A writer friend just asked me how I was going to stay productive and sane during the holidays. After I finished laughing, I realized it was a good question, and gave it some thought.
As we’re all too aware, normal life doesn’t take a holiday during The Season. There are still meals to be fixed, laundry to be done, and snowdrifts of dust to be blown off the furniture. On top of that, there are (for some) excited children to be distracted, trips to visit family, holiday meals to be prepared, annual letters to be drafted, parties to be given and attended, decorations to festoon, and gifts to be bought and wrapped. For introverts like me, it’s both a wonderful and draining time of year.
So, how to stay sane and productive during all of this?
For me, the sanity and productivity are tied together. Being even a little bit productive with my writing goes a long way toward keeping me sane when a million things are vying for my attention. I have to be focused when I’m writing, and the noisy world falls away for a short time. One way I get the writing done is by keeping my expectations realistic. I’m not going to get twenty pages a week done. There’s too much going on. I’m aiming for one page a day, five days a week. Just one page. I don’t care if it’s crap. Crap can be revised. I just want to write something.
I’ve done this before. Often, I wind up writing more than one page, and that’s nice, but it’s not required and it’s not my goal. It’s easier to sit down for half an hour, knowing that when I get my one page done I’ll have kept my promise to myself, than it is to find two hours at this time of year.
So set a modest goal. One page. A hundred words. Half an hour. Whatever seems doable. Then do it. When the new year rolls around we won’t feel like we’ve lost six weeks of productive time — and we’ll be sane.