Let me first give you my bonus tips.
While I am huge proponent of practice and often quote the famous phrase, If you want to write a book, first write a million words, I do have other tips for you. Their end goal, however, is the same.
As Christmas draws near, our pens should be even more inspired. We are watching our favorite holiday movies, decorating Christmas trees, swaying to the sounds of downtown carolers, and we are also thinking about gifts. Which leads me to my first festive writing tip.
1. Write a story for someone as your gift to them.
Shopping is not meant for everyone, but giving and receiving meaningful gifts is something most people enjoy. One Christmas, when I was daily practicing my craft and wanting people to read my work, I decided to write stories for my best friends and family as gifts. I recreated some of our favorite moments in a very fictional world where we ruled. My loved ones became the heroes and heroines. Not only did I receive hours of practice, but my best friends loved reading about themselves on the page. And the best part? We talk about and reread that story. Try it. It doesn’t have to be long. Most of my stories were around five pages. You’d be surprised where they lead. Many of my shorts grew into much more.
2. Get a holiday drink in some cafe and eavesdrop.
Yes. You heard me right. Eavesdrop. Sit down and observe people. Find an interesting character or two. Catch a phrase of their conversation, (not their entire saga), and take notes on everything you can. They way they sip on their drink, their accent, their clothes. Then use it as a writing prompt.
This exercise is fun and useful. It inspires us to think about real people’s mannerisms, conversation, and settings, and then turn it into fiction. I once observed a married couple who were complete opposites. The man was dressed for a Caribbean summer; she was ready for winter in Aspen. She was rigid. He was relaxed. She proper. He was cool and calm. I wrote an entire story after observing these two simply to answer my question, how in the world did these two end up together, and are they what they seem? Great practice.
3. Recreate a shortened version of your favorite Christmas story in another time or genre.
Those who know me are well acquainted with my Christmas writing challenges. It always goes something like this: Give me the best Christmas story in five pages or less (with one theme squished in the middle). How did this start? Because at first, I didn’t want to write about Christmas. I didn’t want the restriction of a theme. But I chose to squeeze myself into a box and it required me to think harder about how to write myself out of it.
Writing within a certain parameter, (setting, genre, or theme) forces us to write something we’re not used to writing, and therefore grow as an author. Remember, it’s just practice. It’s also meant to be fun.
This year the challenge to all my writer friends is centered around the prompt “Get me home for Christmas” in five pages or less. You could be Mark Watney stuck on Mars, or you could be stuck in a snow storm across town. Wherever, get me home in a creative way. Feel free to join us or use it as a prompt.
Write it. Share it with your friends. Share it with us. We’d love to read it and give you a simple review. Email your story to firstname.lastname@example.org . Or paste the “hook” in the comments for all to read.
Happy Holidays and Happy Writing.
Nova signing off!