Maybe Taking a Break is a Good Thing?

I’d describe December as big, stressful, social, expensive and slightly intoxicated. Basically, it’s a chilled glass of eggnog served with a splash of mania. For writers, the busyness of the silly season can cause a decrease in creative productivity, or at least complicate it.

Writers seem to respond to the holiday season in one of two ways. Some will snap their laptop shut at the first opportunity and dive head first into a sea of distractions. December is the perfect time to procrastinate. There’s office parties, drinks with friends, presents that need to be bought, cooking and eating and more cooking and more eating and wine… All of which is much more appealing than writing. December offers writers the opportunity to pry themselves from their damp caves, have a shower and socialise, but that can quickly turn into an abandoning of their craft. While you’re out partying it up, the heat that once fuelled your writing project may turn into icy waters.

The second group of writers will simply resent everything and everyone; seeing tasks and invitations as invasive and unwelcomed interruptions. They’d probably give neat one liners like, “I’m not coming to drinks on Friday night, because I really need to finish the edits on chapter nine.” For simplicity, they’ll buy all their family and friends gifts vouchers…for the same store… online… that way they can get all their gift buying done in ten minutes without even leaving their cave or showering! If they accept an invitation, they’ll likely spend the whole night ruminating on all the work they could have gotten done had they stayed at home. While this writer may manage to keep their productivity level high, they’re also setting themselves up for a mid-January burn out.

Obviously, the above two examples are extremes, but if you’re going to fall into one of the two camps…might I recommend the first one? Taking a break from writing, or at least easing up on your ridged routine (a message that feels slightly out of sync even to me) could be a good thing. We all talk about how life is getting busier and December is no exception, but it is a different kind of busy. These four or so weeks are filled with opportunities to spend time with family and friends, watch corny Christmas movies, stay up later and sleep in longer. Your days may be full and exhausting, but hopefully they aren’t filled with the stress of growing your online readership, producing content for guest blog posts or pitching articles to online and print magazines.

The world is getting busier, but industry still has the good sense to slow down during the holiday season; a courtesy that probably won’t last much longer…

If you want to avoid both the stink of writer’s guilt and the pain of re-establishing your old routine, you can maintain a lighter, less precious practice. You can choose to write for one hour a day or a few hours a week. If you tend to write long form fiction, maybe you can switch to flash fiction or non-fiction pieces. Maybe following Natalie Goldberg’s advice and writing just one page a day, about anything, without stopping would be appealing. The point is, you can keep the cogs in your writerly brain turning while easing off the pressure. Consider using December as an opportunity to create without the weight of expectations.

If, however, you are a full-time freelance writer and you have to continue pushing content in order to keep the lights on…then…well…I apologies, because this blog probably isn’t that helpful…So, how about that eggnog, eh?

Image: Myriads by Pekka Nikrus

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