Holiday Sanity Survival Kits for Writers

Hello, hello!  The holiday season approaches and it’s another blog hop edition of the Life List Club!  For those of you already stressing as to how to get everything done, you know the shopping, the cleaning, the cooking, the writing, the errands, the social gatherings, the donation requests, the pounding of your head on your desktop, rest at ease!  Pam Hawley from Hawleyville is here to guide us through!  So grab some hot cocoa, marshmallows are on the table, and settle in.

Holiday Sanity Survival Kits for Writers

A few weekends ago, Lee and I gave our ferret Vinnie a bath. Every once in a while, he gets a little itchy and … well, smelly. As you can see by the expression on his face, he’s not exactly fond of bath time. I’m pretty sure he thinks we’ve devised some new form of weasel torture. Vin isn’t the first ferret to share my home, and this has been a trait all of them have shared. Wet weasels just aren’t happy.

Weasel Washing

The thing is, they always feel so much better after bath time. They may not care about being soft, fluffy and good-smelling, but they’re definitely happy not to be itchy anymore. Like it or not, a bath now in then is a good thing.

As we kick off another holiday season, I’m feeling a bit like Vinnie during bath time.  I’m a WWDJ (Writer with a Day Job), so the season of adding even more to the to-do list always puts me in a panic. I’m an introvert who needs quiet time to reflect, recharge and write. The thought of adding shopping, decorating, family gatherings and the inevitable round of parties to my already crazy schedule has me feeling like a weasel in a bath – all washed up.

But just like a little ferret shampoo and water is a good thing for Vin, the holiday season that puts me in such a tizzy is also good for me. Time celebrating and being thankful with family and friends is a precious gift, and something worth making room for in our lives.
So, what does an introverted writer who is already pulled in too many directions do when life is about to get even busier? If you’re anything like me, you’re putting together your survival kit. During the Season of Social Fun, it is more important than ever to have those things that help you relax and recharge close at hand. Making a little time each day to spend with my handy-dandy survival kit revitalizes both me and my writing. My kit includes:

My Kindle

My reward at the end of a busy day is to curl up on my couch with my trusty friend, even if it is only for a little while. What I love best about my Kindle is that I can stock it up with plenty of reading choices without having to lug around a small library. I’ve got short stories, favorites to re-read, new authors to try, and plenty of writing advice at my fingertips. Inspiration, lessons and pure guilty pleasure are all there for the taking.

My Camera

As much fun as the holidays will be, they will hijack some of my creative mojo. For an introvert, being zapped during incredibly social times is just a fact of life. So when I sit down to write and the words won’t come, I grab my camera and head off for a photography session. My subjects are simple – my ferret, my cat, or even the mailbox in my front yard. Sometimes the pictures are awful, and sometimes they come out great. Either way, I’m clearing my head and forcing myself to look at something ordinary in a new light. That simple act reconnects me to my creative spirit.

A Notebook

For those busy days when there just isn’t time to sit and type, I keep a pen and notebook handy. I’m not going to write my novel that way, but I can jot down snippets and random ideas or observations that I may use down the road. Again, it is about not leaving my creativity behind even when running at top speed.

My Pets

     There is nothing more calming and soothing than to sit and pet my cat Sly while he head-butts my Kindle or purrs in my lap. There is nothing more energizing than watching Vin bounce around my bedroom making happy “clucking” noises and doing the “weasel war dance.” Sly’s lazy yawns and stretches are a constant reminder that the world won’t stop turning if I take a few minutes to yawn and stretch myself. Vin’s playful hops are a reminder that life should be lived with joy in every step.

During the holidays, it is even more important to recharge ourselves if we want to stay on track with our goals. These are my tools for dealing with life at top speed. Do you know what belongs in your survival kit? If not, figure it out before you think about buying gifts, cooking turkeys or digging out the decorations.. Your kit might look very different from mine. Maybe it is a favorite video game and your comfiest chair or a stack of funny movies, a bottle of wine and scented candles. It doesn’t matter WHAT you have in your kit, as long as it makes you breathe a huge sigh of relief at the end of a busy day.

What gets you through the busier times in your life? What helps you relax and recharge so that you can enjoy all the fun of the holiday season while still making progress in your goals?

In addition to short fiction, Pam Hawley writes humor pieces and is working on her first novel, which blends the creepy and the funny by bringing a brutally murdered “player” back to life as a naked ghost. Her short story “A Wingding and A Prayer” appeared in the July issue of eFiction  Magazine (available at Her short horror fiction, “Peanut Butter and Jelly,” will appear in The Spirit of Poe Anthology available at When not working, writing or in the gym, Pam can most likely be found curled up on her couch reading, hanging out at her family pub Hawley’s in Baltimore, or cheering the Pittsburgh Steelers. She blogs regularly at

36 responses

  1. Now I have to get a Kindle. Right now my cat chews on the corners of my books, and I don’t think she can do that if I have a Kindle.

    1. I’m really thinking of getting one too. Just for the convenience of travel or running errands and not lugging around so many books. But I know I’ll buy the books too! I think 90% of my Christmas list is going to be books my book club is reading next year, and other book recommendations from bloggers. Yay!

      1. I actually haven’t bought more than a few books since going Kindle, but that’s mainly because I am truly out of storage space and won’t have time to go through and give away older books I can part with to make room for more (always SUCH a hard decision for me!) until after the holidays. I still love the feel of reading an actual book too.

      2. Look at the Nook, too. Kristen and I both love ours.

        1. One of these days, I will. I have a co-worker who loves her Nook!

    2. I had a cat years ago who used to do that! No, Sly has never tried to chew the Kindle, but he’s all about head-butting it or trying to walk on it … : ).

