What with gift shopping, decorating, cooking, and catching up with family and friends, writing during the holiday season can be a challenge. Instead, here are seven ways to reboot your writing for when you return to the keyboard. Exercising different parts of your brain is not only fun but aids your creativity.
- Try a new craft to decorate your home or to give as special gifts
Giving something you’ve baked, preserved or crafted by hand will be valued far more than store-bought gifts. My friend Ruth, makes gorgeous mini Christmas trees out of recycled magazines. Some are plain, others decorated with tiny lights as shown here. Even her grandchildren have put in their orders.
- Meet new people
Much of life has moved online, limiting the people we meet face to face. Why not widen your social circle by attending a holiday event. Whatever your beliefs there’s bound to be something that suits. Carols by Candlelight can be religious or secular. Go along and sing your heart out. Chat to people around you every chance you get. Even better, volunteer to help at the event.
- Try new foods
Most of us have our holiday favourites, be they mince pies or roast turkey. You can still enjoy them on your festive day but beforehand, why not see how others celebrate? Chances are there’s a multi-cultural group in your community. Check with your council or local paper for what’s on. Take your traditional foods along and be prepared to sample new and interesting dishes from other cultures.
On a cruise of Sydney Harbour with a group of readers from Japan, I found an instant connection via the foods we liked to cook and eat, breaking down language barriers and causing much merriment as we tried to figure out recipes to share.
- Find some littlies
Many people say their best celebrations are in the company of small children. I decided to write books instead of having children, choosing to have rent-a-kids and these days, rent-a-grandkids, instead. This December one of my rent-a-grandkids turns one and I can’t wait to give him his first football, truly, it’s marked “my first football.” He and his mother can play with it together until he’s old enough to run and kick. Then who knows, the World Cup?
- Spend time with animals
Not everyone lives in a place where they can have pets. I travel too much to have my own, so as with children, I have rent-a-pets. Currently my rent-a-dogs include a precious teacup-sized poodle, a sooky English staffy, and a sweet-natured Cavoodle who is also a service dog assisting her owners. As well I have a rent-a-cat called Jessie. When I visit her house she jumps onto the back of an armchair to be within patting distance. Over Christmas I’m spending time with the staffy and her owner, and already have my furry friend’s “Christmas dinner” of roast duck, vegies and cranberries. It’s still dog food, but don’t tell her.
- Set yourself a reading project
Last January I challenged myself to read my Complete Works of Shakespeare, all 1200 pages, each 2 columns of 7 point font. I finished the task in September, adding a few Shakespeare-related movies as well as re-reading the signed and annotated script of Two Gentlemen of Verona which belonged to William Shatner. He was part of a stellar cast including Sir Paul McCartney, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, presenting Simply Shakespeare in aid of the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles. I won the script in his Hollywood Charity Horse Show auction which supports children’s and veterans’ charities. Your reading project can be anything that appeals to you. Dive into your To Be Read pile; re-read a childhood classic or book-of-the-movie you’ve been meaning to check out. Audible books are also a way to enjoy reading while doing holiday chores.
- Visit a new place
Whether the place is in your own neighbourhood, a park, a holiday market, museum, church or gallery, go with an open mind. A local group near me runs gingerbread-house-making classes, another has an exhibition of Christmas trees. Sit by a river soaking up the scenery. Soon after I was widowed, I spent one of my most rewarding holidays with friends who ran a large motel in a tourist destination. They were too busy to think about celebrating, which suited me, and I spent the time helping out wherever I could. We’d planned to work on making the perfect Margarita. We didn’t get to it until 10pm Christmas Day but it gave us a fun focus.
What does all this have to do with writing? I see it as refilling your well of story resources. Like any well, it can run dry if not replenished, ready for when you finally get time to create.
Can you add to this list? Share your thoughts in the comments below. They’re moderated to avoid spam but your comment can appear right away if you click on “sign me up” at right. I don’t share your details with anyone. This blog won’t be back until February, as I take a break to refill my own creative well.
Seasons greeting and happy writing!
@valerieparv on Twitter and Facebook
Save the Date
Saturday, 14 March 2020
Valerie Parv AM and Literary agent Linda Tate
present – Getting Back the Joy of Writing
for ACT Writers Centre
Comments on: "First Monday Mentoring Dec 2019 – 7 ways to reboot your writing for 2020" (12)
Reblogged this on wordrefiner and commented:
Some great ideas. Thanks. We all need time out of our heads.
I love these ideas. Combining new experiences with old is a great plan. Especially when young children are involved. They are never exactly the same as the last visit.
Thanks for the reblog, Mark, and it’s true that each experience is different from previous ones. Like the idea of involving young children, making the creative process even more wprthwhile.
Fabulous tips! Especially the cat-petting guide! 🙂
Great to see you here, Anne. The cat looks very like Jessie, my rent-a-cat, and the information is reliable – tested by me 🙂
For the past six years, I’ve written my own Christmas poem, which I print off, fold up and include in my Christmas cards. And poetry is not my forte but it is fun and personalises the Christmas greeting to my friends.
That is a lovely idea. I bet they appreciate it.
I don’t think these works have to be perfect; the recipients will enjoy them for the time you’ve taken to write them.
Downtown Denver has pianos outside of many shops just waiting for someone to play. So I did. Hadn’t played for a while but I enjoyed it!
I love this idea. Wish our town had something similar.
Thank you for the great ideas, Valerie! I think we should all shake things up once in a while — whether we’re writers or not! I think it’s good for the soul. Sticking to the same old routine and habits all the time is stifling and can grow old very fast. Here’s to a productive 2020! 🙂
Hi Tanya, very true that not only writers need to shake things up in life, we all do. I also wonder if stcking to old routines that don’t always serve us may be why so many people feel restless and bored and turn to distractions (binge watching, food, alcohol, substance abuse, toxic relationships) to feel more alive. Routines have a place, but we can always try new, simple, inexpensive changes. Happy 2020 to you, too.