Many writers have to work two if not more jobs and are used to working on their W.I.P’s (work-in-progress) in mornings, evenings and weekends around their ‘day-job’ schedule, grabbing any spare time they can in the few quiet moments that exist in a modern life.
Despite the hectic work schedule of any household running a faultless Christmas Day of family entertainment, the day itself can throw up some rare opportunities to steal a few moments to plough on with that next writing project. So if you like a challenge, here’s my 5 top tips on stealing time to write this Christmas Day.
1/The Early Turkey Escapes the Cleaver: Without doubt your best chance to find that window of serenity will be in the early hours. So set that alarm, sneak downstairs and use subtle lamplight and a slightly parted curtain to get you off to a 2 hour belter of a start to the day. The solitude won’t last, so get yourself a brew and get to work, before breakfast, present opening and tales of drunken family antics from Christmas Eve dull your inspiration. Depending on your family, this may have to be as early as 5am, but it’ll put you in an amazing mood to tackle the day ahead.
2/The Toilet Break: Don’t be ashamed, many people do their best thinking on the bog, and it gives you a locked door to hide behind. Better suited to print out edits rather than laptop work, but who cares, really? As long as the laptop isn’t over heating on your ass – literally! Over the course of the day anyone can get away with a good hour in the crapper – 6 x 10 minute breaks should suffice without your family posting you as M.I.A. That’s an hour of time on your new novel, in exchange for a few funny looks from people who will be so drunk at the end of the day, they’ll think they’ve imagined it in a very boring dream. The kids will just think you’ve got the shits, no biggie! Wear gloves, make up a tummy bug, but you’ll be glad you did it.
3/ The quantum mechanics of solace: Whilst the family snooze in the afternoon, after copious amounts of food and too much wine, put on a Bond film. Doesn’t matter which one, but make sure it’s one you know well. This plan will entail you having kept your alcohol intake in check, but grab a shower if you’ve let it slip with the Bucks Fizz. Grab a coffee, bottle of water, and you can even work in the living room in full view if you can withstand the odd interjection from a snoring relative or clingy child, but this period could prove fruitful with a possible hour of work up for grabs.
4/ When Hell Freezes over: It’s going to happen, so don’t fight it. They can’t hold you back anymore. Make it work for you. Turn your back and slam the door if you have to, but Disney’s ‘Frozen’ will find its way onto your TV at some stage during the day. Allow your mind to wander into your fantasy world at the back of the room and don’t let them in, don’t let them see. As the rest of the family murder a succession of catchy little ditties that have driven some to drink, some to X Factor auditions and others into asylums be the good person you always have to be and write. Put on the sing-a-long version and let everything fade away and take 1:42:00’s worth of time for yourself, for a bit of light editing. And don’t be too hard on yourself if your concentration is not absolute and you make the odd mistake, just let it go; the misplaced colon never bothered me anyway…
5/The Nakatomi Principle: Christmas night is a time for festive family fun, but we’re a predictable lot aren’t we, so when the Crimbo movie arguments begin, vote for Die Hard, and reluctantly withdraw to the back of the room. The familiar plot and explosions will not eat into a valuable 2:12:00 of writing time and let your weary fingers guide you through the final hours of a productive Christmas of writing. Employ the Nakatomi principle and reap the dividends – Yippee-Ki-Yay Mother…sorry Mr McClane, none of that language here please…this is a family show.