Skip to main content

A Practical Guide to Holiday Creativity

Portly men are tumbling down chimneys, stores abound with merry chaos, and if you still don’t have to go back to work, you might be at home with your relatives—and your writing. How do you make the most of the holidays and go into the new year productive?*

  • No one likes a work-obsessed Scrooge scribbling in a notebook while everyone is watching the Christmas Story marathon on TBS, but writers can’t really avoid writing. Especially during the 100th viewing of A Christmas Story. To overcome any angry relatives, buy a stack of gaudy leftover cards at the dollar store and compose your poems, stories and prewriting inside them. Now, your thank-you card productivity shines.
  • Get lost in all the ornaments on a holiday tree—names, places, shapes, figurines. Is there a way to mold a story based on what you find dangling in those branches?
  • Destroy your inner critic and turn on soap operas and other programs you usually miss (e.g., Judge Judy). Borrow a character from one of the shows, and write a scene based on her daily life outside the program.
  • Whereas a cup of tea or coffee usually does the trick to get you amped up and ready to write, indulge in all the seasonal opportunities around you. Soon, you’ll awaken surrounded by 12 types of cookies, peppermint bark, spiked cider, several cups of hot cocoa, a thermos of gourmet coffee, empty boxes of Godivas, A Christmas Story playing in the background and a herd of curious cats watching you. Brush yourself off, avoid the couch that’s calling your name and channel the electrifying sugar jitters to plow through a chapter of your WIP.
  • Speaking of those cats, as all the humans doze, arrange the felines around the room and perhaps construct on-the-fly costumes for them out of wrapping paper to bring your scenes to life. Observe new character interactions. And how your protagonist suddenly goes gaga for shoelaces.
  • Go to a coffee shop or stand in the Return line at a store and simply listen, jotting down stray quotes. Mash them together, and write a scene based on the voyeur prompt. One of my stolen prompts from today:
    “It doesn’t fit.”
    “Did it ever?”
    “Do they ever?"
    “Look—Valentine’s Day is on its way.”
    “It all just keeps coming.”
  • Get a jump on 2010 and craft a New Year’s Writing Resolution list. More on this Wednesday …
  • Print a few poems and short stories, fold them into boxes (numerous versions can be found via a Google search), and tie small bows on them. Candy within optional. Then, give them to your writing group members at your next meeting.
  • Don’t celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa? Study the various holidays and attempt to write a convincing scene involving one of them. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes and write outside your box (then, make the scene into your own holiday box?).
  • If anything, treat the holidays like any other days, slip away for a bit, and just work on your regular project. It’ll only be a couple of hours, and you may be deemed a Scrooge, but hey, it’s easier than making wrapping paper costumes for cats. And A Christmas Story will still be on when you’re done, right?

*Not everything on this list is entirely serious. Although I am writing it inside a card from the dollar store. And A Christmas Story is on.

(Also, check out the excellent holiday stylings of Martha W. and Mark James in the Comments section of the previous post!)

--

WRITING PROMPT: Resolute
Feel free to take the following prompt home or post your response (500
words or fewer, funny, sad or stirring) in the Comments section below.
By posting, you’ll be automatically entered in our occasional
around-the-office swag drawings.

It’s Dec. 31, and you’re scrambling to make a resolution come true that you made last year. The sun is setting, and it’s time for action.

Your Story Writing Prompts

94 Your Story Writing Prompts

Due to popular demand, we've assembled all the Your Story writing prompts on WritersDigest.com in one post. Click the link to find each prompt, the winners, and more.

How Inspiration and Research Shape a Novel

How Inspiration and Research Shape a Novel

Historical fiction relies on research to help a story’s authenticity—but it can also lead to developments in the story itself. Here, author Lora Davies discusses how inspiration and research helped shape her new novel, The Widow’s Last Secret.

Poetic Forms

Saraband: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the saraband, a septet (or seven-line) form based on a forbidden dance.

Karen Hamilton: On Cause and Effect

Karen Hamilton: On Cause and Effect

International bestselling author Karen Hamilton discusses the “then and now” format of her new domestic thriller, The Ex-Husband.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: The Ultimatum

Plot Twist Story Prompts: The Ultimatum

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have a character give or face an ultimatum.

6 Things Every Writer Should Know About Sylvia Beach and Shakespeare and Company

6 Things Every Writer Should Know About Sylvia Beach and Shakespeare and Company

Sylvia Beach was friend to many writers who wrote what we consider classics today. Here, author Kerri Maher shares six things everyone should know about her and Shakespeare and Company.

How Writers Can Apply Business Tools to Their Writing

How Writers Can Apply Business Tools to Their Writing

Author Katherine Quevedo takes an analytical look at the creative process in hopes to help other writers find writing success.

Nick Petrie: On Following the Most Compelling Story

Nick Petrie: On Following the Most Compelling Story

Award-winning author Nick Petrie discusses how he listened to the story that wanted to be told in his new Peter Ash thriller novel, The Runaway.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 596

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a punishment poem.