IS LABOR DAY A PRODUCTIVE WRITING DAY FOR YOU?
I have a secret. Well, a preference really. I hate not working on holidays—and by working, I mean writing.
To me, a day off from the day job is the perfect day to write. I have started several books and written entire short stories and picture books on holidays. For some reason, I find it personally and professionally rewarding. Any holiday becomes a productive day for me.
And you can make any holiday a productive writing day for you, too.
The problem is too many writers see writing as work—and nothing makes you want to avoid it on the holidays more than the word work.
Now, I understand it’s not always easy. Unfortunately, a holiday specifically designed to give workers a day off is a day people in dozens of professions have to work, whether it be in the service industry or the essential services.
And then there’s the family. They don’t understand that you need to write. They want to barbecue outdoors, open presents, see the fireworks, or gather for afternoon dinners and football games. And heaven help you if you’re the one designated to do the cooking, cleaning, wrapping, driving, you name it. There just isn’t time to do it all.
Or is there?
Only, if like any other day, you make time for it.
5 Ways to Find Time to Write on a Holiday
- Learn from your kids (or your own childhood). I know you were looking forward to ten hours of sleep—heck, even eight hours if you have kids, which means you’ll settle for six. Because your kids will be up at the crack of dawn raring to go. They’re off from school and are bound and determined to make the most of their day off. You must have the same childhood delight, but instead of tearing through presents, you have to tear through your manuscript.
- Plot the day. You may be a pantser when it comes to writing your novel, but you can still be a plotter and planner when it comes to your day off. I often pre-make some foods the day before a holiday to cut down on meal-prep time. And there’s nothing wrong with store-bought pie. Anyone who doesn’t like it is free to take up baking. And while I’m a last-minute Christmas shopper, I am not a last-minute wrapper. I often wrap the presents as soon as I get them home, then hide them. This way I’m not up till four in the morning wrapping bikes and beeping toys and wondering why in the hell I didn’t buy enough AA batteries to send Energizer’s CEO to the Bahamas for the season. It gets me a few more hours of sleep, which means I’m not nodding off at my laptop later that night.
- Don’t be embarrassed. People always ask what you want for your birthday or some other gift-giving holiday. Tell them. Tell them you want two hours (or more) to write, and when they say, “Sure, when?” tell them on that holiday. Tell them you want two hours alone or your birthday, Christmas, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, you name it, depending upon what traditions allow. A word of warning though: asking for time alone on Valentine’s Day may not work.
- Know what you want to work on before you sit down to write. Most writers only have limited time to pound away on their keyboards, but holiday time can be particularly limited. Don’t hesitate. Review your notes the day before, or say to yourself, “That’s it, I’m finishing Chapter 7 and no one can stop me.”
- Work around your responsibilities. If someone else is doing the cooking, see if you can’t sneak away to write then. Same with cleaning up or driving to your in-laws. Can you blow off the football game, pool party, or fireworks?
If holidays are supposed to be leisurely and fun-filled and relaxing, well, what better way to spend it than doing the one thing you love most? I’m not saying your day off means constantly keeping your nose to the grindstone, but you have to put in the work if you ever want to get that book done. Holidays—even Labor Day—are no reason not to work (just don’t view it as work!).
Now, sure, your family might think you’re antisocial, but you’re a writer—it’s expected. They’ll still be happy for you when your book comes out. They may not understand the hard work and sacrifices you made to get there, but they’ll be happy for you. Almost (but not quite) as happy as a kid on Christmas morning. Hopefully you will be, too.