Zoey the Cute Dachshund wears an “Ugly T-shirt” during the holidays, though she’d prefer to not wear silly human clothes.
By SHelley Widhalm
The holiday calendar can fill up fast with fancy parties, family get-togethers and ugly sweater contests, leaving little room for keeping up the writing routine.
For me, skipping a whole month is too much of a break, so even a couple of sessions in December keeps the focus on my main goal. If I stray away from writing for too long, I get a little anxious and then find it hard to return to my old habit.
To keep writing on my holiday to-do list and busy calendar, I have to have a plan, be disciplined and set a routine.
Here are a few ways I’ve learned to be disciplined in writing no matter the time of year:
- Buy a planner or use a phone app for 2022 and schedule specific writing days.
- Write daily, or at least a couple of times a week, selecting a specific time or place to write, e.g. keep writing office hours.
- Clock in the hours you write, both for accountability and to acknowledge what you have accomplished, and add up the hours every week or month and compare them over time.
- Write for five or 10 minutes in between other activities, using a notebook that you always have with you. Those minutes will add up over time, as do the pages.
- Write a writing action plan with goals for the year and check in every few weeks to mark your progress.
- Take a writer’s retreat, even if it’s in your hometown, setting aside a couple of days to focus on writing (maybe as a reward for surviving the holidays or just before everything gets busy).
Once writing is routine and you mark your progress toward your goals, you can see success, while also being able to engage in the fun of the holidays.
For my routine, I like to calculate how many hours I spent on writing novels and short stories, writing poetry and revising my work, along with the time I dedicated to writing each month. I can tell when I’ve gotten distracted and for how long, not putting in those important hours and minutes that can add up to a significant amount, especially in a year’s time.
This holiday, I plan to stay on track and keep to my original goal of writing at least three times a week, writing a poem a day for my daily poem challenge, and fitting in writing whenever I can. That way I can get in more writing for my year-end tally! This year, it looks like I’ll have put in close to 400 hours, or about 10 40-hour workweeks.