Christmas is a season of movement. Leverage that energy to create fuel for your writing
It’s the Christmas season and the craziness has taken over. I love celebrations and the way they separate the year into parts. They give me something to look forward to—and to decorate for.
After Halloween, Christmas is my favorite holiday. But whether you're traveling or having family over, Christmas is stressful. Decorating, buying presents, cooking. The kids are off school. The list grows.
So, here are my best tips on how to work on your writing even during this all-too-messy but happy holiday season.
5 TIPS FOR PRODUCTIVITY DURING THE CHRISTMAS SEASON
1. Tackle writing supportive tasks: Unless you're on a deadline, this is the perfect time of year to slow down. Instead of a word count or a-write-every-day goal, consider reducing your expectations to things you can do while in line while driving, or in the few minutes here and there that you can scrape togther. Examples are working on plot holes, deciding on character traits, choosing names, picking settings and salient descriptors of those, people watching and making notes for idiosyncracies... You get the idea. A lot of activities around writing can be accomplished in a few minutes here and there. Create a list of those and tackle them as time becomes available. And because this is the best season for it, celebrate every accomplishment. You've earned it.
2. Play with your characters: Do you have a character bible? Or did you skimp on your character development? Either way, spending time with the charcters in your WIP will only help you when you have time to sit down to write again. Imagine you sit with them for a chat. What woudl they tell you? Would you be friends with them in real life? What would your family think of them? You can also create a short story about your characters WIP in a Christmas setting or in your living room. Christmas novellas are a "thing" in romance, but there is no reason why you can't play around with the idea for other genres. Taking your characters away from their regular environment helps highlight parts of their character that you might not have noticed. And it is fun!
A lot of activities around writing can be accomplished in a few minutes here and there.
3. Clean up, organize, and research the industry: The publishing industry is notoriously dead this time of year. Because editors and agents are people too :-) this is not the best time for submissions or queries. It is however a perfect month to plan, clean up your submission list, and polish your letters or proposals. If you plan to begin submitting, it's a great chance to research agents and enter your favorites so you're all ready. If you're beginning a new project, outlining and finding comps or mentor texts might be your focus.
4. Promote your work: Published authors, this is your chance to market your book as the perfect Christmas gift. Don’t be shy, either. People are looking for great presents. Publishers might be open to coupons and bundles so check to see if any of those is an option for you. You can leverage social media or a paid ad to market your recent book or your backlist. A new release coming? Plan a giveaway with your new book and throw in some swag to get people excited. Branded freebies are a favorite with book lovers.
5. Work on your brand. We, writers tend to struggle with this. Usually, we aren't marketers at heart and our self-consciousness plays against us. But an online presence is a must in today's publishing world, so it pays to make friends with it. My recommendation is one step at a time--while being kind to yourself. If you already have the basics: website, social accounts, newsletter, then use this time to tweak, adopt one more advanced technique (such as Instagram stories, reels, or polls in twitter) or revamp the look of one account. You could also focus on growth on one channel or open a new one completely such as contacts with bookstores or libraries or a Pinterest or youtube. If you don't yet have the basics, use this end of the year to begin. Choose one thing to tackle, a website or one social media account, and work on it a little every day. You will be amazed at how far you come by the end of the year.
GETTING READY FOR 2020
A while back, a writing mentor recommended creating a writing journal. But that kind of daily writing isn't for me. Instead, during the time devoted to that exercise, I decided to write myself an end-of-year letter. I didn't realize how useful and enlightening it was until I opened my letter a year later. The practice has become an annual ritual and I can't recommend it enough. It's amazing to reflect on your goals for the year, before you knew what the fates would bring, and also to see how far you’ve come. Or what you no longer care about. So I thought I'd share the exercise with you.
THE GHOSTS OF CHRISTMAS LETTER
Choose the prettiest letter paper you have and write a letter in two parts:
Part 1 is to your past self, the you from January 2019. Tell yourself what you wished you'd known then, what you would have done differently and what turned out all right.
Part 2 is to your future self, the you in December 2020. Tell yourself where you hope to be, what things you wish to have accomplished and how you expect to feel.
Now seal the letter. You can use tape or if you are like me, you can pull out your wax seal and stamp it--yes, I'm a romantic.
Store the letter somewhere safe and open it in a year from now, during the 2020 holiday season.
I guarantee you will not regret it.
WHERE YOU NAUGHTY?
December is a great time to fill your book bag. Lots of great sales are available during the holidays. It's a wonderful time to stock up on books you missed during the year and to support author friends. The publishing world releases limited titles, so keep your eye open for specials, bundles and box sets.
The holiday season is high on a emotion. Make sure you capture some of it to further your writing journey.
Dare always. Keep writing. Alicia