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    Keeping Your Writing Going During the Holidays

    Here we go again. For many of us, these are the most hectic weeks of the year, filled to the brim with shopping, attending parties and get-togethers, cleaning our houses from top to bottom before the guests arrive, addressing and mailing greeting cards, baking cookies, wrapping gifts--ah yes, it's the gloriously manic holiday season!

    On top of all that, a lot of us writers also juggle full-time jobs, raise children (many of whom are in holiday plays or concerts that we need to go to), perform volunteer work for charities or churches, and/or take care of aging parents. Small wonder that finding the time and energy to write between now and the first of the new year seems virtually impossible.

    But your writing doesn't have to get stored away until after the holiday rush. In fact, it shouldn't--if nothing else, the madness, the fun, the spirituality and the opportunities to reconnect with relatives and old friends this time of year can provide us with enough fuel to stoke our writing fires for months to come.

    How can we incorporate writing into our frenetic holiday schedules? Try employing some of these tips and techniques:

    1. Do as much of your holiday shopping as you can online. Imagine how much time you'll save--no traffic tie-ups, no searching for parking spaces, no standing in seemingly endless lines. And, seeing that you're already seated at your computer, get some writing in between purchases!

    2. Would you rather get caught up in the holiday bustle, or perhaps you can't find the perfect gifts online? Then bring a mini-recorder and/or pen and notebook with you when you shop. Record every little thing that you observe, from the crying child in the toy aisle to the wheelchair-bound shopper trying to maneuver her way through the crowds. You'll be amazed at what will emerge from these little snippets and vignettes.

    3. Put a moratorium on television viewing. Who needs to watch those holiday specials again this year anyway? OK, if you're into sports, or have a couple of favorite programs (that aren't repeats), you can treat yourself to these. But keep that notebook handy, so you can jot down notes and ideas during commercial breaks.

    4. Search for other time-wasters, and ruthlessly cut them out. For example, I tend to get a lot of email, and start each morning by reading as many of them as I can. Lately, though, I've gotten into the habit of deleting all but the most important messages without even opening them. Writing-related messages, and personal notes (not jokes or forwards) from family and friends are the only ones I actually read. Unbelievable, the amount of time this saves me to devote to writing.

    5. Delegate some of your holiday tasks if you can. Do you really need to do all the cleaning, shopping, decorating, gift wrapping and baking yourself? Can you get your spouse and kids more involved, hire a housekeeper, order from a bakery, and/or let the volunteers in the mall wrap your gifts for you? Saving a half hour here and there can really add up into quality writing time.

    6. Most of all, make time to take care of yourself during this most demanding of seasons. Get adequate rest, eat well, and get some exercise in. All of these will boost your energy levels, help you keep from getting overwhelmed, and enable you to find creative ways to accomplish all you need to do over the coming weeks.

    Making time to write during the holiday season is your gift to yourself. Give as generously as you can, and you'll find that this can truly be a magical, memorable, wonderful time of year for you.

    Here's to your writing success.

    Copyright © 2003 Mary Anne Hahn

    Mary Anne Hahn is editor of WriteSuccess, a free biweekly ezine of ideas, information and inspiration for writers. She is also building a Web site that hopes will someday be one of the best online resources for new and experienced writers alike. To check out her growing site and subscribe to her ezine visit http://writesuccess.com.

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