The holidays are hectic and busy. They are, by nature, not the best time for writing. But there are still a few things we can do to keep projects progressing.
One point to remember is that all of publishing is dead this month, so don't feel too bad if the best you can do for your writing is take a break. But if you're up for trying some things you can do in between other tasks and amidst the chaos, then go for it. Below are some ideas.
Depending on what step you're in your writing journey, some of these might be less relevant for you. But remember that writers work all the time, by watching, experiencing, and noticing the happenings around us with a critical eye. In a way, we are always writing :-)
5 Actions to advance your writing
when short of time
1. Research Agents
Let's face it: this is neither a glamorous nor a favorite task for most of us. It brings forth the doubts, the hope, and the anxiety. And it is time consuming. Good queries are personalized, so writers must research the agents for fit and gather enough information to know why they're contacting someone in particular and express that in the query. It's a task best done in small doses and therefore perfect for the scraps of time we get around the holidays. Just make sure you keep all your information in a good place and try creating your personalized paragraphs on the spot while everything you learned is still fresh or you will find yourself re-doing your research.
2. Prepare or improve your query or proposal
Talking queries: this is a fabulous task to fit in the cracks. A great query should be polished and enthralling, and that is hard (almost impossible in my opinion) to accomplish in one sitting. Revisiting your query to edit and tweak with periods of distance in between allows for fresh eyes and will result in a much better final product. Remember to test your query with friends, writers or otherwise, to gauge the interest you're eliciting.
By the way, if you're in the submission stage and you have any materials which you're responsible for, then the same goes for you :-)
3. Edit, copyedit, proofread, reread
Writing and editing, copyediting, and even proofreading require different skills and different parts of the brain. The creativity for writing usually needs more energy, concentration and longer periods of at least somewhat uninterrupted time. Of course, in-depth editing and developmental adjustments also fall in that category. But there are other simpler edits, like a polishing pass or even slight adjustments that can be tackled more easily and can be done in short spurts. Copyediting and proofreading are other tasks that suit limited time slots. Just make sure you keep a style sheet so you remain consistent with your use of capitals, names, places, and formats.
4. Improve your platform
Platform takes time and effort and can't be built in a day. From your website to your social media, a long list of tasks await your attention. Pick a few and make a list and handle them when you have a moment here and there. Not only will it be less overwhelming, but it will add up to true progress. Ideas include choosing photos for social media, pinning images in Pinterest, writing an article for your blog or even creating a color scheme. Newsletter ideas, building a folder of images and tips are also possible choices.
Yes, read. Reading is a way of learning and researching. Often I have to stop a novel to jot down something that occurred me to change in a project, even if it seems unrelated and off-genre. Our unconscious is still working on our books, and reading lots helps the feel for a good story become second nature. The intuition of story to sink into our bones and become gut instinct and effortless we need to read. Good, bad, maybe ok. In genre and off-genre. We must read and keep on reading. So go ahead and indulge. No word's wasted.
A SECRET? Sometime having fun works
Creativity needs space, so at times the best we can do is relax
There is a reason writers get ideas in the shower. Sometimes our brains need time to process and breathing room to grow ideas. Creativity needs space, so at times the best we can do is relax, watch a movie, play with our kids, chat with friends... Your brain is storing everything for use later on. Enjoy yourself!
Dare always. Keep writing.