3 Ways the Holidays Can Revive Your Book

by Amanda Polick
published in Writing

The end of the year is filled with stockpiles of sweets, long lines at the grocery store, and a constant reminder that the clock is ticking on your goals—like where you wanted to be with your manuscript. Even if you’ve boycotted the holidays like Chandler Bing with his Thanksgiving grilled cheese and Frank Costanza with Festivus, you still have to get through the season the best you can. It also doesn’t have to be stressful for your writing practice (or your sanity).

So if you feel like you want to throw all of your pages out of the window because you’re not sure where to go, here are 3 ways the holidays can revive your book. It’s time to let the holidays leave you and your book feeling brighter and happier, no matter how you spend them. 

1. Slow Down and Soak in the Moment

One of the best parts of the holidays is the opportunity to slow down. There’s less guilt about enjoying an extra cup of hot chocolate or wine. You’re allowed to linger and savor conversations, meals, and as many old movies as you like. 

Maybe it’s the twinkle lights or heaps of cookies that show up everywhere, but every moment feels thick with magic.

Most of the year is spent rushing off to the next thing, so let yourself soak in everything this season has to give. Take the long way home to look at Christmas lights on your favorite street. Grab your baking sheets and some friends for a gingerbread-making afternoon. Order the kringle from the bakery with the line around the corner—it’s worth the slight frostbite.

You never know what can pop up when you lean into the holidays. The same is true for your book. 

As a writer, there’s pressure to produce pages and to be in a constant creative flow. What if you just soaked in how it feels to write again? Instead of trying to get through it, slow down. Make an extra-large pot of coffee, put on some festive instrumental music, and block out time for writing. 

If you stare out the window for 30 minutes, it’s okay. 

Feel like rereading your entire manuscript? Do it. 

Want to pull out old material just because? No one is stopping you.

Whatever you do with your time is exactly what you should do this season, so enjoy it while it lasts. This act of savoring the feeling of writing can help you revive your book.

2. Get Curious About How Traditions Started

Ever notice how people seem to do the same things every year, but no one knows why? You’re also doing it with your book. For some reason, you have an idea in your head that this is how your story has to be because you’ve always imagined it that way.

Now is the time to get curious and ask questions.

With the holidays, why did your dad never let you eat latkes with applesauce? Why does the next-door neighbor, Connie, make glögg for her annual party when she’s not Swedish? Who started putting walnuts and oranges in stockings and how can you make it stop?

Well, your dad thought applesauce looked like baby food and didn’t want that touching his bubbe’s pristine latkes. Your neighbor used to have a Swedish roommate who would throw dinner parties all throughout December with a kitchen full of glögg ready for anyone with an empty mug. And the nuts and fruits in stockings? Your mom’s great-grandparents started it during the Depression and stuck with the family ever since.

When you get curious about origin stories, it’s easier to see why things happen—which is crucial to reviving your book and writing. 

Ask yourself some of the same questions, including:

  • How did this all start?
  • Why have you continued with this version of it?
  • What (if anything) can you change?

By getting curious, you open the window for fresh ideas, which is exactly what you need to revive your book for this last part.

3. New Places to Go and Things to Eat

Now that you’ve slowed down and gotten curious about your own holiday routines, you can branch out. As tempting as it is to keep things as they are, every tradition starts somewhere. It’s your turn to do something different.

Maybe you channel your year abroad in Japan and invite your family over for a traditional Kentucky Fried Chicken Christmas dinner. Not sure what to bring to your first neighborhood potluck? Ask your uncle for his Groundnut stew recipe. Throwing a New Year’s Party sans the booze? Stock up on non-alcoholic spirits and test out some new mocktail recipes.

And don’t be afraid to shake things up with your book. Grab a stack of index cards and map out your chapters or outline. Rearrange them on the floor or a whiteboard and write new ideas on additional notecards. Let yourself see where your book could go if it started differently or if you cut out a huge chunk. 

Still not sure how to get the creativity flowing? Listen to a writing podcast. Watch the movie version of your favorite book. Grab your headphones and the soundtrack to your favorite musical. Test out a new recipe from your new cookbook.

Implementing different techniques to use for your writing practice will be easier the more you do it. Pretty soon, you won’t be holding onto the one way you write or approach your story. You’ll be open to the endless ways your book could unfold, which will help revive your book. 

Keeping the Holiday Spirit Alive

Wouldn’t it be great if you could bottle up the feelings of the season to keep year-round? Well, the good news is you can. The holidays are just a designated time to slow down, lean into traditions, and be open to what’s around the corner. 

Every project needs a reset, so drop the guilt and lean into everything this holiday season brings to your creative doorstep. Then, when you feel burned out on writing your book throughout the year, remember that you can revisit these three ways to revive your book anytime you want. You can even throw on some Rudolph tunes if need be.

recipes for readers

Amanda Polick is a writer and book coach, who guides food folks through the writing process. Her work has been featured by Cooking Light, Food & Wine and Time. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee now, but a piece of her will be in California forever. To connect with Amanda, you can find her on her website.

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