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A Winter Holiday Survival Guide for Writers

(from david locke1)

I don't care who you are or how happy your family is, sometimes holiday celebrations are difficult, especially for introverts (and writers tend to be an introverted bunch!). The nonstop "people time" takes its toll, and even the awesomest families have some interesting dynamics to contend with. And so, I have some tips for getting you through the tough times even as you delight in the good times.

1. Go to bed early!

Nothing works better for squeezing in some much needed decompressing than the old "wow, I'm so tired, I think I'm going to skip off to bed (and then secretly type for an hour under the covers)" trick. Even when I don't go to bed early, I will usually stay up for an hour later than I'd like to just fiddling around on my computer because I need some Me Time. It helps a lot.

2. Make like a writer and observe!

It's easy to get so familiar with your family or friends that you don't really notice things about them anymore. But trying to look at your surroundings with a "beginner's mind" can give you fodder for stories (and not necessarily in a negative "I WILL IMMORTALIZE YOU IN FICTION" sort of way). Does Aunt Polly always bring that cheesecake no one likes? Does Uncle Dan always tell that one story about the elk? Has Grandma worn the same sweater for the past twenty years? Those interesting details, the quirks of families, can work a way into your stories, even if you never write about a holiday. People have habits; people indulge each other's weirdnesses out of love. Those are the things you can take note of at your holiday celebrations-- and it may make you appreciate your loved ones more, too.

3. Take extended bathroom breaks.

Sometimes you just need a few deep breaths in the most solitary room in your house. Just sayin'.

4. Drink a lot of water.

This is really just the advice I have for life in general. Lay off the 'nog every now and then. Water makes your body feel better and that makes it easier to be patient when your patience is tried...for whatever reason...

5. Be honest.

It took me several years to tell my family that sometimes I just needed some me time to recharge during holidays. I explained that it would help my time with them to be of higher quality, even if it took away from the quantity of time I spent, and that it didn't mean I didn't love them, it just meant that I got overstimulated easily. Now they understand that about me and they aren't offended when I duck out for a half hour or so every now and then-- as long as when I come back, I'm engaged and happy to be there.

I hope these tips help you through the rough patches in your holidays, and that every other time your days are merry, bright, and lovely.

Happy Holidays!

Veronica Roth

Veronica is the author of the NYT bestselling YA dystopian thriller series Divergent, published by Harper Collins/Katherine Tegen Books. She's also a graduate of Northwestern University, a Christian, and A Tall Person, among other things.

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  1. Great, great, great! I used pretty much every one of these tips. They come in handy; especially if you have a big, loud, southern family like I do. Happy, happy holidays!

  2. Haha these are hilarious. I definitely tried some of these. Thanks!

  3. Brilliant. I love a bathroom break for sanity :)


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Item Reviewed: A Winter Holiday Survival Guide for Writers Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Veronica Roth