How to Survive the Holidays When You're a Writer

Sunday, December 04, 2016
Getting to this point each year . . . the struggle is real. 

I’m going to throw this out there and hope that some of you relate. The holidays are always a tough time of year for me. Most of my family lives halfway across the country and I’m the product of a broken home and an only child, so the get-togethers often revolve around my husband his extended family. I’m pretty sure I have Seasonal Affective Disorder and suffer during the colder months when there’s not enough sunlight to go around. I tend to want to hibernate like a bear in the winter and it can take a lot for me to come out of my cave. Throw all the holiday parties, gifts, and other obligations to try and keep things festive and it can get downright stressful, especially if you’re a writer or editor and your income stream depends on you not sinking into a funk! (Don’t get me wrong—I do love the holidays, what I don’t love is all the added pressure from the world to make everything so dang perfect in the process.)

Here are a few ideas for how to survive the holidays when you’re a writer:

1. Be prepared for your normal deadlines to get pushed up. It’s not secret that the publishing world pretty much shuts down between the week of Dec. 20 and the New Year. If you’ve been assigned a story that’s due during the month of December or the beginning of January, plan to interview sources early before they become unavailable. If you have regular deadlines each month, check with your editors and make sure nothing has been moved up. One of my deadlines got moved from the 10th of the month to the 5th, so I’ll be doing a bit of scrambling myself next week.
2. Make a list of gifts you still need to buy and make a strategy for tackling them. For me, we usually like to purchase some gifts and gift cards for our children’s teachers, and the fact that my kids get out of school by the 16th always throws me for a loop. This morning I sat down and mapped out a plan of who was going to get what so I can purchase and deliver the gifts before the winter break.
3. Put all social events on your calendar. Now. I'm really bad about this (are you sensing my lack of organization yet?) and need to do this immediately after completing this blog post. Between choir practice, my daughter’s orchestra practice and concerts, a Cub Scout campout and Christmas party, my husband’s work party, etc., my head is swimming. This will also help you keep track of that shopping list where you may need to purchase a Dirty Santa gift or whip up a dish for a potluck.
4. Pencil a date to meet a friend for coffee or dinner. Yes, we’re all busy. Terribly busy. But the holidays are a tough time for many, and sometimes it’s good to vent over a Peppermint Mocha or join forces and do a little shopping together. You’ll realize everyone is in the same boat and we’re all just trying to survive.
5. Work on a fun project during the break. Once you’re deadlines are met, do something fun for you and work on that short story you’ve been itching to get back to or print out a few pages of your work-in-progress for friends or family members to read. It will be a good way to be productive during some well-deserved time off.

Because, after all, the snail’s pace of January will be here soon enough.

Do you have any tips for surviving the holidays?

Renee Roberson is an award-winning writer and editor whose favorite gift to hand out during the holidays is Cookies in a Jar. 


Margo Dill said...

I think you could do a series on this for several different occupations--maybe make a fortune. LOL Seriously, How to survive the holidays as a teacher. How to survive the holidays as a mom. How to survive the holidays as an editor. . .you see where I am going with this. :)

Sioux Roslawski said...

Drink lots of spiked eggnog? Eat lots of chocolate? Take a nap occasionally?

I really know what I could add to your list of ideas. It's already a crazy season, and I figure it'll get crazier before it's over.

Mary Horner said...

Great advice! It's important to take some time for yourself. A good book and a cup of hot cocoa is one way I like to relax during the holidays.

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

What Mary said! Every now and then, it is okay to stop doing and running and just be. Even if you are surrounded by demanding extroverts. They can chill for a bit.

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