Shelley Widhalm of Shell’s Ink Services holds up one of her gifts during Christmas 2017, celebrated at a local Starbucks with her family, after spending an hour that morning at another coffee shop doing some writing.
By Shelley Widhalm
The holidays are about fancy parties, good food and fun get-togethers, but they also can be about writing and keeping up that routine.
Each year, I have to make a conscious effort to fit in writing on my holiday to-do list. Beside my usual work and life activities, I need to set aside time for writing my annual Christmas letter and shopping for presents, along with extra holiday socializing. With a busier calendar, I still need to retain focus on my main goal, which is writing. Without that focus, along with some discipline and a plan, the additional activities can become a distraction.
That’s why setting a routine, especially during a busy time of the year, is extra important.
Here are a few ways to be disciplined in writing no matter the time of year:
- Buy a planner or use a phone app for 2019 and schedule specific writing days.
- Write daily, or at least a couple of times a week, selecting a specific time or place to write, i.e. 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.
- 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 weekend 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 how you are reaching those accomplishments, while also being able to engage in holiday fun.
Over the course of a year, I like to calculate how many hours I spent on writing my novels, 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 two times a week and fitting in writing whenever I can. That way I can get in more writing for my year-end tally!