It’s around this time of year that I begin to feel overwhelmed. The impending completion of 50,000 words as part of NaNoWriMo coupled with the acknowledgement that there are still many words to go before the manuscript shall be finished: the beginnings of Christmas alongside the idea that there will be long, restful periods where writing could be done, but shan’t because of family obligations and the desire to enjoy the down time: the thought of a New Year, where fresh starts are possible and I can review my progress with an invigorating pull to improve and develop those things that will ultimately be left undone due to that very feeling of being overwhelmed.
I still feel as though I have so much left to do. For some reason my brain is convinced I am running out of time, though I know this is caused by the arbitrary break between new year and old. In the period before Christmas things wind down, whilst also somehow get ramped up; the break my body longs for between Christmas and New Year is tempered by the organisation of family events and parties and celebrations. In the midst of all this, all I can see is all the writing I still have left to do and the fear that I won’t get chance to do it.
I never know, then, whether to plough on regardless or take a break. I want to rest – I am so tired – but I don’t want to let myself down either. I do want to write; to finish my NaNo #3 novel, to re-write those first three chapters of NaNo #1, to refine that short story I want to to submit. With the pace I have been averaging over the course of November all of these things should be possible. However, the expectations are weighing me down. I am afraid that I will struggle and that these struggles will beat me into submission – causing doubt and leading to procrastination.
It’s not just the writing, though. My regular job is the same – with different pressures, wider expectations and a multitude of relationship management (you’d think I’d be well practised at managing people, the way I manipulate the characters in my stories!). Not to mention the logistics of Christmas time, my birthday and the New Year. Three families to co-ordinate, presents to buy, plans to confirm and I dare not even think how many ‘Christmas drinks’ to attend.
All I want to do is continue to write and ignore everything else.
I know why this is. When I’m writing, it’s just me. I am the only one to think about (excluding the characters in my head!). I can control my own behaviours (even if I can’t control my character’s!). Everything else – work, parties, family occasions – I have less control over and more people to please than myself. It may be a little selfish of me to say, but right now, all I want to do is ‘Writer-nate’ (Hibernation with less sleep, more writing).
The solution, of course, is to identify a balance. Some compromise that will allow me to remain calm, write and still take part in the festive activities associated with this time of year. I do love Christmas, it has to be said. At the core of it I enjoy finding the perfect presents for people, the extravagant indulgence of wrapping with fancy paper and bows, the decorating of the tree and the general atmosphere tinged with just that slight, yet fanciful, belief that if magic were real this is the season it would happen in. Yet, I still want to dedicate time to my writing. Therefore I need to identify balance is essential. I’ll let you know how successful that might be in future posts….
Any tips for balancing the writing life with the festivities of Christmas time?
I’d appreciate any suggestions; let me know in comments.