In the upcoming holiday flurry, don’t let your writing languish! To help you keep your brain limber, here’s an Advent calendar of exercises you can do at any time.
1. The holiday season is a time to reflect upon God’s goodness. Describe a time in the past year when you were particularly thankful to God.
2. Holiday time is a stress-filled time. Write an article outline on how to deal with holiday stress. (If you like, query a publisher about it for next year.)
3. What’s your favorite Christmas symbol? Write a poem about it.
4. Which is your favorite holiday: Christmas or Thanksgiving? Write a paragraph about why you choose this holiday.
5. Look up scriptures on thankfulness and write a short devotional.
6. Write a descriptive paragraph about your favorite holiday sight, smell, sound, touch, or taste.
7. Research what kids really think of the holiday season. Do a “kid-on-the-street” interview, asking several children a question or two about the holidays. Compile your answers. (Then submit it to your local newspaper.)
8. Reflect on the Christmas story. Imagine you’re Mary. Choose some event concerning Jesus’ conception or birth and write about that through Mary’s eyes.
9. Write a short church skit about materialism vs. giving.
10. Write a few paragraphs about the best gift you ever received.
11. What’s your favorite store to visit during the holiday season? Drawing on all five senses, write a paragraph that describes that store.
12. What were your holiday traditions as a child? Write a nostalgic essay.
13. List some people you see around the holidays that you may not see at other times. For each, jot some of their personality traits. (Save it for that novel you hope to write.)
14. Write about the Christmas story as if you’re Joseph.
15. Talk to several merchants about what merchandise moves well before Christmas, and what they have to do to prepare for the season. Compile your answers (another good piece to send to a newspaper).
16. Write your own non-material wish list for what you’d like this Christmas or in the coming year.
17. Read the Christmas story from Matthew or Luke. Choose a portion and write all the verbs. Next, note the adjectives. If you want, record the nouns, too. Now consider the overall picture. What kind of verbs are used? What kind of adjectives? What overall feeling do these words give you about the occasion?
18. Take another look at the Christmas story. Write a plot summary, as if you were writing a film script or play. List the characters. What’s their order of importance? What are the settings?
19. Look at yesterday’s character list. To whom in the Christmas story do you most relate? Why?
20. Put yourself in the shoes of a minor Christmas character. Write a few paragraphs of dramatic monologue that speak about Christmas from that character’s perspective.
21. Talk to one or two of the oldest people you know about Christmases that stand out in their memory. Write a few paragraphs about their experiences.
22. What primary emotions do you experience during the holiday season? Expectation? Fear? Dread? Eagerness? Take a minute to evaluate, then write what’s on the inside.
23. Write a poem to God, expressing your thankfulness for the gift of His Son.
24. Write a letter to Jesus, telling Him about the way He’s changed your life.
Guild mentor Jeanette Gardner Littleton writes and edits full-time from her home near Kansas City. She began creating writing exercises when she started working with a writers group in 1989.