Here at Romaniac House, we’re getting seriously bogged down with heaps of sticky tape, rolls of wrapping paper and stacks of melt-in-the-mouth mince pies. Yes – the festive season is bearing down upon us in a big way.
So how can we keep normal life (or what passes for it) ticking over, and still get some writing done, amidst the chaos of shopping, wrapping and sprouts? I went out into the crowded Christmassy streets and asked some real life writers for their tips on coping with Yuletide and still managing to get some work done. Well, actually that’s a big, big lie. I sat in my warm and cosy chair and sent some messages out into the ether. Then I got out my favourite Christmas photos and had a large glass of Baileys. And this is what those kind authors told me:
Talli Roland – I’ve found the best way to work through Christmas comes down to one thing: denial. Forget the mince pies, the carols, the Christmas cards… just put your head down (with perhaps a sip of mulled wine, if you’ve been good) and focus on the manuscript. I like to look at my growing holiday to-do list as a challenge, sometimes leaving it as late as Christmas Eve. It always gets done, and when the big day rolls around, I can finally relax in the smug knowledge my MS is where it should be AND I completed my shopping in one day!
Liz Fielding – My December involves writing at the kitchen table, surrounded by drifts of wrapping paper and my notebook blotted with mincemeat. The only way to get any writing done is to get up at 5 am, lock myself away in my writing room on the top floor and get the pages done before the first “Did you organise…” puts the dh in danger of his life.
Emily Harvale – have an advent calendar pinned to the wall above my desk and I’m only allowed to open each day and have the chocolate inside, when I’ve written at least 500 words.
Debbie Viggiano – I got half way through writing the Christmas cards and then abandoned them to get my writing fix. I have yet to return to the task . They are currently scattered all over the study floor after the new kitten divebombed the previously neat pile. I hope to complete the task before next Christmas!
Fenella Milller – I do everything on line, so that cuts down on time – have wrapped presents and written cards in the middle of the night when up watching the cricket. Then I have all day to write.
Sue Moorcroft – Christmas? It’s no bother. I just get worse and worse tempered until people leave me alone, I suppose! Then I give in and have a week off.
Lucy Felthouse – Hehe, that one’s easy. I just look at the deadlines I have – and think of the money I need to earn to pay for the presents! That makes me write faster.
Phillipa Ashley – I’ve had a very busy and at times very stressful year, and have achieved some writing goals – now I need to space to think about what to write next and mull over new ideas. I really think my motto is Give Yourself the Christmas Gift of Stopping Writing if you need to.
Rose McClelland – Oh dear! Lol. I am not doing any writing at the moment so I can’t answer that! Not only is Christmas on the go but I’m also moving house! So I’m afraid my writing is on hold!
Sarah Tranter: I’ve been known to take my hearing aids out when I’ve been attempting some sneaky writing. But that isn’t a particularly helpful tip for most – and neither is it particularly effective as it doesn’t stop DSs from spinning me around in my chair and yelling in my face. Therefore, I’m afraid – I’ve no helpful tips. I could do with tips myself!
Nicky Wells – Ruthless time management. I’ve had to scale back how much time I can dedicate to my authorly being during the festive season, what with baking, decorating, shopping and school plays; but when I’ve allocated a morning to writing (or proofing) I stick with it relentlessly. I do a little, as often as possible. Oh and there’s the occasional late-night or very-early-morning shift.
Chris Stovell – I escaped to the depths of the country to get away from the madness of Christmas! Sheep graze in the field behind me and the sea stretches out in front; there isn’t a fairy light in sight, but I can still find excuses not to write! My tip is to try to take a little time for yourself every day in the build up just to stay in touch with your writing, then, when Christmas comes and you’ve got a house full, like me, you can celebrate with a clear conscience and several glasses of fizz! It’s only once a year – thank goodness. Cheers, and here’s wishing you a very merry Christmas and a writerly New Year!
Mandy Baggot – Christmas? What? Is something going on? Do I have to lift my butt off the typing chair and shop for gifts? What’s that you say? I’m hosting Christmas dinner this year? HELL! My tip for carrying on writing as Christmas looms is to carry on writing and ignore the frenzy! I have a new wintry novel coming out on 13th December and I have concentrated my efforts on that rather than hanging garlands and wrapping gifts. So my ultimate tip is INTERNET SHOPPING! I know lots of you love the hubbub of looking for gifts when it’s cold and icy, you can smell the German sausage and mulled wine and hear the school choirs sing, however I get terribly frustrated with people who have no clue what they want to buy and browse…very slowly…painfully slowly! So Lady B’s tip is to go a little Scrooge and shop from home. You’ll write more and you won’t stamp on anyone’s toes! Or push them into the tinsel display.
Christine Courtenay – I try to organise myself and I make endless lists – who to send Christmas cards to, what presents I’ve bought and still need to buy, what food I need to buy/make and so on. Then I try to write in between actually doing the stuff on my lists – well, you have to sit down sometime! And as long as I’ve ticked something off each day, I feel I’ve earned some writing time.
Cara Cooper – I can give you one which a journalist friend told me she did. When it all got too much and she was under a deadline, she would take her baby out of the playpen and sit in it herself with her laptop so she could finish the story in peace!
So, there we have it – a small sample of sanity in the madness of Christmas. Thanks to all these helpful writerly people. I’m getting a great overview of all of us slowly giving up the battle and just letting Christmas happen! What do you think? Any more tips? I’m off to do my Christmas dance now. It was inspired by a pair of new and very festive slippers. We all have our own ways of getting ready…on the other hand I might just go and sit in my playpen.