Ah, the holidays. A time of gluttony and sloth and drunken vindictiveness. Take a deep breath, my friend, taste that rarefied air. It is truly the most wonderful time of the year. A time when family gathers around your edges like slavering wolves lurking just beyond the firelight. A time of crowds, seething and surging, a greasy tide of humanity smashing through the poorly maintained levees of good manners, drowning decent behavior, and swamping class and taste with a stagnant backwash of sweaty desperation, trapped within the gaudy confines of the Mall, damp and reeking.
I'm just kidding, you're all wonderful, really.
So yeah... Thanksgiving. You know what I love? Cornbread stuffing. That is some good shit right there, my friends. If you haven't had it, I highly recommend rectifying that little error ASAP. There's still time, the groceries stores as of yet, are not completely looted. Just a friendly tip from me to you, amigo.
So... Holidays... Holi-DAZE, amirite? Know what I mean?
No? Well, allow me to explain.
With all the crazed running about of this time of year, with all the panic and petty anger and opportunistic backstabbing and what-not that looms over the next few days as we gather to "celebrate", there's one thing that always, inevitably, ultimately suffers.
What? No. Children? No. What the...?
Your WRITING. The answer is: Your writing.
Your writing always suffers during all the hub-bub and what-cha'doin' of this time of year. It gets lost in the shuffle. One day skipped becomes two, three, a week very easily. The holidays can be momentum killers and as we all know, forward momentum? That's your book right there, my friends. You gotta keep rolling, you gotta push, push, push to the end. Finish. When it comes to your first draft, it is of the utmost importance: Finish the story.
So what do you do?
Good question, Ponder Cat, what do you do? Well, here's 5 suggestions straight from my pie-hole.
1. Make time
Be a little bit selfish. Take some time for yourself Why not? The rest of the free world will be busy setting new records for selfish behavior, so who can judge you for taking an hour or two a day to scribble away in a corner somewhere? Here's a tip for those of you traveling out of town: Get a hotel room. Sure, it costs more than staying for free at a relative's house and sleeping in one of their ridiculously uncomfortable beds... or does it?
2. Adjust your expectations
Okay, your output is going to be lowered. You're probably not going to be able to pull off a 2000 word day for the next week or so. Accept it. It's not a big deal. Maybe you won't get chapters done, so what? Shoot for a few scenes instead. Family visits are nothing but Time Leeches, they will suck up every available moment and employ it towards their own horrible and twisted agenda, it's not the end of the world. Remember, my friends: Thanksgiving isn't forever, we'll make it.
3. Be prepared
Have your note book and pen ready. Have your tablet and laptop charged. Keep your Jump drive close. You may have to snatch moments where you can, so don't waste them hunting around for your stuff. Keep it with you.
If you're one of those people who needs a perfectly balanced environment with the right chair and the right desk set up at exactly the right angle of slanting sunlight, with only one specific recording of a certain band with the volume just so and the perfect vase of very specific flowers perfectly arranged before you can actually set pen to paper and begin writing... then you're screwed. I can't help you. Get lost. And honestly, I question whether or not you really want to write and whether or not those conditions you set are actually roadblocks set up to act as excuses as to why you never seem to get anything written, except those first 25 pages you keep re-editing and re-editing...
But I digress--
Anyway, be ready to write not just when you can, but where you can. Is everyone watching football, snoring and farting away on the couch, and is that really the only place to sit? Then sit down. Write there. Tune the noise and distraction out. If you want to do it, if you want to write, here's your chance. Get some work done. Hey, at least they're all too busy to bother you, right?
5. Alternate progress
Ok, fine, maybe you can't settle in and relax enough for the ol' Imagination to properly kick in. Don't worry about it. No problem, it happens. But what about your plotting? How about some notes? Even just sitting there and thinking about stuff is something, right? (Although, I suggest you write your thoughts down, memory is not as reliable later as we believe it to be in the moment.) Snatches of dialogue, character bits, it's all important. This is what that little notebook you carry around with you everywhere is for.
Put it to use. Get to work.
And there you go...
Jon (and the rest of the Scribblerati, I assume.)