Let’s be honest—you’re not writing during the Christmas season. Neither am I. With all the glitter, the Christmas-sing-alongs, the baking and the general melee of the season, congealing your thoughts into a coherent, let-alone tension-filled scene is like trying to choose just one cookie to choose from the Christmas buffet table.
Give it up.
Instead, how about using the next two weeks to prep for an amazing 2016 writing year?
Here are a few ideas to keep your brain simmering on story while you enjoy that spiced cider.
Give yourself a break! I’m not talking about simplifying (although, that is good—only one kind of cookie on the tray means less agonizing choices!), but rather—actually going to your room, shutting the door and having a moment of quiet. Listen, I know—if you have little children—quiet isn’t easy. I used to require an hour of reading every day during Christmas breaks (and summer, too!). The kids (if they were little) got to choose books from our special “book basket” to read on their bed. Or I might turn on an audio book and give them a few toys to play with. I might even spread out a blanket on the floor (each child gets their own) and declare it “their zone”—to play/read in.
And then go get a book, something lavish that you are reading just for the pure enjoyment of it (I can recommend a few—Rachel Haucks, The Wedding Chapel, Melissa Tagg’s Christmas novella, One Enchanted Christmas, Becky Wade’s Christmas short story, The Proposal) and indulge yourself in a chapter. I read a book for fun nearly every weekend of the year—but I read “biz” books—novels for endorsement, or research, or just to challenge my writing—during the week. But for two weeks during Christmas, I allow myself to indulge in decadent fiction—books I might not normally have time for.
And, in quieting my brain, allowing myself this lavish luxury, inevitably, great ideas for my own writing will surface.
Quiet Time Reading—a little gift you give yourself.
Gather around the fire! Bring back the old “Christmas read-aloud” tradition. In our family, we do a Christmas puzzle every season. Often, we listen to Christmas music. But occasionally, we have a family read aloud—I read, while people puzzle. When the kids were younger, each child got to choose one book, one per night, leading up to Christmas. Reading aloud is like yoga for the writing brain. We hear delightful dialogue, savor story world, and become the characters we’re reading. And, when we enjoy a story together, we are reminded not only what makes a great story . . . but why we write.
Some of our family favorites: David Barry’s The Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog
Back To Christmas, by my author friend Dennis Canfield
(or pick up Evergreen: A Christiansen Christmas story)
Turn OFF and let your brain turn ON. About 6 months ago, I decided to go device-free on the weekends. Yes, I post our Saturday football game crew on Facebook, but then I turn my social media off until Monday. I find it de-clutters my brain and allows me to just enjoy my people, the game, and the space of life. One of my favorite things to do is take a walk on a Sunday afternoon, let my thoughts air out and get some perspective.
When I do this, I find room for other thoughts—deeper ones that can influence the themes of my stories, the depth of my writing.
So . . . let’s get crazy this weekend and walk away from social media from the 24th through the 28th. Really. And then, maybe get outside, take a walk. Give your brain a rest. It’ll come back online, restored and ready to go after the holidays.
I’ll miss you, but I’ll see you then.
Have a great Christmas holiday!