The first night of Hanukkah was last night. Happy Hanukkah to everyone celebrating!
And we’re already closing out the second week of Advent. My neighbourhood is filled with special holiday light displays. (Shout out to my neighbour down the lane with the Christmas disco laser light show.)
Because the days are short here — sunrise at 7am, sunset at 4pm! — I am obsessively gathering all the light I can get. I wish you and your loved ones much light and happiness as well.
But as we close in on the holiday season, I want to talk about what it might mean for you and your writing.
As of today, there are 20 days left in 2020. If you’ve been wanting to finish a writing project by the year’s end, you may still be able to do it.
Your December Writing Plans
Here’s what I recommend:
— Take out your calendar. (I’ll wait…)
— Looking at your schedule between now and December 31st, mark off several writing sessions in each week. Look for both Long Time and Short Time sessions.
— Give yourself a checkmark (or special sticker!) for each writing session, and plan a special reward when you complete a certain number of sessions.
— Also, if you are needing some intensive time, book one of the remaining weekends of the year to set yourself up for a DIY Writing Retreat. Intensives like this — where you set aside a few days in a row to make significant progress on your writing — give you a sense of momentum that inspires you to keep going. (If you don’t yet have a copy, download my free PDF guide here to help you organize your own DIY Writing Retreat.)
— On December 31st, celebrate! Celebrate your progress, and celebrate how many new pages you’ve written, but most importantly celebrate that you took back control of your creative life amid the dumpster fire of 2020!
Just doing some quick math, if you can get in 3 sessions a week and one intensive of 1-3 days dedicated to your writing, you could conceivably write a further 45-100 pages (or more!) between now and the year’s end.
Don’t Trade In Your Writing Dreams
I know it’s possible though, that you’ll look at your calendar and think…
“Ooh, it’s so busy! I’ve got to get the presents, put up the tree, make the cookies, send the Christmas cards or New Year’s greetings, fill the stockings and generally spend 3 weeks of my life making the holiday dreams of my loved ones come true.”
Now, please don’t get me wrong: I love the holidays! In another life, I was the woman wearing special Christmas cardigans and matching snowman earrings while Christmas carolling with my church choir.
But I also know how exhausting this season can be. For women especially, I mean.
You may have a partner, and s/he/they may “help out” but often there’s one person in a family who takes on more of the emotional and logistical burden of making the holidays happen.
Is that you, Mrs. Claus?
It was me for a long time. And I still love doing many of the same things now: I’ll definitely be making my mother’s gingerbread cookie recipe and sourcing gifts for the family whose Christmas hamper we are sponsoring this year.
I also know this intense truth for my own life: if I go through December without getting any writing in, then I will slowly but surely become impatient with my family and resent the very things I love about the holidays.
They won’t necessarily even ask me to do that — I will just volunteer to give up my writing time all by myself.
If that happens, I know I will end the year disappointed with myself, which is a recipe for what my teacher Dr. Eric Maisel calls “the Van Gogh blues.”
I’ve had a bad case of these blues before and have no intention of ever going back, so now I am very careful about how I commit to and arrange my creative life.
My invitation to you is that no matter how busy your holiday season looks right now, you think ahead and schedule in some writing sessions so that you can sustain the light of inspiration in your own life.
We tend to think that a week “or so” of not writing isn’t that big of a deal, but in my experience one missed writing session leads to another, and then the weeks pass quickly without any writing at all.
The longer you go not writing, the harder it is to get back into it again. True, yes?
And if that means one less batch of cookies, so be it. Or maybe someone else can take a turn wrapping presents while you hunker down with a cup of hot cocoa at your writing desk for a few nights.
Talk to your loved ones now to ask them for their support to ensure you can ring in the New Year with great pride in yourself for how you’ve committed to your writing dreams, despite everything we’ve had thrown at us in 2020.
Committing to your writing dreams no matter what else is happening is the greatest gift you can give yourself, for this holiday season and beyond.
And it's one you won't have to wrap!