On top of the regular everyday things we need to accomplish, there are all of these extras. (And if you happen to be female, you’ll relate to this far better than many of my esteemed male readers.) During the holidays we suddenly have to find time to:
→ Purchase a Christmas tree or find the one in the basement, then string the lights and decorate it.
→ Decorate the inside of the house.
→ Hang the outdoor lights. (That one’s for you guys.)
→ Write the Christmas letter. (If you’re that type. And I admit, I am.)
→ Choose, buy, address, stamp, seal and mail Christmas cards.
→ Shop for the kids, the spouse, the inlaws, the nieces and nephews, etc.
→ Wrap all those gifts.
→ Don’t forget the kids’ teachers, the hair stylist, the newspaper deliverers, the garbage collectors, and others who deserve our thanks.
→ Put in extra hours down at the shelter or other charity.
→ Attend all those Christmas parties. (Might include shopping for new outfits.)
→ Bake cookies and other treats, if that’s your thing. Decorate sugar cookies and build gingerbread houses with the kids, if you’re that mom.
I could probably think of more, but I’m getting exhausted just typing this. My point is, that’s quite a list. And just where is all that extra time going to come from? It’s gotta come from somewhere, and the sooner we accept this and deal with it head-on, the better we’ll be at coping with the stresses of the season. If you’re a writer with word-count goals, you’re going to want to make sure your goals are realistic. If you’re writing under deadline, it’s even more important to get on top of this.
So I propose that today, or this weekend, we all take a few quiet moments to make a Holiday Plan. Let’s come up with a strategy that will take us through to January 2nd with the least amount of stress possible.
Set reasonable goals for this time period. Is it a word count? Is it simply to have a certain amount of time each week to enjoy writing, without an expectation of results? A good goal for some can be “I will put away my WIP until January 2nd, at which time I will come at it with fresh eyes and a renewed sense of energy.” Set goals that are completely attainable given your life circumstance.
After you’ve set your goals, make a plan of action. Schedule the writing time on your calendar, or put Post-It notes on your bathroom mirror reminding yourself of your writing hiatus.
If you’re contracted for a book or article, you may need to cut back on some activities, or delegate more of your usual holiday tasks—cooking, cleaning, decorating, shopping. Just don’t go into this season assuming that “somehow” you’ll get it all done. Make a plan!
Realistic expectations are probably the best way to beat holiday stress. So let’s create some!
Tell us about your Holiday Plan. How will you handle the balance between your work, your writing and your life? What are your goals? Put your plans in writing and share them here!