A Little Christmas Gift of Free-Range Writing

Christmas is a brilliant source of material for every kind of writing, and writing is a brilliant way of taking some much-needed you-time when things feel hectic or emotional. So, this year, why not treat yourself to a few delicious writing breaks with these Christmas themed free-range writing forays?

Just write whatever comes and stick to the time limits – that will help you not to feel intimidated by the blank page, or worry prematurely about writing well. Personal writing and first drafts are not supposed to be good. As Hemingway famously said, the first draft of anything is sh*t. That is a true and liberating thought!

Memoir: Your Christmas album

How did your family celebrate Christmas when you were a small child? Think back as far as you can remember, to your earliest Christmas memories, and scan forward through the rest of your childhood. Imagine these memories as snapshot moments.

Snap! This is me, age four or five, sitting on Santa’s knee, beside the tree in our front room.

Snap! Me finding my brand new bike propped up in the hall, with tinsel wrapped round the handlebars, age about eight.

Snap! We’re tearing up the bread because we’re trying to spread it with butter straight from the fridge, making turkey sandwiches for Christmas tea. Age about thirteen.

Carry on through your adult years, right up to the present day. Take a maximum of five minutes for this initial pondering.

Which of these snapshots would you like to put in your Christmas album? Choose three. Look more closely at these pictures in your mind. Who else is in them? What is in the background?

Write for five minutes about each one, simply describing what you see. Finish each of these little word sketches off with a title and date.

Non-fiction: A Christmas recipe

This isn’t a recipe for Christmas pudding or angels on horseback or whatever – that would be too easy!

Use the recipe format to write a recipe for a great family Christmas, or a satisfying Christmas on your own, or whatever you feel you know a bit about. Or flip it for humour – a recipe for Christmas in Casualty or a festive family fall-out.

Start with a brief description of the dish.

Add the ingredients – ‘You will need: 1. An unripe avocado. 2. A well sharpened paring knife…’

Describe the method – ‘Seat your right wing cousin beside your paid up member of the Labour Party mother. Next, add a comment about the current state of the country…’

Round it off with a concluding comment. Take twenty minutes.

Fiction: A Christmas miracle

Someone is feeling lonely at Christmas. Who? Write some character notes, including their age, name, appearance. Where are they spending Christmas? Who else is around? (You can feel lonely in a group)

Something happens that brings them a sense of connection.

Write the scene – the event that moves them from the yearning of loneliness to the reassurance of connection.

Twenty minutes.

Poetry: Happy Christmas!

Write a rhyming Christmas card greeting to someone you love. What do you wish for them? Make it as cheesy as you like!

Write another one for someone you don’t like at all. It needn’t be a personal acquaintance – I can think of a few public figures I do not admire. What do you wish for them? Use your poetic art to transform your baser instincts, which may not be polite, and make it a positive wish.

Take twenty minutes in total. If you have time left over after two, write some more. Notice and enjoy the positive wishes you have for your family, neighbours and friends.

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