The holidays are a time to slow down, reconnect, and reflect on all the things you didn’t get done last year for the new resolution list. But is it a time to write? Maybe. But a lot of us struggle to meet additional commitments and still engage with the mental labor of actual, sitting down, typing-the-hours-away writing. So, what can you do instead to keep the creative juices flowing?
Build an Inspiration Box
An inspiration box – or muse box – is a collection of things that make you go, “Oh, I think there’s a story here.” Maybe it’s a pretty feather or a shiny rock. Your inspiration may have old concert tickets, a napkin with a lipstick print, a homemade mixtape CD, or a plaited lock of hair.
Your box doesn’t have to be a box, either. It could be an old jewelry box, a hollow book, an old duffel bag, or even an empty shelf. You just have to find it and declare its new purpose. Then it’s your inspiration box.
Nothing finishes a cozy scene like a good, fat book. You’re curled up in your favorite seat, and hot chocolate, cider, or tea is at hand. Maybe you’ve chosen to indulge in some mulled wine or a hot toddy. A warm blanket covers your knees. Is it homemade? If you have a cat, it’s definitely on your lap.
Most importantly, in your hands is a book. Or an e-reader. Whichever floats your boat. It’s carrying a great story, whispering the saga to you one clever phrase at a time, and as the images bloom in your mind, you fall in love with story-making all over again, the WIP in the back of your mind grows a few new facets, and you go to bed knowing you’ve enjoyed an evening well spent.
Is journaling really writing? Yes and no, but for the sake of this list, we’re saying no. A journal is anything you want it to be. It doesn’t need many words. Some great journals don’t have any. Others feature monster sketches and brief descriptions of their nastiest traits and powers.
Photo journals have remained popular since the invention of the camera. Maybe your journal will be full of pressed flowers, herbs, and pretty bits of ribbon. Maybe the journal belongs to a character, or maybe its just a few pages from the quiet, wordless corners of your mind.
Try a Different Art Form
Change is good. Just like trying a different walking path at the park can lead to wonderful discoveries, so can trying a new kind of art. Instead of writing stories, try taking a few photos that express a full story in a single frame. Do you like to sketch? Try some character art, draw maps, or design a city.
If you’ve been itching to try a handicraft your characters enjoy, this is the perfect time. Use gift cards for craft supplies, sit down to watch the old, family favorite films, and knit yourself into cocoon.
Play with New Projects
Like all writers, you probably have a corral of rowdy plot bunnies trying to break free. Usually, your WIP takes precedence, and you have to lock the poor, fluffy ideas away in lists and notebooks. The holidays are a great time to let the bunnies have their day. No commitments. No deadlines. Just fun and experimentation.
Fill out the empty spaces. Give each project its own notebook if you like. It’s the holidays, after all, and your notebook stash is bound to increase. Add characters, look up mythological comparisons, or write one or two lines of witty banter. Give each project its own Pinterest board so you remember the aesthetics and mood you hope to conjure. Let those bunnies run wild.
This holiday, take time to celebrate and take time to do something different. You don’t have to add a chapter to your WIP, but you can refresh your creative spirit with a side project or adventure. It may be just what you need to start the year right.