All writers have a process that allows them to create. However, the art of "Writing" is often mistaken for that "Process." Hopefully this blog explains the difference, and inspires people to develop their crafts, become writers, or just keep on writing.

Monday, December 19, 2022

A Holiday Writing Prompt

Like most families in my area when I was a child, Christmas was a pretty big thing. We got off of school for a couple of weeks, a good snow came down, the fat guy left us a bunch of presents - the usual events. I could write about any of those memories and tell an enjoyable little story  about the holidays. However, I decided that's not what a good writing exercise is about. An exercise should really try and bring out something along with building those writing muscles.

I did think about suggesting an exercise where the objective is to write about the least holiday-like thing about this holiday season. Perhaps something about the rampant consumerism during a time that's supposed to be about giving and such. There's probably a story about a bad holiday memory floating around somewhere, but let's face it - where's the fun in that? A holiday writing exercise should not be all Grinchy. It needs to stir up the feelings we hold close and dear to our hearts. If you decide to write about your worst Christmas experience, that's your right to do so. I had something different in mind.

As I said earlier, I have plenty of good Christmas memories from my distant childhood, and any one of them could become a story. However, I decided that the more interesting exercise would be to intensify the focus. Instead of writing about that one Christmas where you got the great gift, or when some holiday magic just happened to make everything special, I thought a great exercise would be to write about one item, one moment, one detail from way back when and let it be the center of all my feelings and discussion. The more isolated and detailed, the better. 

What does that all mean? Well, simply put, I know plenty of people who have a real connection to the ritual of setting up the Christmas tree on whatever night happens to be the right one. That might make a good story, but try looking for the emotion in hanging up one particular ornament, or putting the angel/star/light on the top of the tree. Capture one instance, and write about everything that the moment meant. Think of the first moment you connected with the importance of the Hanukkah candles, or felt something special about the holidays. Isolate one moment - an important, valuable holiday event, then write about it. It can be receiving a card from a relative and being moved by the words, or just staring at a candy cane in front of the gingerbread house and feeling something more than wanting to eat it. Try applying that kind of focus - the pleasure of the simple moment - into your writing, and see what happens.

Full disclosure: This is a nice way to write poems. I promised that I wouldn't push poetry on the unwilling, but I am just mentioning that good poems are often meditations upon one shining moment.

On that note, I will leave you to your holiday merriment. I just hope that you give a try at creating something that you find both special and meaningful. I will be doing this exercise and the fruits of my labor will be my Friday post. See you then.

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