When the Holidays Cut Into Writing Time

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by Anne Mateer

The holiday season is upon us. For some writers, the interrupted normalcy means more writing time. But I suspect the opposite is the case for many of us: the holidays mean less time to write. Perhaps your children have vacation from school and require more supervision. Or they’re home from college (like mine will be) and you don’t want to miss a minute of the short time they are with you again. Maybe you’re visiting family-or hosting a houseful of holiday guests. So how can we set aside some of our actual BIC, words-on-the-page writing time without feeling like we’ve abandoned our work altogether? Here are a few suggestions that have carried me through past holiday seasons:

Watch holiday movies (classic films or even the Hallmark channel ones!) with an eye toward plot and character. While you enjoy those holiday movies (or books or plays) with your family, watch with an intentional thought to story structure and character development. You’ll be surprised at the things you can learn! Notice how the story progresses. What makes the plot work? What are the turning points? Which characters grab you? Which ones get on your nerves and why?

Listen to conversations around you at family gathering or parties. Of course don’t do so at the expense of conversing with others, but usually in all our social gatherings we find some lulls in which we are only required to listen. What do people talk about? Are their subtexts to their conversations? Is a person’s body language in opposition to their words? What would a character in your WIP do or say if caught in such a conversation?

Contemplate the spiritual truths implicit in each holiday season. Thanksgiving, Advent, Christmas, even New Year’s Day carry us through a season fraught with spiritual focus. God always has new insight for us if we pay attention. When you stop and more deeply consider the things of the Lord, you are changed-and those changes can infect your writing. Those changes can infuse themselves into your characters’ spiritual journeys. The holidays provide ample time for nurturing our relationship with the Lord, out of which our writing flows.

Jot a few notes each day of the things you’ve seen or heard or thought about. Not only will you come out of the holiday season with fresh ideas for when your more scheduled (or unscheduled!) life begins again, but you will also find yourself enjoying the time spent with family and friends instead of resenting the intrusion on your writing time.

Anne MateerAnne Mateer is an avid reader and history buff. She is the author of three historical novels with Bethany House, a three time Genesis contest finalist and in 2013, a Carol Award finalist for At Every Turn. Anne and her husband, Jeff, are happy empty nesters who are looking forward to welcoming their three children back home for the holidays. Anne blogs regularly at www.annemater.com.

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