How writers can deal with Christmas

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Are you ready for Christmas? Here are some suggestions for how to make Christmas a happier holiday for writers….

As wonderful as Christmas is, it’s a celebration that often creates stress for writers, freelancers and companies.

Here is some advice on how to manage the biggest holiday of the year.

1-Understand that many offices more or less “shut down” after Dec. 15. This means that if you have big writing projects — especially ones requiring interviews — you better get them booked before the end of this week. The flip side of this equation is that you’ll likely have more quiet time for writing and planning between now and Christmas. So, if you’re still working, take advantage of the reduction in phone calls and emails to accomplish some deep work.

2-Determine when you’re going to take your own break. Don’t be the type of writer who’s working Christmas Eve to meet a big deadline. You deserve time off, too. But to get it, you’re going to have to wrap up your current projects. Make a detailed plan for how to do that. And, based on your current writing habits, budget an extra 25 to 50 per cent of “cushion” time to allow for unexpected delays. This need for extra time is not your incompetence. It’s a result of the human condition known as the planning fallacy. Prepare for it and deal with it.

3-Enjoy your time off. After two and a half years of Covid, I’ve noticed that people are expected to work from home a whole lot more often. And this sometimes translates into working all the time. While there is great convenience in using your home as an office, don’t let the new philosophy turn you into a digital slave who does nothing but work. Make sure you take some real time off and don’t check email on those days.

4-Know your clients before you send any cards. Jews certainly don’t want Christmas cards. (And, by the way, Hanukkah is not the equivalent of Christmas in any way, even though it involves giving presents.) Nor do Muslims. Agnostics might prefer a “year end” card to any sort of season’s greetings. The people who appreciate recognition of capital-C Christmas — and they really appreciate it — are church-going Christians. And don’t call it the “holiday season” for them. They’re not interested in cards with Santa Claus and candy canes; it’s a religious holiday. The bottom line: you’ll show your care and concern if you give your clients a card that’s appropriate for them.

5- Gifts usually aren’t necessary for clients. Instead, many smart companies give a lump sum to a charitable endeavour, reflecting their values or a cause they believe in, and then tell the clients about it in a card. When I saw some of my own suppliers doing this, I began making an annual donation to a homeless shelter on behalf of my clients.

6-Who needs another party? Always feel free to decline parties. Most people — especially parents — are busy and stressed at Christmas with school pageants and music recitals. The client party can be an unwelcome obligation for both the host and the client. Don’t go. Or if you’re required to attend, make a short appearance and then go back home and enjoy a quiet glass of eggnog and a good book (if you’re like me). 

7-Get ready for your return to work in 2023. When you return to work on about January 2, 2023, you want to hit the ground running. I always take half a day in December to make my business and writing plans for the next year, and I suggest you do the same. I have an annual plan, a monthly one, a weekly one and a daily one. But the annual plan drives them all.

Oh, and when you’re back at your desk in the new year, being sure to allow yourself at least half a day for:

  • checking email
  • processing any snail mail
  • reconnecting with your friends and colleagues

Also remember that it can be challenging to return to writing after any sort of break, whether planned or not. Next week I’ll be running a post about how to deal with that challenge.

And have a happy holiday!

How do you deal with writing combined with Christmas holidays?  We can all learn from each other so, please, share your thoughts with my readers and me in the “comments” section below.  Anyone who comments on today’s post (or any others) by Dec. 31/22 will be put in a draw for a digital copy of my first book, 8 1/2 Steps to Writing Faster, Better.  To enter, please scroll down to the comments, directly underneath the “related posts” links, below. Note that you don’t have to join Disqus to post. See here to learn how to post as a guest. It’s easy!

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