The holidays are here! Hopefully this means more writing time, but even if it doesn’t, this post is here to help you to make the most of whatever time you have. So grab some wassail and get ready to become wickedly efficient this December. (Seriously though, go grab something warm and cozy to drink while you read this– it’s Christmastime!)
Before we can become better writers, both in craft and practice, we have to know ourselves and most of the time that means experimenting. So that’s what I’m asking you to do this season. Approach writing differently and give yourself the opportunity to discover what your best practices are– please, as a present to me.
And to help you along, I’m going to break down the 5 basic variables surrounding the practice of writing: time, location, environment, input, and duration.
We all have times of the day that creativity flows better for us. However, it doesn’t necessarily follow that the time you’re most awake is when your best creativity comes. I have the habits of an 80 year old woman — tea, knitting, and bedtime included — but I write best at night, in the stolen hours when all reasonable people are asleep.
Here are your options:
- Any Time
There are many kinds locations in which you can write, but I’ve found that it boils down to these two:
- Coffee Shop / Cafe
If you get distracted by people or things that need to get done around the house, you may work better in a neutral location. However, your own home is a great option if you work best in a really comfortable environment. More on environments below…
Although we could go deep down the rabbit hole of lighting and seating and who knows what else, let’s just keep to people right now.
- Around People You Know
- Around Strangers
Try writing in all three of these scenarios and see what works best for you, though I think I can safely say that if you’re a raging extrovert, being around people you know might not be the best option for you.
- White Noise
- The Perfect Playlist
Silence kills me (my husband saw this and immediately started making as many sounds as possible). I have hundreds of songs that I’ve crafted into playlists for specific characters and scenes that make it possible for me to nail the mood, conversation, or action of a scene in a way I never could alone.
For others, specific music is distracting and coffee shops provide the right level of background noise. If you find that you want that kind of white noise within the comfort of your own home, there are coffee shop “playlists” that emulate the same general hubub for hours.
If you find you’re the dead silence type, try out noise-canceling headphones without music. Ahh, socially acceptable earplugs.
It may take a while for you to find your stride. Personally, I can rarely write for more than two hours consecutively. My brain will break and my writing will devolve into lines of qwerty and asdfj. That being said, I discovered that I can write in my two hour chunks a few times a day, as long as I’m giving myself real breaks. Try out these different increments and see what works best for you.
- Spurts (1-2hrs)
- ALL DAY!
You have the tools so now’s the time to play (and get some killer word counts)! Go and find out what practices work best for you– I’m so excited for you all!
And one last note. I care about you all a lot and I want to acknowledge that the holidays can be hard, not just in the writing department. There’s pressure to feel joy, peace, and goodwill toward all, but that doesn’t always bubble up naturally. It’s a time when grief can be thrown into sharp relief and busyness can overwhelm. Know that my heart is with you and your endeavors– creative and otherwise — this season. Write well my friends, but also give yourselves the gift of understanding and forgiveness.
Abigail, in hopes of taking a solid nap, signing off.