I’m so excited to introduce this month’s guest for A Writer’s Life! I’ve known Jaime Jo Wright since she was an aspiring author, so it’s been thrilling to see her meteoric rise over the last few years. At least that’s what I call it when an author bursts onto the scene, hits the CBA bestseller list, and wins the Carol, Christy, and Daphne du Maurier awards in the same year! She’s here today to share her secrets for writing through the holidays with both sanity and deadlines intact.
Don’t forget to read all the way to the bottom for a chance to win a copy of her new book, Echoes Among the Stones.
Writing Over the Holidays by Jaime Jo Wright
Writing over the holidays can sometimes be akin to trying to sleep during a Metallica concert. Virtually impossible. Yet, those of us with deadlines, whether publisher or self-imposed, know we can’t just throw in the Christmas glitter and call it quits for the season. Here’s a few tips I use (and am using!) during the holiday season to keep my writing mojo from going “oh-no”!
Don’t forget your first love.
We started writing because we loved it. Plain and simple. Sometimes the pressures of deadlines like to strip away that romantic attachment we had to our previous “hobby” now turned “something-serious”. But in the end, when the tree is stripped of tinsel and ornaments, it’s still that piney-green, scented wonder that remains. The bareness of our first love. Words. Story. Don’t forget that with all the coverings of the writing world that make it more chaotic that it sometimes needs to be.
We also like to sprint to the finish. The philosophy is get it done—get it done fast—so we can check it off our task list. But sometimes, a writing sprint loses sight of the heart of the story in exchange for mathematical word count. And let’s face it, not a lot of writers have a love-relationship with numbers. So, avoid the sprints, commit to the marathon, and don’t look at the writing during the holidays as a pressure-cooker ready to explode. Consider it more like brewing a warmly scented cinnamon-orange cider on the stove.
Cut something else out.
We can cheapen our writing by over-committing elsewhere. But who said writing and stories need to take a back seat during the holidays? Do you still love stories? Do you still love to write (see my first point above)? So, don’t forget that. Cut out some other unnecessary commitment. Maybe not your child’s Christmas program. But you don’t necessarily need to send out bulk, handwritten Christmas cards. I’m skipping that this year because of a deadline and because, well, most of my closest friends and relatives I’ll be in touch with anyway.
Rudolph will still be here next year.
Holiday movies never really go away. They’re sort of like tinsel. They stick. Everywhere. I even see them in July of all places. So a good thing to determine is to limit your television viewing time. Sure, sure, we all love the nostalgia of a good Christmas movie, so I’m not saying sacrifice it all for your deadlines. But, let’s be reasonable. A writing marathon is one thing. A Hallmark channel marathon is an entirely different thing. So if you’re going to spend hours flying solo in your own little world of entertainment, limit it so you can apply many of those moments to your words.
In the end, the holidays will come. You’ll survive. The gifts will get wrapped (or thrown in gift bags if you’re like me), and . . . well, your story will evolve. Avoid the mad dash of the holidays and the mass panic that ensues. Sit back. Plan ahead. Prioritize. Be realistic with your time. And enjoy that cup of hot cocoa and those fuzzy socks while you write. This may just be your best writing month ever!
Jaime Jo Wright is winner of the Christy, Carol, Daphne du Maurier, and INSPY Awards. She’s also the Publishers Weekly and ECPA bestselling author of three novellas. Jaime works as a human resources director in Wisconsin, where she lives with her husband and two children.