Write on, Wednesday: Being Inspired thru the Holidays

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By Leslie LindsayWrite On, Wednesday:  Creating a World So Believable Your Critique Partners Think You're Having an Affair

I find that my writing time and inspiration is starting to diminish as I get more involved with the holidays.  I bet I not alone.  While my time may be limited and my talents used in other arenas (I’m  a mean gift wrapper, decorator, etc.), I am still finding time to be inspired for when I do have the time to sit down and pound out that novel. 

Here’s what I mean:

  • Can’t afford everything in those Pottery Barn catalogs that clog your mailbox?  No problem.  Clip the things you like best and use them for worldbuilding your next (or current) project.  Likewise for the Hammacher Schlemmer catalogs…so you don’t really need an ultra-sonic foot massager?  Maybe your protagonist does. 
  • Add some savory details to your work-in-progress by using descriptions from common household spices.  “Her coat was the color of crushed red pepper/ground cinnamon.” …The cold creamy spice of a glass of eggnog…how about describing the taste of those German potato pancakes? 
  • Likewise, you can tap into your natural environment:  What does it smell like when you stop at a roadside tree lot?  Take a jaunt to the Wisconsin/Michigan/Minnesota woods to chop down your Christmas tree?  Can you use that in your work?  How about describing the stench and impatience of sweaty bodies in a crowded post office? 
  • Evesdrop on anyone and everyone.  At the grocery store check-out line, at the bank, at the mall.   You will be amazed at what you can weave into your novel…here are a few of my recent favorites:  “I can feel my arteries clogging just from smelling all of the butter in this place.”  …. “Do you know that when you cry tears of sorrow, your body actually releases toxins not found in tears of joy or happiness?”…. “You may have some pent-up emotional energy in your neck or shoulders…when you get a massage, you should scream and let it all out…you may feel better emtionally and physically.” 
  • If you read children’s holiday books aloud to your children/students, take notice as to how the author works with words.  Is there a fun rhythm or cadence you can emulate in  your own work?  How does the author show emotion?  Can you borrow one of the character’s names for your own character?  Holiday songs can work in this same manner.  “Oh the weather outside is frightful…” [okay, not a good opening line for a book, but you get the idea]  Books (image source: http://www.scjohnson.com/en/family/family-economics/post.aspx?date=10-11-15&title=Christmas-Book-Collecting)
  • Really strapped for time?  Seems all you can muster at your computer is a glimpse at Facebook or Pinterest?  Keep track of what you like and find.  Today’s idea: crafting a Christmas tree out of a stack of books.  Wrap a few strings of lights around them and bingo-presto!!–a display for your bookstore-owning protagonist, whose store is aptly named after her children, Reid and Paige.  (Yep, that is an idea of mine for a future novel…just haven’t figured out the conflict yet). 
  • Watch those cheesy holiday movies, television specials, and televised events like parades and choirs.  It’s good research if you, say need a wholesome Hallmark moment to depict, or have never been to the St. Olaf Christmas Choir.  Larger view (image source: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2011/03/17/regional-spotlight-st-olaf-choir/)
  • Go see “The Nutcracker” or “A Christmas Carol” on the stage.   How do the characters dress?  Can you recreate something similar in your novel?  The glimmer of her pink organza tutu may show up in your mystery.  You never know.
  • When all else fails, make sure you are reading.  You may not be as voracious as usual, but keep a book with you at all times.  The good writing will park itself into your subconscious, breeding little words for when it is time to sit down at your computer and do some serious writing. 

In the meantime, Write on Wedenesday!

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