In October, I was already writing things in my December. I panicked at the pace of ‘Save the Date!’ invites. Our own holiday family traditions still needed to land somewhere, too.
If you’re like me, I don’t expect to do a lot of writing in December (especially if we’ve just NaNoWriMo’d.) However, when I overbook December, I seem to pay a price in January. My creative energy has a hard time ramping up; it takes several weeks to shake off December. This month’s frenzy has a long reach and can steal our creative life in the new year. Here’s something that helps me tame December, basically through the tough love of cushion building:
December has 14 days (Fri-Sun) which are “open,” plus one or two weekdays/nights. I spy 20 open days! (I swear I heard you gasp. Or maybe that was me.) I can only manage one activity a day because I am not hardy enough for more. Since there’s no way I’ll do 20 activities, I slash 8 of those days, leaving only around 12 days open. The 8 days are my cushion. They’re not written anywhere yet; they’re merely off the table, and will become ‘blackout dates’ on my calendar to use as my mood sees fit, like stay-home-and-catch-our-breath days.
I then start a messy informal list with 12 empty spots, (you hardy ones can add more) in which I write:
activities I’ve been invited to already…that I enjoy,
invites I know are coming…that I’ll enjoy,
an enticing invite that could come out of nowhere but hasn’t appeared yet,
activities we traditionally do with our own family or close friends.
You’ll be surprised at how fast that list fills up. It may frighten you. The reality will stare you in the face, much like thinking you have $500 in your account but your checkbook shows $12. Nothing stops the over-spending like the shock of $12. Choose well.
This isn’t perfect science, but the whole point is to keep us from speeding into a hasty yes, so we can make thoughtful, realistic commitments. It turns down the volume on December so we can walk a bit more calmly into January. All those creative things have waited patiently for us and we’ll be in a tranquil mindset to find them.