By Megan Burkhart, a professional writing student at Taylor University
The month between Thanksgiving and Christmas is crazy. Between shopping for gifts, finals, work, holiday parties, and family gatherings, it’s a miracle any of us can find time to write.
Even if we do find that rare moment of free time, our brains are so taxed we can hardly get any words to the page. At least, that’s how it’s been for me for the last week. It’s not writer’s block–it’s low fuel. It’s an empty tank, and the car can’t get anywhere without fuel.
So, how do we re-fuel?
Well, the answer may surprise you: don’t write. I know, it sounds like heresy, but hear me out. Most writers are introverts, and the holidays are when we get the least amount of alone time. When we do get our recharge time, we’re often too tired or mentally exhausted to write. And those just finishing Nanowrimo are definitely in need of a writing break. It’s okay to stop for a bit. Writing is hard work.
But never fear, you will not fall into an existential crisis if you take a break from writing. In fact, there are a few ways you can still be productive while you’re on “vacation” from your writing.
Somehow, family members are less offended if they see you quietly reading a book on the couch than if you’re on your computer. Plus, if you’re travelling for the holidays, books are perfect for plane or car rides.
Every writer is a reader, and you may find that reading a good book will help you recharge. You’re still entering into a new world and interacting with characters. Only, you get to participate rather than create. It takes a lot of pressure off of you, and it may loosen up your creative juices and allow you to approach your own story with fresh eyes.
2. Watch Movies or TV
You know you and your family are going to be watching something during the holidays. Be it the Christmas movie you watch every year or a new Netflix binge, you won’t be able to avoid it. Let yourself relax and enjoy it. Movies and TV shows are simply different forms of storytelling, and it might do you some good to file away things you like or give you inspiration for your own works.
Once again, just participate in another writer’s world. We spend so much time being writers that sometimes we forget what it’s like to be the reader or viewer.
3. Be Aware of Your Holiday Experiences
Are you travelling somewhere exciting during the holidays? Does your family have any odd traditions or maybe a unique food that you make? The holidays are the perfect time to gather material for either your story or freelance articles.
If something memorable happens, jot down the experience. Publications are always looking for seasonal holiday material. Or, if you’re travelling locally or abroad, just observe the people and culture. You may meet someone who inspires a new character in your novel, or you may visit a site that fits perfectly into your story world.
When you step out of your writer mindset for a few days or few weeks, you can find a host of new material or inspiration for your story. Despite the busyness of the season, it’s amazing what the power of observation and participation in creative works can do for your low-fuel tank.
Productivity looks different for everyone, but it’s still something that can be accomplished during the crazy holiday season. Rest and recharge. Your writing will thank you on January 1.