Everyone’s getting into the holiday spirit – except you. You’re just trying to survive, and celebrate, and somehow hit your word count. Is it possible to have it all? Maybe. First, though, you have to take care of yourself. With that in mind, here are four essential self-care tips to help you through December.
Mind Your Health
Fun fact: you can’t write when you’re vomiting. Few have ever desired to try, and as far as I know, none have succeeded. So, don’t. Indigestion distracts from your word flow, too. Headaches, runny noses, and lower tract attack all diminish overall word count.
The moral of the story is very simple: take care of yourself. That means drinking lots of water, especially when you’re eating salty and sugary holiday treats. Get more sleep than you think you need, and eat some vegetables. You’ll feel better. You’ll write better, too.
I’ve mentioned this in other articles, but it’s worth repeating here. Schedules save lives in December. Seriously. I hate them in general, but keeping one over the holidays helps me see when and where I can write when I’m feeling overwhelmed by my to-do list. At the very least, keep a calendar with various holiday tasks and events. Even the biggest monsters are less scary if you see them coming from a ways off.
Take It Easy on Yourself
Sometimes, you will fail to hit your word count. You’ll accept an invitation to a holiday party you know you shouldn’t if you want to make that deadline, and your mom will beg you stay “just one more hour” to enjoy the family get-together. These are fine, and they are normal, and you shouldn’t beat yourself up over taking a little time off.
If you regularly fail to meet your word count goals and miss deadlines, then you have bigger issues than the holidays, and maybe this is the time to take a break and address the roots of your issues. The holidays can be stressful, and the additional stress can complicate road blocks preventing you from being the best writer you can be. Step back and reevaluate. By giving your mind a chance to rest, you may just give it the opportunity it needs to get back on track.
Generally, distractions in your writing zone are bad things. When you’re resisting the call of the holidays, however, bringing a little seasonal cheer into your space might not be so terrible. Instead of splitting your attention between the lovely lights and shiny things outside your sheltered nook and the work you have yet to finish, bring the two together. Put a little Christmas tree on your desk and add an ornament every time you hit a goal in December. Begin your writing time with a treat from an Advent calendar. Keep a fun Menorah in the room, or bring some of your Kwanzaa decorations to brighten up your space.
If you don’t celebrate a particular holiday, but still love the spirit – or you just need an excuse to liven things up – hang some fairy lights around. The change of scenery might be good for your characters as well as your sanity, and you won’t have to feel like you’re giving up the holidays to get things done.
The holidays come but once a year, but keep in mind they do come every year. If you miss the office party, it’s okay. You can go next year. If you fall a little short of your month’s writing goals, that’s okay, too. You can catch up next week or next month. Life is flexible, even during this chaotic season, and the most important thing is that you make it through with your health and sanity intact.