14 tips to keep writing through the holidays

14 tips to keep writing through the holidays
It is possible to keep writing through the holidays.

Winter brings with it changes in temperature and daylight. These can definitely have an impact on our mood. There are also many celebrations during the winter months – Halloween, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza etc. These celebrations can be a great way to spend time with friends and family. They can also make it difficult to maintain your writing routine. But I believe it can be done. So, read on for 14 tips to keep writing during the holidays.

4 tips on how to use Hygge to maintain your writing routine during the holidays

  • Have you tried to incorporate Hygge into your writing routine yet? This Danish tradition of cosiness during the winter could help you to keep writing during the holidays. The next two tips of wrapping up warm and drinking hot drinks are an easy way to include Hygge in your writing routine. You could also include candles and decorate your writing space with flowers or branches. Choose the little things that bring you comfort and peace. 
  • I definitely find it hard to write or type with cold fingers. This is a reason why it is physically harder to write during the winter months. I like drinking hot drinks. So, I use this to help warm up my hands. When I sit down at my desk I spend time holding my warm cup to allow the heat to warm up my fingers. This also works really well as a transition activity. The minute or two that I spend holding my cup is when I start to think about the writing I am about to do. When my fingers are warmed up my brain is also ready. The pleasure of sitting down at my desk with a hot cup of tea is another way I maintain my writing productivity during the holidays.
  • Do you know what you need for self care during the winter months? e.g. I write in my fluffy dressing gown more often for heat and comfort. Self care could be keeping an eye on how much sleep you are getting or making more of an effort to eat a balanced diet. Which can be difficult in winter with the amount of chocolate and biscuits that are readily available. When you are struggling then spending time minding yourself could be what you need. For me, writing is part of my self-care and when I am struggling mentally then I allow myself to spend time free writing or journaling during my writing time. When I think of writing as a treat it helps me to stay motivated to write during the winter.
  • A lovely part of Hygge is an open fire and it is definitely the season for sitting beside an open fire. Even if it is not your own one, maybe you have a pub or coffee shop that always has a fire lit. Ireland has a tradition of telling stories beside the fireplace in winter. There is something about an open fire (even if it is an inefficient use of energy) that makes you want to stay longer beside the heat and talk about nearly anything. It is also a great place to read inspirational books. When it is hard to write during the holidays, sometimes a break from your own writing and a reminder of the magic of words can give you a boost.

Feeling alone with your writing struggles can make it hard to keep writing during the holidays

  • One of the reasons that it can be hard to write during the holidays is if you feel like you are the only person trying to get something written. You might not have anybody close to you that is also writing but there are still ways to feel less alone as a writer. I use podcasts to help me. Listening to other people talk about writing, even if it is not about the specific writing problem I am facing, can help. Writing Excuses is great for when you don’t have a lot of time. Each of their episodes is only 15 minutes long. They also have a massive back catalogue so there will be an episode for you. A longer listen is Stephen Pressfield (War of Art) on the What You Will Learn podcast. He talks about his own long struggle with writing. It is a great reminder that the struggle can be part of the process.
  • Does social media help or hinder your writing? If you find you end up scrolling through any of the many social media platforms, you are not alone. Sometimes our brains need that endless scrolling as a break from the rest of our busy lives. But have you ever thought about using social media to help keep writing during the holidays? Start by evaluating the people you are following. How many of them are writers? Or talk about the creative process? Knowing that other people are also trying to write and are also struggling with writing and creating is another way to feel less alone in your own struggle. So, be picky about who you choose to follow. Don’t follow anybody that is going to make you feel inadequate or intimidated. I love when I am on Instagram and I find a post that helps me put down my phone and pick up my pen. Here is the link to my Instagram. I regularly share encouraging posts and other accounts that help to support my writing process.