  2. I also have mixed feelings about the holidays, Pamela, and so much more stuff to deal with. But all the extra eating opportunities help to make up for it.

    I’ve have an Ipad for a year now, and I’ve recently decided that I need a Kindle. I’m hoping Santa brings me one.

    1. I hope he brings you one too, Gary – and he can bring me an Ipad while he’s at it : )!

    2. Me too!!! Dear Santa, Please give Gary and I each a Kindle Fire!!

  3. Great post! The upcoming holidays can bring me into a panic attack. I’m more of a quiet individual and don’t like crowds, even is it IS family. I enjoyed reading your suggestions and it pushed me to think “now” about this Thanksgiving and Christmas.
    Thank you.

    1. It always feels good be mentally prepared, doesn’t it? I love all the fun times, seeing family, and of course all the celebration and goodies, but definitely need to keep my “recharge” time in place if I don’t want to burn out!

    2. Keep us posted on what’s in your survival kit! Good luck planning some you time this holiday season, Patti!

  4. I think the important thing is just to remember to take a little time for you. Everything else will fall into place!

    1. So true – one of the wisest things a former boss of mine used to say to me when I’d get in a frenzy about too much to do was “if any one of them doesn’t get done today, will anyone get hurt or die? No? Then do what you can and then go home and relax …”

    2. Ok Mommy Dearest, make sure you follow your own advice this holiday season!! 🙂 Or else we’ll sick Pam’s weasel on you, “Put down the baby toys or the weasel bites!” LOL

      1. Too funny! Will have to work on Vin, because right now he only nibbles : ).

  5. Love your holiday survival kit. I love my iPad, but I’ve decided I want a Kindle–mainly for the instant gratification of being able to get books instantly. When I researched yesterday’s post, I ended up buying one of my sources on Kindle. I used the iPad’s Kindle app to search out phrases and keywords to do my post. Very, very useful.

    As for the upcoming holidays, I think it’s all about finding what works. Turns out, what works for us is not spending all day Thanksgiving day and Christmas day on the road. My family all live about two hours away, and they don’t have a place for us to spend the night. So, if we go have dinner with them, it’s a four hour round trip. It’s all about balance, don’t you know. 😀

    1. Oh yeah, that’s an awful long road trip not to be an overnighter! I haven’t used my Kindle for research yet, but I know I will – now you’ve got me excited to try that : )!

    2. Oh I hear ya on the drives home. I have a 3 hour drive each way (more depending on whether it’s blizzarding outside too) to get home and it makes for a whirlwind weekend when I go home. It’s worth it, but it’s exhausting too. I’ll be stocking up on audio books, which I find really wonderful on long drives.

    3. Jeez, Catie, not one family member can put you up? That really makes for a tough day. I’m two hours (and more from some) from all our family, too. They’ve offered to put us up, but we”re more comfortable in a hotel room. Fortunately we don’t have to do that often.

  6. Great post! I think there’s a lot times in our lives when we have to get through the bath to get to the good stuff. We just have to make sure we keep ourselves geared up for the more challenging times. Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. Thanks Sonia! Vin still doesn’t believe that getting through the bath is a good thing, but I’m getting there : ).

    2. And if you’re having a bad day, take a little time and play at Right, Sonia? 😀

      1. makemeazombie? Will have to check that out : ).

  7. On Thanksgiving we have all 4 kids and their families come stay at our house, which means we have people sleeping in most of the rooms. We don’t have a dishwasher, so the dishwashing is unbelievable. I get so tired because before they even show up, I’ve already put in a lot of hours preparing the house and the food. And they stay for the weekend. I love it but it exhausts me. So I find a quiet place for myself and get out MY kindle and read something fun to relax. I also use a heating pad on my back, whether I need it or not. It totally relaxes me.

    1. I so agree about the heating pad – it is such a relaxing feeling whether your back is achy or not. I’ve also been known to toss my favorite little blanket in the dryer for a few minutes to get it all toasty warm and then wrap it around me like a superhero cape. Silly, but that total-body-warmth for a few moments feels soooo good at the end of a cold day!

    2. Oh yah, heat pads! We have heated tiles in one of our bathrooms and it’s lovely stepping out of the shower onto warm tiles. Especially since I’m always freezing!

  8. Having just published my first novel, I’ve always been partial to “real” books…but I’ve had a chance to play around with the Kindle quite a bit (and have also sold more than a few Kindle downloads on Amazon), so I have to admit, I’m coming around. I wouldn’t mind having one myself now!

    1. The convenience a Kindle provides is addictive, Mark! But I’ll always love real books too – there’s something about the feeling of turning pages that pushing an arrow button just can’t quite replicate : ).

    2. Shall I add you to the Dear Santa list Gary and I are forming?

  9. […] Jess Witkins offers us Holiday Sanity Survival Kits for Writers. […]

  10. Hi, Pam! Love your ferret pic – we used to have ferrets, and bath time was very memorable. Then after you towel them off and let them loose, they start rubbing themselves on the carpet, and everywhere else! I like your “survival” kit, too. Enjoy the holidays!

    Oh, and hi, Jess! *waves*

    1. Hi Kathy! I know you’re crazy busy with your WIP, blogging, day job, and family too. Hope you get to make and take advantage of your own survival kit!

    2. Rubbing themselves on the carpet and clucking and doing the war dance if you even try to get near them! Sometimes I want to give Vin a bath even when he doesn’t need one because the aftermath is so cute -but I don’t : ). Nice to meet you Kathy!

  11. I’m not completely sure what will be in mine yet but I’m definitely going to construct one for when I go to visit family- it can be so stressful!
    Great post 🙂

    1. Have fun creating your kit! Let us know how you survive! 🙂

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