By Michelle Ramsey
Getting lured into the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is tempting at best. Most people want to flow with the magic and beauty draped around the town in the essence of lights cascading from lampposts, the tinkling of the bells in the stores, or the jolly laughter of the mall Santa taking pictures with the children. Others desire to engage in parties with shimmering gowns, dazzling lights, dashing gentlemen, and the enchantment of compassion and kindness in the strangers that we meet. However, it’s almost impossible as a writer when you have deadlines looming overhead to engage in all the glitz and glamour of the season, unless of course you’re writing about them.
As a writer, I have deadlines to meet on every front, whether they are for this magazine, or for the contractors whom I ghostwrite for. The topics that I’m writing about aren’t always centered on the holiday theme. It becomes challenging to feel the holiday spirit if you’re tucked away in your favorite writing spot, dashing off a few thousand words per day about a summer in Brazil, or the divorce of a debutante, or some similar issue.
Most writers like to have music while they write. It helps to draw us into the moment so that our muse can come out to play and allow us to pour all energy and passion into that work. I have found that I can still immerse myself in the holiday spirit with all the other expectations that rest on me from my writing processes. While the subject that I tackle may have nothing to do with the holiday spirit, I can change my environment to reflect what I need it to be.
If you have a specific space in your house that you love to write, take an hour or two to transform that space. Purchasing a small pre-lit tree to place on your desk, hanging some lights around your window, and hanging a little mistletoe over the door can transform your space in a matter of moments. If you really want to get creative and do something different, Google a few DIY projects that are easy to re-create in order to change your writing space.
A miniature tree made of pinecones and spritzed in fake snow will do the same job as a pre-lit desktop tree. Decorate your office or writing space door with a few sprigs of pine and a glitzy acorns. A household planter tied in a ribbon tucked away in a corner filled with colorful pinecones, ornaments, and fresh sprigs of pine makes a great visual reminder of the season.
I have found that I am emotionally tied to music and it alters the mood that I am in. If you find that your writing topic doesn’t require you to have music to set the theme, change your music selection to your favorite Christmas music. There’s nothing like Cee-Lo Green singing Mary Did You Know, the Temptations’ Silent Night or Someday at Christmas, or Donny Hathaway’s This Christmas to get me in the Christmas spirit.
At some point during your writing routine, you must take a break. It’s impossible to remain fresh and creative without taking some downtime. During this time, whether you are cleaning the house, or cooking a meal, listen to some Christmas music or read a Scripture related to the birth of our Savior and His purpose on Earth. When it’s time for you to relax, don’t neglect those precious moments. Relieve the stress of the season and the busyness of your writing schedule by looking at a Christmas movie. Whether old or new, you’re sure to find some cheer in watching a Christmas movie that’s guaranteed to have an inspirational message woven throughout. Lifetime, ABC Family, and Hallmark are popular choices to catch Christmas movies on during the season.
Scents create nostalgic connections to our past, causing us to reminisce about favorable or unfavorable moments from our past. Because our olfactory reactions are tied to the emotional centers of our brain, we tend to reflect on past moments when we smell certain scents. Lighting a vanilla, pine, or apple and cinnamon scented candle can bring memories of Christmas to the forefront while you’re writing.
The primary way to continue to be immersed in the holiday spirit, while deadlines are looming is to engage in the holiday. Setting expectations on your family and friends that you will have to disengage at a point can help hold you accountable. Dedicate certain days to writing and hold yourself to keeping those deadlines even in the midst of the holiday season. When you find yourself with nothing to do, or spending an inordinate amount of time watching TV or just lounging, use those moments to write.
Staying committed to a schedule you have already set, and getting writing in whenever possible will allow you to finish ahead of schedule. At this point you can reward yourself by taking a day off to participate in fun activities, such as ice skating, shopping, taking pictures with Santa, or getting to that holiday party you were invited to.
If your place of worship will be holding a Christmas program, take out time to participate. If you don’t have time to participate as a singer, dancer, or actor, perhaps engage in some other way. Maybe, you can volunteer to help out with the props, or the dress rehearsal. No time for that? Make sure to show up on the day of the program and watch all the hard work everyone has poured into that special day. Just attending a program will keep you immersed in the holiday spirit and become an integral part of keeping you in the Christmas mood. Not to mention your church family would love to see you there to help them celebrate their success.
Regardless of the time constraints you face this holiday season, don’t disengage from it. This is a beautiful time of year, where more often than not people come together to demonstrate love and peace towards one another. It’s revitalizing for the spirit and uplifting for your family and friends. Being an instrumental part of that will go a long way towards building memories for you to reflect on in the years to come. Probably the most valuable takeaway from your experience aside from the memories, will be the knowledge that you gain allowing you to pour that into your craft. For every experience that you engage in, your writing will become that much more enhanced.
Above all don’t miss out on the joy and true meaning of the season. Immerse yourself in it if for no other reason than to celebrate our Savior.
What ways do you maintain the holiday spirit when deadlines are looming? How do you weave the Christmas theme into your writing environment? Do you find that changing your environment to reflect the season inspires you?
"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6).
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