The December Writing Struggle

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Me, with a torn leg tendon. Gotta tough it out. Or not.

You have heard that people are creatures of habit.

I knew people who used to have a cigarette and a cup of coffee at certain intervals throughout the day. It was a habit. Get to work, pour a cup of coffee. Finished lunch, have a cigarette.

I had habits like that too. Not smoking, but running.

Every time I would go in the workout room and start lifting weights and doing my thing, the closer it came time to get on the treadmill, the more good ideas I got for my story.

In fact, sometimes I would sit down and bang out a whole chapter rather than run.

(Running is not something I enjoy doing, it’s something I enjoy having done.)

That tree doesn’t put itself up!

Now, I mention this because everybody’s schedule gets really out of whack during the holidays. Friends come in from out of town, or relatives; you’re going out and buying presents and decorating. Writing time will be traded for shopping time, or Christmas party time.

Don’t worry about it.

It’s December, very little gets done in December as far as writing goes.

Just realize that any progress is progress. You’ll find out in January your routine kind of goes back to what it was and you’ll be all set to be a productive writer again.

Unless you don’t, in which case you’re fucked, but these distractions affect all aspects of writing. Editing, marketing decisions, you name it. I have a lot more distractions this year. My daughter is about to have two or three weeks off school! That hasn’t happened for a while. Don’t expect much to get done during that!

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My little cutie in a moment of non-destructiveness. Actually, that’s not true. A second before she pulled my chin stubble, which is why I’m holding her hand here. (Her fingers are pinched between my thumb and knuckles.)

Worse than that, as some of you are aware, I tore a tendon in my leg. It’s a little tiny baby tendon (longinus plantarus) and you only have to stay off it for a couple days and then you pretty much good as new—but as a runner, I had to bench myself for a few weeks!

Which, as I just explained, running—or the threat of getting on the treadmill—was where some of my best ideas came from.

Not having to worry about getting on the treadmill has caused me to not have as much writing creatively as I would normally have.

Plus it’s December and I have all distractions every else has with relatives coming in from out of town and going to parties.

And chocolate. There’s lots more chocolate around her and Christmas. I don’t mind that particular distraction.

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No, I don’t dye my hair. (Who’d make their hair that color on purpose?)

Anyway, rest assured of this one thing: It’s all going to get back in order in January sometime.


So, do what you can for the rest of December, and make a note for yourself next year that this is just how it works. Don’t get down on yourself.


Unless you get to January 15th and you’re still not writing. Then, yeah, put a foot in your own behind.


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Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious upcoming novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure.” Click HERE to check out his other works.