For Writers, The Holiday Season Can Be a Struggle

December 14th, by CherylS

For Writers, The Holiday Season Can Be a Struggle
‘Tis the Season. We can feel it in the air – a growing excitement tinged with panic. Our fellow shoppers, with furrowed brows, are distracted from the outside world as they endeavor to get it all done. In traffic, tempers are shorter. This is a difficult time of year for many. Some are face to face, once again, with recurring family issues as we congregate in celebration. Some mark one more anniversary without loved ones we’ve lost. Some feel very much alone in a sea of holiday joy. Even those who otherwise enjoy the holidays may struggle with a ghost of inadequacy, always wanting to do more, and to do it better. As freelance writers, we are subject to any of these issues, but our biggest challenge may be just finding the time to write.

Like any other artistic or creative person, writers are at our best when immersed in our craft. The reasons we feel pulled to write go far beyond the pride of accomplishment from a job well done. We need to write because of the process, itself. At the writing desk, we’re able to access a part of ourselves that is usually subjugated in the hustle and bustle of our busy daily lives. Writing allows us to think straight. It can be a meditation, of sorts.

Recent educational research shows that students have certain innate learning styles. Some learn visually, some aurally, and some utilize kinetic learning, for example. Writers absorb new information best through reading and writing. The written word is our natural affinity. Using our “learning language”, our thoughts are more easily organized and everything makes sense. Ideas flow easily, and soon we are able to tap into an orderly mindset that serves us going forward, even in unrelated tasks. As writers, we each learn what we need to keep the dream alive. A quiet place, free from interruption, is crucial for most of us. A regular practice is important too. Similar to physical exercise, writing daily keeps our “writing muscles” toned. Even something as simple as keeping a personal journal can help maintain our facility with the writing process. Like with a second language, if you don’t use it, you lose it.

During the holiday season, for most of us, a routine is nothing but a fond memory. The very things that make the holidays magical – the decorations, the cooking, the presents, the cards, the guests, etc., are the things that are monopolizing our time. Time flows differently during the holiday season too. Days fly by in a blur, and before we know it we are out of time. Our expectations for the season are high, and things seldom go exactly as planned, so we are further stressed.

Without our daily writing practice, and amid the scheduling frenzy, we may find ourselves scattered. Our homes are full of people, each with a holiday agenda of their own. Plans change rapidly and schedules shift, making everything take longer. Many tasks may remain unfinished, and the loose ends add to our scattered mindsets. Our days are longer and our sleep suffers, further exacerbating our stress.

When and if we do embrace an opportunity to write, the thread is no longer easy to grasp. Our craft may feel clumsy or out of shape and with holiday stress in the back of our minds, we struggle to focus. In the midst of chaos, writing is not the haven we crave. If we are able to finally connect with our muse and engage in a creative flow, an interruption is sure to occur. Stepping away from our desks, mid-thought, is fragmenting and frustrating. We tend to the crisis at hand, festive or not, with only half a mind, as we’ve left the other half at our desk, deep in rumination.

The deeper part of ourselves that we tap into through writing is only a portion of our persona. We can still function without it, living otherwise rewarding lives, but ultimately we find ourselves going through the motions. Others may not notice the difference, but we aren’t fully ourselves. The holiday season is a time of nostalgia for many of us. We are full of memories from seasons past, and we want to enjoy it all, in the present, whole-heartedly. This is difficult to do if when we’re not feeling like ourselves. We’ll keep doing the best we can to enjoy each moment of this shining season, looking forward to the cold, dark days of winter in the new year, when we can again sit in silence, uninterrupted, at our desks.