Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Writing Through the Holidays

My most recent posts here at Novel Spaces have highlighted my first ever participation in National Novel Writing Month. On November 1st, I blogged about my excitement over writing a 50,000 word novel in one month’s time. Back on the 17th, at just about the halfway point, I was well on my way to reaching my goal.

Little did I know my NaNoWriMo writing journey would hit a huge snag that segues quite nicely into the topic of today’s post. Instead of celebrating the near-completion of my month-long writing project and enjoying a nice turkey meal at the dinner table, I spent my Thanksgiving sitting on the sofa cradling my laptop (I paused for the Saints/Cowboys game, of course). A killer deadline popped up out of nowhere (umm…not really nowhere I just happened to get a few dates confused), and I was forced to spend my holiday writing. Unfortunately, that NaNoWriMo book still sits at 44,700 words.

Writers, especially those under deadlines, don’t always have the luxury of taking the holidays off. For those who find themselves having to write during the holidays, here are a few tips:

1. Think about giving yourself some time off. Writing through the holidays is not easy. If you can afford to give yourself a break, this is the perfect time to do it.

2. Write during non-traditional times. If you're used to writing from 9pm - 11pm every night, you may have to consider changing things up. If your family is going caroling or there's a swinging holiday party going on, you may have to sacrifice watching the 7pm showing of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer in order to get your pages in.

3. Practice writing sprints. I know of a few writers who do all of their writing in short sprints, but for those who don’t, give it a try. Carve out two to three 15-minute chunks of time throughout the day and write as much as you can. At the end of each sprint, leave a hint of what the next scene will be about so you can quickly refresh your memory when you start the next sprint. You’ll be amazed at how much you can get done in such little time.

4. Take a lesson from Scrouge. It may be considered rude or not in the spirit to turn down invitations to holiday parties, but if you cannot afford the time away from your writing you need to learn to say no. Bah humbug!

I’d love for the writers out there to share some of their tips for writing through the holidays.


Jewel Amethyst said...

15 Minute sprints; I like that idea, however the amount of writing I can do in 15 minutes would probably top out at two or three sentences. I can't kick the habit of editing while I write.

I wish I could add more tips, but I'm a relative slow writer. I find, though, when I hash out the scene in my mind first it takes less time getting started at the computer than when I go in cold.

Farrah Rochon said...

Jewel, I can't kick the editing while writing thing, either. I tried with NaNo but still found myself going back and tweaking sentences. The best tip is problem to be flexible.

Liane Spicer said...

Well, they already call me Scrooge so they shouldn't be surprised by anything I do during the hols - like holing up in my room during the festivities. I haven't had a deadline clash with holidays to date, though.

Don't know if this will work, but since you're supposed to take a break from staring at the screen every half hour or so, you can use these breaks to mingle a bit then steal away again and put in another half hour. I can just hear my niece pounding on the door and shouting: "Auntie! Come on out!" And, I swear, she would keep it up until I appeared. This wouldn't happen if I were a brain surgeon, would it... :-/

Jewel Amethyst said...

Liane, you might be surprised!