Guest Author - Glenda Schoonmaker
When it's holiday season, the last thing you think about is writing. Well, maybe you wistfully think about it, but there's just no time. There are many holidays within a few short months from October through February. Time to get everything done starts seeming elusive. If it's Christmas time, you are too busy wrapping presents (assuming they are already made or purchased), going to holiday parties, planning for how you are going to appease Aunt Edna again this year so she won't rant and rave about the dumb way you wear your hair, or why you're not married yet, or "When are you ever going to get a real job?" Oh, don't get me started, or I'll never shut up about all the trials, tribulations, and joy that holidays bring.
See what happened? During holidays emotions are like a cauldron of detail and enthusiasm for stories to share. It doesn't have to be stories of your dreaded encounters with Aunt Edna--unless you are writing about improving personal relationships or communication skills. Think about the beaming faces of the children you saw when you delivered toys for families who couldn't afford any, or the compassion in the eyes of the homeless at the soup kitchen you worked at, or even the exhilaration you felt when listening to Handel's chorus. Now, is the time to get all that on paper or computer or Dragon Naturally Speak software if you don't like to type.
Now, I didn't say holiday time is the best time to "submit" that holiday story. Usually, it's not. Unfortunately, the print world of publishing (but less so in the electronic world of publishing) usually requires holiday manuscripts six, nine, and sometimes twelve months ahead of publication. Even the type of holiday schedule varies because some holidays receive more submissions than others. Checking with individual publications for writers' guidelines or by checking in various places such as Writers Market, Christian Writers Market, or Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market will tell you how far in advance of a holiday you need to submit your piece. If you are interested in publishing on-line, you may be fortunate to find that some electronic publishing only requires as little as two weeks to one month lead time for holiday writing.
So, why is holiday time the best time to write if you can't submit? How many times have you wanted to write a winter holiday story at springtime (assuming you live in the northern hemisphere) when daffodils are peeping out and trees and yards are budding with green smells leading you to want to do nothing but run barefoot in the grass? Sure, you can write the winter story; it's done all the time. However, it often takes more effort to stretch, pull, and tug those brain cells to recall vividly the feel, the aromas, and the reactions from that time gone past to make the piece viable.
When you are in the midst of an event, that's the best time to get those thoughts recorded for later use. We're not talking about writing with fluency or to target any particular publication necessarily but just to get those ideas and dialog into scribbles somewhere so that the impact won't be lost. No matter how much we tell ourselves "Oh, I'll remember everything in detail" it just doesn't happen.
A few months later when publications are seeking those holiday pieces, you can pull your notes out of your files then filter and edit them to a specifically targeted publication. Plus, you've given those scribbled notes time to cool so that you will more easily know which details are good and which ones to trash. Also, pouring through your meanderings from when you put them down in the height of emotion will help bring back the exuberance you had for the topic at that time, yet you'll be able to ferret out the junk to heighten the focus in the writing.
You don't have time to scribble something down? I think you'd be surprised how quickly you can jot out your thoughts. You aren't being neat; you aren't being coherent for anyone else to read; you can write on the back of a napkin. These notes are yours, and they are priceless. They capture the essence of a moment that may vaporize if they aren't seized when fresh.
When it's back to everyday humdrum, that holiday writing piece may allude you forever--oh, no, it won't. You've already jotted your thoughts. Go check your files.