A Practical Guide to Holiday Creativity

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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!)


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.