Though I love the holiday season, there is no denying that it is one of the busiest times of the year. Between presents, cards, cooking, and decorating, there is so much to do. When I am busy, it is far too easy to let my writing slip. Priorities that once seemed clear begin to melt away, as quickly as the days of the month. Is it only me who finds that December flies by much too quickly?
I am working on several writing projects right now and I knew before this holiday season approached that I did not want to fall into the old habit of letting my writing output fall by the wayside over the holidays. I considered strategies I could use to keep writing, even amidst the bustle of these few months.
These are some of the strategies I’ve employed:
Catching inspiration on the go: I have an hour long commute in the mornings and evenings and often come up with ideas for scenes, dialogues or even new stories while my brain is auto-piloting the tasks of highway driving. Writing is not practical when two hands should be on the wheel, so I was thrilled to discover the voice recorder feature on my cell phone. Even a few words can capture an idea which will trigger me to further writing when I finally get my fingers back on a keyboard.
Online writing files: I love USB flash drives and often rely on them to carry my writing files from one computer to another. However, in moments when I’m busy or have ten other things on my mind, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked away from a computer and left my USB flash drive in the USB port on the computer. Online storage sites like Dropbox have been a lifesaver. With a free account, I can save writing files to my online account and access them from any computer that has an internet connection. More useful, however, has been the ability to access files via Google Docs, which is right there when I’m checking and answering emails in Gmail. During my lunch break at work, I login to Gmail, check my emails, and then work on one of my current projects saved in my Google Docs.
|Christmas cards are calling...|
Paper and pen: When I was a teenager, I wrote all of my stories out by hand in spiral notebooks or elaborately decorated journals. I still enjoy working on plotting or jotting down story ideas with paper and a good pen. In the past, I’d grab whatever slip of paper I could find in my purse when an idea hit, but those slips were hard to keep track of and might just as easily be thrown out. Now I keep a pretty little purse-sized journal with me at all times and jot down plot points, flashes of dialogue, and new story ideas as they strike. I don’t use my little notebook for anything but writing and it’s become a sort of Pavlovian response, as every time I see it in my purse, ideas come.
I must confess that I’m still working on Christmas cards, still have presents to buy and feel certain I’ll be late on delivering a card, a gift, perhaps both. I can’t spend as much time writing as I would prefer. However, I have used these few strategies to keep me focused on my writing, stoking the flames of inspiration and production whenever I can, even during this wonderful but busy time of year.
How do you keep your writing on track when you’re extremely busy? What strategies work for you?