Guest Post by Amy Poeppel, author of Small Admissions.
The holiday season is the perfect time for all you Writers out there to be your most productive selves! By stepping out of the break-neck pace and complications of everyday life, you will find the holidays are a wonderful time to focus, let inspiration emerge, and work productively on that comedic romance novel you’ve been trying to write.
6:30 You have twelve hours ahead of you before your pot-luck dinner party. Here’s your chance to write pages and pages of clever prose. Go for it! Greet the day with a stretch, a coffee, and — without delay — settle in for a long period of drafting. Pro-Tip: Take advantage of these precious, solitary morning hours!
6:32 Coffee doesn’t make itself, of course. Take the dog out while it brews.
6:36 As you wait for Buster to do his business, you notice that the lightbulb is burned out on the front porch. Aunt Edith is coming tonight, and you don’t want her falling. Go to the garage, get a ladder, and dig around for the right outdoor bulb.
7:12 Fill a mug of coffee and get to work.
7:14 Aunt Edith calls: “Mashed potatoes don’t travel,” she says. She’s bringing a pie instead. You already have five pies coming, but you don’t argue. You have more important, writerly things to do.
7:18 Feed the dog and feed the cat. Feed the hamster.
7:22 Take a quick picture of the dog for Instagram; pose him with the hamster against a festive background. Strategically place a book in the scene. Your readers will appreciate these details.
8:02 In the quiet of your office, open your laptop, and do a quick check of your social media channels as a way of “clearing the deck” for heightened concentration. Post the dog/hamster picture.
8:35 Husband is awake. Quickly remind him of his responsibilities for the evening’s festivities: tending the bar and the fire. He needs clarification. What’s to clarify? Explain the duties. Repeat. Consider the idea that your romantic comedy might be better as a murder mystery.
8:37 Kids are awake. Scramble eggs, locate clean underpants, scrape dog poop off the sole of a shoe. Suggest an all-family, quiet reading period.
9:39 Turn on a movie instead. Fight ensues over which movie.
10:26 Aunt Edith calls. She doesn’t have the right ingredients for a pie. She’s bringing her artichoke spinach dip instead. Fine, whatever. Check your notifications: Only four people have liked your Instagram post. WTF.
11:14 Your mom arrives. She is seven hours early but this is nice because someday you’ll be glad you had this time with her. Take her to the family room to play with the kids.
12:19 Your dad arrives. He is two days early. Take him to your office to watch the football game, avoiding the family room. Good times.
12:35 Your mom would like to make homemade playdough with the kids. She never did this sort of thing when you were a child, but how lovely. Go to the store because no, you don’t have Cream of Tartar.
1:42 Traffic is heavy. Use this alone time in the car to brainstorm ideas for your novel. If you set the murder mystery in 19th century England, it would make for great historical fiction. Think of fun ways to pose your dog in period costumes for Instagram.
2:46 Arrive home. Your dad can no longer find the football game. He shows you the words “no signal” on the fuzzy screen. He has no idea how this happened, it just happened.
2:53 Sit at the kitchen table and try to jot down some of the ideas you had in the car. Your mom comes in and asks for the Wi-Fi password. Give it to her. She insists it doesn’t work. It does, it fucking works. “May I try?” you say sweetly, asking for her phone. “Well,” she says, “Somebody’s cranky.”
3:57 Clean up after the sandwich buffet you threw together and eat the crusts from a PB&J.
4:12 Your husband comes in and asks for a reminder of his duties. Fire, asshole. Fire and booze. That’s it. Say nothing, write it on a post-it note for him.
4:16 Aunt Edith calls. The spinach artichoke dip will be too heavy, even if she were to use fat-free cream cheese. None of us, she says pointedly, need that many calories. She’ll bring a bag of baby carrots instead.
4:23 Take your laptop to the bathroom, lock the door, and sit on the floor. What was that character name you just thought of? It had exactly the right ring to it. Marge? Madge?
4:37 Your youngest knocks on the bathroom door, asking if he can clean the hamster cage. You say yes, pleased by his initiative. “Why are you in there so long?” He asks. “Do you have diarrhea?”
4:58 Emerge from the bathroom with a newly formatted title page in a kickass font.
5:02 Your mom, having talked to your youngest, offers you Pepto Bismol.
5:04 Your dad has lost the remote control.
5:06 Your youngest has lost the hamster.
5:07 Your husband has lost the post-it note.
5:09 The dog has lost control of his bowels on the hallway runner.
5:11 Throw out the carpet; there’s not enough Resolve Carpet Cleaner in the world.
5:19 Your husband is testing out a few signature holiday cocktail recipes. Offer to be his taster.
5:52 After one pumpkin-martini, one apple-spice whiskey sour, a cranberry-chai sangria, and a ginger-bell punch, sit down and write 553 words in the time remaining. Read through it, and realize it’s clearly literary fiction. Read the page again. Wait, no, that’s poetry! Instead of setting the table, imagine the speech you’ll deliver at the awards ceremony.
6:26 Doorbell rings. Time’s up! After a solid day of holiday writing, remember to save your work.
6:31 Fucking Aunt Edith calls. She’s exhausted and won’t be joining you tonight. Or maybe she will, but she can’t say for sure. In either case, she won’t be bringing anything.