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  • stevenmitchell

Christmas creativity

Everyone has a Christmas story to tell, whether it’s funny or sad, or something your family has vowed never to mention again. And there are countless (perhaps too many?) books, TV programmes and films featuring Christmas. So, why not get inspired by the Christmas season and write something Christmassy of your own? People mostly want cosy, heart-warming tales to get them in the Christmas spirit, but don’t let that stop you writing We Wish You a Bloody Xmas or Santa’s Slaughterfest because you can write about Christmas in any genre. For example, crime (someone’s stolen the Christmas cake!), romance (a couple fall in love at a Christmas Cake making masterclass), and, of course, horror (a Christmas cake made of people’s sawn-off faces). Christmas is a bizarre time already, so you can be as imaginative as you like, there are no restrictions. Have fun!

There are plenty of places where you can find inspiration at Christmas. The best Christmas film ever is Elf starring Will Ferrell as Buddy the Elf. If you disagree, unfortunately, you’re most definitely wrong. I’ve been willing to fight friends and relatives over this, which nicely demonstrates that Christmas is a time of powerful emotions—and writers should take note. Christmas is a perfect opportunity to study human nature. As family and friends gather into a single, compact home, notice the fights, the laughter, the joy, the tears. Notice the things that aren’t said but given away by subtle glances or changes in posture. See how alcohol breaks down barriers. Notice the chaos of children unwrapping presents, and the peace of the post-dinner slump. These little details, these insights into human nature, will find use in your writing.

Yes, it’s mostly dark and cold outside, but put on your warm coat and bobble hat and the Christmas period is a great time to explore the outside. There are no flowers, or leaves on the trees, but bark’s nice, right? So much bark! Take a good look at the bark, the patterns, it’s gnarled, rough textures. Stroke it. Lovely bark. And you can kick rotting leaves, and slide in mud, and feel the freezing rain on your face making you feel alive (but maybe not for much longer unless you get inside and dry off). But that aside, you can observe winter and use it in your writing to great effect, whether for setting the bleak scene for your dystopian drama or frozen wasteland fantasy.

If you have children in the house at Christmas time, it can be a great workout for your creative muscles. Have fun making up any old nonsense, and they’ll love it. Tell the kids about the time when Father Christmas came down the chimney and burnt his bottom, or more excitingly how Rudolph ate too many carrots and was sick down someone’s chimney and then Santa had to go down the chimney and he was covered in carrot sick and that made him feel sick and he threw up mince pies and brandy all over someone’s Christmas tree and then their cat licked Santa's vomit and so on and so on. And while making the children laugh/confusing their tiny minds, something might capture your imagination and find its way into your work.

‘The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear,’ said Buddy the Elf in the best Christmas film of all time. We’re assaulted in the shops by Christmas music from September and that must be because all of us appreciate Christmas music most of the year round. So if you’re musically inspired by the Christmas hits, why not put your wordsmithing to good use by writing the next great Christmas sing-a-long? The song can be about anything, really. Just slot the word Christmas in there somewhere. Or don’t even bother with the word Christmas and just refer to cold things. Well known ‘Christmas’ songs like Jingle Bells and Let it Snow have zero reference to Christmas in the lyrics.

People also love a bit of poetry at Christmas, especially if it rhymes, and is funny or sickeningly heart-warming. Why not write one on scraps of discarded wrapping paper after a few sherries (a tried and tested way of finding inspiration) and then read it out at the end of the day. People will love it. Excellent subjects for poetry include Christmas puddings, reindeers, and turkeys.

Anyway, I hope you find some sort of inspiration for your writing this coming holiday season. I wish you a creative Christmas and an imaginative new year.

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