Shopping. Cooking. Decorating. Wrapping. Visiting. Hosting. Celebrating. Yikes!

Who has time for writing?

Maybe you can’t hole away for hours at a time with the excitement and commotion at this time of year, but you can use this time to advance your writing. Here are just a few ideas to take you through this holiday season and come out on the other side more prepared, more productive, and more inspired.

Engage family, friends, and colleagues.

Cultivate a core fan base. Your friends, family, and fellow journeymen are the center of your outreach effort. Book promotion is most effective if you begin the moment you start writing a book. Spread the word about your current writing project. Share your excitement about your topic, research, or your writing life. Ask for stories to use in your book or get their perspective on your topic. Ask them to vote on a title or subtitle for your book. Take people on the writing journey with you, and they are more likely to be engaged once you publish. And finally, tell them when your book is due to be published (even if you’re not sure yet). Cast the vision and let others buoy you along the way.

Observe those around you.

Be mindful of their hopes, fears, and motivation. What do they want and need? Listen for universal themes and what holds people back from achieving their goals. Determine if your writing can help people hurdle obstacles or get them working toward something greater. If writing fiction, look for character traits or personality quirks. Listen for interesting situations or places to expand the possibilities for the setting or plot. More generally, take notice of how others approach the holidays or other parts of their lives and how that differs from your own experience. Use different perspectives to expand how you see the world and how you express yourself through your writing.

Pay attention to your mindset.

Be conscious of the joy you get (or don’t get) from each of the activities and how your writing plays a part in your life’s “why.” Maybe you are looking to slow your life down and focus on writing or want to ramp it up and make a real living as a writer. The act of giving and receiving, sharing time with others, and the hustle of the season is a ripe time for re-evaluating what’s most important.

Explore how your family situation motivates you or holds you back from reaching your goals as a writer. Do the people in your life give you subtle or not-so-subtle messages that you are wasting your time or that you should concentrate on more “responsible” ways to make money? Are you getting encouragement from them that you haven’t internalized yet? Acknowledge the situation and step back. Take the opportunity to feel or express confidence as a writer and the path before you.

Capture the moments.

With the multitude of encounters and activities, it’s easy to forget the conversations and observations. You don’t want these moments to slip away. Take pictures at gatherings. Make a voice recording or shoot a quick video to capture a random thought. Use talk to text or type notes in one place on your phone. Use One Note, Evernote, or Notes to write a thought or two for synthesizing later. Don’t think you have time? Grab an extra minute while you’re wrapping gifts, when you are on the road (safety first), or even steal a moment in the bathroom at a party. No kidding!

By the time the glitter settles in the new year, you’ll be ready with a fresh perspective and an army of support. Give your writing new life by taking advantage of the hustle this year.

Here’s to you and yours. I wish you a very HAPPY holiday season.