Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Staying Productive During the Holiday Season

In my household, the holiday season began this past Sunday on the 1st Advent, the first of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. I still have to make my Adventskranz (Advent wreath), fill the Adventskalendar (Advent calendar) with chocolates and other sweets, and decorate my home. Cookies need to be baked, gifts need to be bought and wrapped, and Christmas cards need to be mailed. My anxiety level is steadily rising as I realize how little time I will have to devote to my writing.
I love Christmas, I really do. However, the additional social engagements and to-do lists are crowding my already full days, and I feel I have to make a plan in order to maintain a semblance of productivity. Here are my tips:

Write 10 Minutes Daily: I keep a cookie jar full of writing prompts next to my computer. Each day, I pull a prompt out of the jar and write for a full ten minutes. If I have the time and the ideas, I keep writing beyond the ten minutes. If not, I file the prompt and writing away. (Sidenote: Do not throw your prompts and writing away, even if you don’t like what you have written. You never know what gems are hidden in your short pieces.
Write a Creative Nonfiction Christmas Letter: I’m sure several of you have received a Christmas letter detailing the firsts little Georgie has accomplished since he was born a few months ago or the wonderful wedding and honeymoon your third cousin enjoyed this past summer. Write your own Christmas letter that you can send to friends and family. Even if nonfiction is not your genre, it is a great way to expand your writing horizons and to chronicle your family’s life.
Read Magazines: Magazines and articles are piled high on my coffee table. Throughout the year, I tackle larger projects. More than likely you won’t have time to write a novel or read Atlas Shrugged during the holidays. Focus on the shorter readings that are accumulating on your coffee table instead.
Listen to Audio Books: You may be spending a considerable amount of time in the car driving to relatives or sitting on the living room floor wrapping Christmas gifts. Upload an audio book to your IPod and expand your literary mind while completing some of the more monotonous tasks of the holiday season.
Set an Attainable Goal Weekly: This week I plan on rewriting a short story. I have to change the point of view from second to third person. My characters, description, and plot are written, so a few hours this Saturday and Sunday devoted to rewriting will allow me to achieve my goal. Don’t set a goal too daunting. More than likely you will not even attempt to begin your writing because you will feel you don’t have enough time to tackle the project since your sister-in-law will be showing up in two hours with three children in tow.

The last tip I have is something I abide by all year long: Always Carry a Small Notebook with You. Jot down any funny family occurrences or loving moments you witness this holiday season. You never know what great stories can be developed from these snippets of events!
I hope these tips assist you in staying productive this holiday season. So now it’s your turn readers. What are your tips for staying on top of your reading and writing this holiday season? 


  1. Good tips Christina. My holidays aren't so intense anymore, so I have more time for doing the things I need to get in the can. But these are good for any time of the year. :D

  2. Good ones! I think this year, I'm going to replace my notebook with a digital recorder! :)

    I tried the 10 minute daily thing and it lasted about 2 weeks. I need to stay dedicated to a routine or I won't feel the guilt when I break it!

    Happy Holidays!

  3. I try as hard as I can to writing for 10 minutes each day, although for me it is working on my work in progress, and not writing prompts. I have a book of prompts, though, that I'm iching to try out! Great tips!

  4. Hi Christina,

    I think a goal of 10 minutes a day is good - once you sit down you may write a whole lot longer :-)

    My Adventskalendar is ready - although I took the easy way out and ordered from


  5. @Diane Carlisle

    Thanks Diane! The digital recorder is a really good idea! It's much easier to pull a small recorder out of a purse while driving then to pull out a pen and pad all while keeping your eyes on the road. Let me know if which digital recorder you get!

  6. @Lara Schiffbauer

    Thank you Lara! What book of prompts do you have? Let me know how you like the book. In the past I've pulled the prompts off of various websites, and this becomes tedious since most of the prompts are duds.

  7. @E.D.

    Danke E.D.! I always enjoy receiving packages from I love how they put a ribbon on the top of the inside of the package that has the colors of the German flag. Which Adventskalendar did you get?

  8. These are great ideas, Christina! I especially like the idea to write for ten minutes a day. Sometimes it feels impossible to find time, but 10 minutes is doable!