A small miracle occurred this last fortnight since, in between present buying/wrapping/giving/receiving, in between tree decorating, food buying/preparing/eating/clearing-up, a few hospital appointments, Carol Concerts and church services, in between socialising, relation-visiting and charade playing, a new poem emerged. Hallelujah! There’s even been a submission or two, some re-drafting, some reading of submissions to And Other Poems, and the idea of a theme for my first full collection is emerging. Praise the Holy Saints of Poetry.
But, if you’re deep into a creative project, Christmastime, as any out-of-the-ordinary time, can leave you feeling tense and conflicted. You feel you want to make progress with your writing (in my case) but your usual study space is awash with wrapping paper and the odd splash of fizzy alcohol. Then there’s the feelings of guilt when you’re not really available for your friends and loved ones. Sure, you might be physically in the room, but the chances are your mind is elsewhere, planning, plotting, writing and re-writing, editing, organising or deleting. You find yourself half-listening to conversations while you’re keeping an eye on the clock and waiting for the first opportunity to head back to your cluttered writing desk.
Sometimes, strangely, I think these conflicted feelings can be good for creativity. Having less time available can actually increase productivity since you make the most of whatever time is available to you. And feelings of friction and tension can sometimes unearth a grittier quality of work – don’t ask me to explain the science of this, I just know that I write better when there is something not quite right, something slightly uncomfortable, about my situation.
Even so, I was glad to read this article shared by the Scottish Book Trust on Twitter, ‘How to Fit Writing Time into the Holidays‘. There’s a lot of commonsense here, not really anything new, but I thought it was helpful to be reminded of the basic rules for increasing productivity. One thing I wish I could be better at is getting up an hour earlier. I love the idea of this so much, the thought of being the first awake, working alone in the quiet of the house, knowing the rest of my family are safe in their beds, a hot beverage in my hands, my empty page before me waiting to be filled with work of genius. Sigh. Andrew, my husband, is hard to beat on the early rising front, although I do, often, wake early, make tea, and read and write in bed, sometimes gaining headway with a piece of writing. This feels like cheating, though. I am rather fond of making New Year’s resolutions, so an earlier-rising and sitting down at my desk time is going to be something I’ll strive for, next year.
And that reminds me that this will probably be my final blog of the year (although you never know….) so, let me take this opportunity to wish you all the very best for the rest of the year, and for 2016.