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  • Writer's pictureStefanie Barnfather

Happy Holiday

In one week -- ONE WEEK -- it's Canadian Thanksgiving. With four days of vacation, two dinners to host and one pug to keep away from turkey trimmings, this holiday will definitely prevent me from writing. You may think this is a bad thing, but I'm here to blow your mind, kids. It isn't.

BOOM! Profound revelation! Totally new information! Nobody has said taking time away from work to celebrate a joyous occasion is good for you, not ever, not once! I'm a creative genius that realizes realities no other human could conclude, conceptualize or come up with!

I know my sarcastic commentary is delightful, but the idea that removing yourself from work and engaging in a pleasurable activity to increase your productivity is new for some people. But, let's pretend you fall into the category of creatives who know how helpful time away from your WIP can be. Let's pretend you've heard this a thousand times, and are rapidly getting bored with my attempt at originality. Why should you listen to me repeat the same mantra the pros have been saying for eons? Because you might not know that celebrating -- holidays, specifically -- can boost your creativity in unexpected ways.

Hooked? Yeah, you are. Like a fish. An especially floppy fish.

This week's blog breaks down the benefits of joining in communal camaraderie -- aside from the food, singing, dressing up and terrific TV specials. Happy Thanksgiving, team.


The benefits of relaxation are threefold.

1. A calm central nervous system, which helps you make better decisions (or create // problem solve).

2. Improved mood, which increases self esteem. I don't think I need to expand on why liking yourself is important in our industry.

3. An open heart, which makes you more receptive to the nuances in our world that are essential in good storytelling (ie. for physical descriptions, or when you're trying to land an authentically emotional moment).

I lied. It's fourfold.

4. Deep sleep, which "strengthens the areas of your brain responsible for memory, learning, attention and self-awareness". Memory, learning, attention and self-awareness is the skeleton structure of writers.

Thanksgiving As An Example

  • Extra vacation days? You've got time for a looooong nap.

  • Feeling lonely? A bunch of enthusiastic people are available to hang with and yell at.

  • Practicing gratitude? This is the perfect holiday to think about all the wonderful things in life -- the sun rises every day, you possess a conscious mind and Stefanie Barnfather writes a weekly blog that's fucking amazing.

  • Distracted by football, cozy fires and a heck-of-a-lot of baking? Excellent. Watch that game. Warm those hands by the cookout. Scarf down those tartlets. Using your senses to engage in joyous activities quiets incessant writing chatter and allows objectivity to step in. Very calming.


You might be an analytical type that doesn't get why food, drink and noisy social interaction could possibly aid in the groundbreaking creative work you're managing. I hate to tell you this, but those people you avoid -- and the celebrations you find unnecessary -- are the same people who *gasp* buy your books and *gasp* talk about them around the dinner table. The staunchest academic enjoys time away from their tomes. The most rigorous scientist appreciates the awesomeness of consuming turkey-leg tryptophan. High-powered CEOs have stuffing delivered to their offices when they're working through the weekend. If these types -- the ones you market your books to -- engage in holiday fun times, it could be helpful for you to do the same. Think of it as research, so you better understand your audience and what makes them tick.

Thanksgiving As An Example

Ask yourself these questions as the weekend rolls out, then sit back and observe:

  • Who enjoys food-related celebrations, who avoids them and why?

  • What are the culturally-specific activities people engage in during Thanksgiving that changes the way you experience your own?

  • Where do people spend time when they eat, when they talk, when they rest, and when they play?

  • When do heightened moments of tension occur, and what could be their catalysts?

  • Why do people give so much importance to coming together in "perfect" or "imperfect" ways?

  • How do individuals and families pull off the creation and implementation of these large and/or small-scale events?

If you find the answers to these questions you can use a lot of them in your writing. Humans connect with each other for a variety of reasons, and embedding common interests in your stories gives readers something they can relate to. Which is important.


When I'm working long and hard (and hard and long) I often neglect important self care activities that significantly impact my ability to do my job. Stepping away from the grind to enjoy a holiday gives me the opportunity to check in with my needs, and set fresh intentions for a fresh week (aka month, year, decade).

Thanksgiving As An Example

  • You get to eat food and consume liquids. That is important. Do it more often.

  • If you're hosting, you might need to clean your house. Thanksgiving is the perfect time to scrub the toilets. And rake the leaves. And patch the hole in your roof.

  • Holidays are expensive. Do you have enough money in the old bank account to float you through the weekend? Hey, maybe while you're checking that out you can take a peek at your other financials. Did you remember to pay off your credit card this month? And set aside cash for little Amy's college tuition?

  • Thanksgiving tests your physical state -- grumbly turkey tummy, Pinot Noir heartburn, a sore back from carrying your passed out fifteen-yr-old to bed, and a tight jaw after laughing too hard might be an indication you've been neglecting your body. After Thanksgiving's over, maybe get back to that yoga practice.

  • Thinking about something other than your WIP (like how to prevent Aunt Joan from bringing up "that thing that happened twenty years ago") helps create distance from your work. Again, this is important.

Thanks for reading this week! I appreciate all of you and hope you find my tips encouraging. If you aren't celebrating Thanksgiving right now, this information can be applied to any holiday. Yom Kippur begins tomorrow -- replace Turkey with abstinence.

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