3 Unexpected ways to increase your writing productivity during the holidays

  • Being in nature is great for creativity. Even if it is just walking down a street that has trees. In winter the exposure to the light, even if it is on the grey and dull side, can help with the production of serotonin which stabilises our moods. Or find an exercise video on youtube or some other form of indoor movement that gets the blood flowing. All types of movement can help to reduce that feeling of stagnation. The stuck in a rut feeling definitely makes it hard to keep writing during the holidays.
  • Do you have any indoor plants around you? Houseplants can help with the quality of indoor air. Particularly when it is cold and we are less likely to open windows. Choose a plant that you like to increase the chances of remembering to care for it. I enjoy gardening but I still managed to kill air plants. Twice! But my orchids and pitcher plant are going strong.
  • The most unexpected way to increase your writing productivity during the holidays is to take a break. I wrote more about how taking a rest can benefit your writing here. When we get caught up in the stress of meeting word counts and finishing chapters we compromise on our creativity. You can use writing adjacent activities to fill up your creative well and recharge your batteries. All of which can help towards high-quality writing sessions.

3 changes to your writing process that can help maintain your writing routine during the holidays

  • Do you find yourself avoiding your writing space? A change to your writing space could help you to be more motivated to write during winter. It could be a very subtle change such as a new poster or novelty lighting. Now is definitely the best time to buy decorative lights. See if any of the variations of fairy lights catch your eye. If you enjoy horror then look for the Halloween themed fairy lights. It is your writing space so you get to decide what will help you most. How close are you to a window or any other source of natural light? Consider temporarily moving your writing space beside a window to see if it boosts your writing productivity.
  • Use your struggle and frustration as fuel for your writing. Lean into the feeling and explore it from a character’s point of view. Create a resource of winter writing that would make any of the Russian masters proud.
  • Planning ahead is always a way to maintain your writing routine during the holidays. Focus on how you can allow for current seasonal pressures and work around them. Don’t get bogged down with what is not happening. You want to allow for time to buy presents, recover from parties, to prioritise walking outside when the weather allows for it and fit in your writing as well. People either find planning easy or difficult. But, either way focus on what your end goal of having time to write. That is your reward for planning ahead.

4 mindset tips to stay motivated to write during the winter

  • Koselig is the Norwegian winter mindset. There is a little bit of overlap with Hygge, from Denmark. But the part I like is that it is about making the best of your situation. If you are finding it hard to write during the holidays you can use koselig to help reframe your thinking. Start by accepting that it is difficult and then doing what you can. When we try to force ourselves to work the same as another writer or creative that loves winter, we set ourselves up for disappointment. 
  • Remember that everything counts. That word, sentence or paragraph is better than no writing at all. I always frame it in terms of what would my future self appreciate. Next week would I prefer to have a totally blank page or a page of half-written sentences that I can shape and continue with.
  • Resist the temptation to start again next year. That thinking leads to regrets and unfulfilled dreams. Do what you can now with how your life is now. This winter might be a struggle but next winter could be easier because of the effort you put into your writing this winter.
  • Focus on your why. Why do you want to write, what do you get out of it? Writing always makes me feel better. Even if I am struggling through the editing process. I light my candles, put on my headphones and go into my writing bubble. And I feel better afterwards. I also focus on just 20 minutes or 50 words. Lower goals that are achievable when there are more external or internal pressures around will get you through when it is hard to write during the holidays.

Action steps to keep writing during the holidays

Pick a tip that resonates with you or that you feel would be easy to apply straight away. 

Try it out and measure your progress. You could choose word count, length of writing session or how you felt as your criteria for success. 

If it works, great! But if it doesn’t, move on to the next tip. If you are not sure if it worked or not, try again at the next writing session. 

More reading on Building a Writing Routine

Maintaining a writing routine during the winter: 3 reasons why it is difficult and 3 solutions

How to use other writer’s routines as inspiration for your own

The comprehensive guide to finding time to write

12 quotes to inspire you to write

Writing during the summer

How to build your writing routine in 5 days

How to find the time to write: 4 steps to help you write more often

Setting up your productive and inspiring writing space