Writing Through Holiday Business

Sunday, December 07, 2008
Look at how you've been spending your days in December so far. Have you been shopping? Sending cards? Wrapping gifts and attending parties? Most likely yes, you've been preparing for the holiday season. But what about your writing? Have you been writing?

I am realistic, and I know the holidays only come once a year, and there's a lot to be done. But you will not be happy as a writer if you only write 11 out of 12 months each year. Here are a couple writing exercises to go with your holiday spirit and to keep you writing during all the holiday craze.

What does your character want for the holidays?
You are probably busy filling out your wish lists and buying items off lists for your family members. A great writing exercise to get to know your main character better (or even your antagonist better) is to make a Christmas list for her or him. What is your protagonist's top item on her list? Why? What else would she want? This is one of those writing exercises that can be done while you are waiting in line with your holiday purchases, and it will bring you much insight into your character.

Write a letter to Santa.
Take this exercise one step further and write to Santa (whether or not your character even celebrates Christmas.) I've always heard this advice--if you are having trouble finding your character's authentic voice, step outside your novel or short story and write a few journal entries in the character's voice. Writing to Santa is very similar. How would your character start the letter? Would it be full of accusations, greed, hope, desire, or joy? Have fun with it. When is the last time you actually wrote a letter to Santa? Now, you and your character have a chance.

Plan a holiday party at your character's home.
If your main character or even your villain are planning a holiday party, who would they invite and why? What kind of food would they serve? How much money would they spend? You can really delve deep into your character's motivations when she is planning a party.

Remember. . . if you don't have time in December to sit down and write an entire chapter of your novel or a new short story, don't fret. Use one or all of these writing exercises to get to know your characters better. This will make the writing easier once the holidays are over, and you are back in front of your computer!

Happy Writing!
Margo L. Dill
Read These Books and Use Them (blog about children's books)


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