The Writer’s Nightmare Before Christmas

The holidays are coming…can you feel your writing time slipping away?

I love the holidays, the lights, the costumes, the decorations, the family, the baking—presents. The one thing is, those months ALWAYS knock me off my word count track.

Usually this is not a huge problem. I pick back up in January and keep plugging along, but this year’s a bit different. The final book in my Ascendant Trilogy is due out Summer of 2017 and I need to get that manuscript to my editor by March to make that happen. I don’t have time to fall off the yellow bricks and into a Christmas tree.

This year, my holidays need to run different.

I had brunch today with two of the most supportive and encouraging female writers I know. (We’re partial to Linger in Highlands, fantastic food and a great atmosphere. If you haven’t been, we highly recommend!) Among the many writerly conversations we had, we came up with a few ideas to help all three of us enjoy the holidays while still being productive with our individual writing projects. Here they are.

Make writing a priority

Too often it is easy to make writing last on our never ending lists of things. It must be a priority. This often requires nothing more substantial than a shift in our thinking and the actions we are choosing to take during the day. If I think, “I need to get one thousand words written BEFORE I tackle anything else on my list” instead of, “As soon as I accomplish these other twenty things, then I can sit down and write one thousand words” I have completely shifted my priorities for the day.

Make a plan

Everyone feels most creative at different times of the day, but for me, first thing in the morning has ALWAYS worked the best when it’s crunch time. Even though I’m home writing full time now, I can easily fill my entire day with all the other things that need management and attention. Getting up at four in the morning, before my kids are awake and getting ready for school, gives me two magic hours of utter silence in my house. Plus, since I know that time is finite, it keeps me from messing around on the computer reading all your fabulous, but highly distracting, facebook posts. Maybe the evening works better for you, or your lunch break at work, whatever the time of day, set up a reoccurring schedule reminder and stick to it through the holiday months.

Set daily, weekly, and monthly writing goals

Great, writing is a priority, I have a plan to get up early, so what sort of word count promise should I make myself while trying to get ready for:

  • trick-or-treaters
  • traveling to Montana with two kids and two puppies for a week over Thanksgiving
  • getting out those Christmas cards
  • shopping for presents
  • decorating the tree
  • watching A Christmas Story, Elf, and National Lampoons Christmas Vacation

How about I make an easily obtainable one? I usually crack out 1000 words a day while working on a book, but I'm going to cut myself some slack. From the posting date of this blog, there are seventy-five days until New Years Eve. If I were to only write 500 words a day, starting today until New Years Eve, I will have 37,500 words toward my new book completed. That is almost half of the whole book done before the end of 2016! 500 words is roughly 2 pages a day. I can write 500 words a day in my sleep! This blog post is longer than 500 words.

Be honest with yourself

I sometimes use the busyness of my life as an excuse to not write. Yes, there is always a lot to do in my life—but that never changes. I never obtain PERFECT LIST COMPLETION no matter how much I would love to. There is always more. So the next time I forget my priority to write, scrap that plan and hit the snooze, or decide to shrug off that 500 word count goal, I don’t get to hide behind a pile of laundry or sigh about the lines at Target. I made a choice that day, and that choice was not writing. Lying to myself about that only keeps me from getting where I want to go.

Rebecca Taylor on sabtwitterRebecca Taylor on sabfacebook
Rebecca Taylor
Rebecca Taylor is the author of:
ASCENDANT (winner of the 2014 Colorado Book Award)

Her newest title, AFFECTIVE NEEDS, is now available.

She lives in Colorado with her husband and two children. In addition to writing, she works as a faculty mentor at Regis University’s Mile High MFA program.

Learn more about her and her work at

8 thoughts on “The Writer’s Nightmare Before Christmas

  1. Huzzah, Rebecca! I’ve been making my word count, and I see Halloween, a two-week trip to Florida, holiday parties and yep, Christmas cards in my crystal ball, too. The priorities tip resonates for me. Thank you, and Happy Writing/Happy Holidays!

  2. Yes! All of this! Time management has become my downfall. I woke this morning with the goal to plan ahead and get back my missing mojo. I have my 4th quarter calendar before me so I can see all the trips, school breaks, and holidays coming up. Here’s to finishing 2016 with a bang! And word count! Great post, Becky!

    • Thanks Corinne! For me it is a topic that I have to revisit time, and time, and time again. Because so many NEW commitments crop up all the time, sometimes I end up in this hole and have to refocus all those priorities (which, interestingly, never really change at all!) Family, health, writing.

    • I hear you! Every so often I have one of those years where the holidays don’t really feel like a holiday at all!! Generally it’s been when I’ve been stressed to the max and can’t think of the “Time for Giving” as anything more than “Giving Even More of Myself!” Thankfully, I made some HUGE life changes over the last nine months, and continue to tweak and refine how I choose to spend my time–spend my life! The result is ever decreasing stress levels and finding joy in life again. The result this holiday season?? I’m really looking forward to it. But I can totally see how the “opt out” option would be a desirable choice 🙂

  3. I just had company (wonderful company so no complaints there) Saturday through Monday, so I’m reminded just how much time it takes to have a great family gathering. I’m not sure what November and December have in store for visitors, but I see I’d better get organized now so I’m ready with a pocket of time early morning or late evening for writing time. I’m determined to do NaNoWriMo and want the momentum to carry through December, no matter who comes to visit

    • Patricia I usually don’t seem to realize that even minor schedule disruptions can completely swamp and drown out my writing time. I think I have always assumed that I’d simply “carry on” and yet that is never the case. Writing has always been left completely behind while I cook, clean, and shop my way to a happy and comfortable visit for ALL. This year I’m making a plan and things ARE GOING TO BE different! 🙂

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