Holiday Hassle or Book-Writing Hustle?

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The choice is yours.

Gift shopping, family drama, and socializing. The holidays are universally stressful for anyone. With all the added tensions and concerns of this year, I think it’s safe to say that the typical holiday stress levels are at an all-time high. So if you’re like me, and you still want to optimize your time and energy to make the most of the dwindling daylight hours, read on. I’m going to outline my personal tips and tricks for getting through the holidays while keeping all your marbles intact. Well, at least most of them, anyway.

1. Optimize Holiday Gift-Giving with a Swap

The number one biggest stressor of the holiday season, in my opinion, is the obligation to buy gifts for everyone you know and love. But you know what? Most people just love opening things, and already have enough collectible cat mugs and basic sweaters. So what I’m saying is, make your one gift do the heavy-lifting and suggest that your holiday party does a random name secret Santa swap, or Yankee-style that sucker. This way you personally only have to show up with one gift, and yet, everyone gets to open something. It’s a lot easier on your wallet too. Bonus points if you suggest everyone only buy from small businesses – that’ll guarantee some beautiful and unique thoughtful gifts while also giving your local communities a leg up. Everyone wins!

2. Amp up Self-Care Habits During the Holiday Season

This one may seem obvious but it’s really important! This season and always, remind yourself that you can’t pour from an empty cup. Even if you’re trying to slay your manuscript and get that word count moving, you need to get plenty of sleep and eat well. Those things alone will make a world of difference. I’ve found I feel a lot happier cutting down on my carb intake. Try it – I promise it can’t hurt!

3. Let Your Writing Speak for You

Maybe this is a good time to stop overanalyzing your every move and just let your writing flow. For more help defining your writer voice, read this article: Chasing the Elusive Writer’s Voice. It’s easy sometimes to get so wrapped-up (pun fully intended) in the marketing side of things. But when that happens, you forget why you’re a writer in the first place. Maybe start by streamlining your approach – decide on two effective holiday marketing tactics, make a to-do list of those things, and then focus the rest of your free time on actually writing your next story. I’m really guilty of this too, but hey – awareness is the first step to improvement!

4. Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin

Holidays are a big emotional stressor too, because you’re suddenly obligated to reconnect with family members. Some you love, and some you probably don’t. But you have to stick to healthy limits. If you’re not feeling up to chatting or going out, stay home and relax. Or better yet, stay home and write. If you have new ideas for your story, see where they’ll take you. Sometimes boredom breeds the best material, and you’ll be doing your mind a favor by not committing to too many things at once.

5. Celebrate Your Wins

About those family members who maybe don’t relate to your writing goals, just love them. Easier said than done, but with all the polarizing differences floating in the air these days, isn’t agreeing on love a safe bet? This can be tough, especially if you’re younger like me and your family corners you at the table or during the zoom chat. Maybe they smile sweetly and say “how is that little writing thing going for ya?” And you feel obligated to nod and smile back even though you’re fuming inside. Take some time this holiday season to celebrate your wins. Sometimes, all it takes is just a bit of calm reflection to remind yourself that you’re a badass storyteller. And then lay out all the awesome things you’re doing.

The holidays don’t have to suck. Things may look a little different this particular year, but it will be over soon. Until then, best wishes for a productive, happy, and safe holiday season!

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