For Writers: How To Survive A Holiday

There comes a time, especially during a holiday, when the writer in me wonders, “When is it over?” and “When can I”–erm, dare I say this out loud? Yes? Okay!– “When can I avoid all people, hide in my room, cuddle with my blanket, and continue my writing and reading?”

These questions don’t plague my mind because I don’t like people, or because I have an issue with holidays. My favorite days are simply what others would call “boring”–when I can put my shoulder to the wheel and work away on my projects. It’s why I’ve always loved Mondays.

I’m not alone. I expect many writers can identify with that vicious cycle of “I love you, [friend/relation] but do we have to be together all day?” Many of us love the quiet, seclusion, and peace. So how do we deal with wanting “alone time” to write or read a great book when we’re supposed to be “partying?”

1. Set time and space boundaries. Dad and the kids know that “quiet time” (usually a couple of hours in the afternoon) means Mom gets to go in her room and not interact with the cats, the front door, the phone, anybody. I put my feet up on the ottoman, throw a blanket on my lap, and sit in my soft, leather chair to write or read. The trees blow in the wind outside my window, while I conquer the world and recharge my battery.

2. Be willing to compromise. I’m part of a family (most of us are part of a network of friends or family) who likes to spend time together. This is normal. And the logical part of me knows this is healthy. But it isn’t always easy for me to sit down and play that board game, or sit and listen to my kids talk about their latest invention, experiment, or art project, or participate in said project. But this family, my family is the only family I will have. I love them. They are a part of me. While I may have been cursed blessed to be an introvert, there’s a reason why I’m not the only woman on the planet. Interactions give me purpose and teach me how to love. I wouldn’t want to write if I didn’t have anyone who wanted to read my books, and I wouldn’t be able to read if there weren’t other writers. Doing other activities I’m not all that thrilled about, though sometimes painful, can provide learning opportunities that can inform my writing. My husband loves to play Assassin’s Creed, and I never would have been able to write my current book on submission if I hadn’t watched him play. Even the days I get to write and read as much as I want can be full of frustration about my progress in writing. Looking outside myself by loving and serving others recharges me enough to return to that chair with a real, substantial sense of peace.

3. Share your expertise. This, too, can be hard. We just had friends over and my good friend asked about how I was spending my day while my youngest just started kindergarten. I told her briefly of my writing projects, and while she wasn’t all that interested, I wasn’t all that interested in her craft projects either. We’re friends anyway. I can spread my interests with my children, and now they’re all great readers. My husband bought a board game called Bring Your Own Book just to please me, and playing that game was a great bonding experience. That’s the point of community. Learning from each other and having the courage to share the tidbits we learn whether the listener is interested or not. I’ve talked about the seven-hundred-page biography I’m currently reading, or my unnatural fascination with the guillotine, and quite often find someone who thinks there’s something wrong with me. But to be fair, I’m not all that interested in being a veterinarian, and the minute you say “football,” my eyes roll to the back of my head. But that’s life. We find common or uncommon interests, and share anyway. Because there will be a time when I need to know something about football, or how to give my cat a shot. If I’ve mingled a little, I’ll know who to consult. The internet can only help so much, truthfully.

So next time, dear writers, when you’re bracing yourself for that chaos-filled “fun” holiday, know you’re not the only one one. Just establish a few hard-and-fast rules to get you through–until Monday.