Christmas in July | 5 Tips to Writing Out of Season

Oh the weather outside is delightful, and campfires are roasting hot dogs and s’mores.

That’s not how the song goes, right?

As authors, we find ourselves writing stories about places and times that are completely out of sync with where our bodies are sitting. Most of the time, we get so drawn into the fictive dream that we don’t even seem to notice that the dog is giving you “the look” and that the cat has knocked your perfectly stacked manuscript to the floor. Again.

But some stories are so dependent upon a seasonal spirit that you need a little outside assistance.

Not exactly a winter wonderland ...

Not exactly a winter wonderland …

I’m currently working on a short story for a Christmas anthology. While the story, characters and conflict are flowing, I’m realizing that it’s lacking that … well, Christmas magic. So how do you channel St. Nick instead of Scrooge when you’re writing poolside?

Here’s some tips that’s helping me. No eggnog necessary.

1. Hark The Herald Angels
This is a pretty easy one, especially since so many authors use music to get into a mood. I’ve said before that I listen to what my characters are listening to, and during the holidays, Christmas carols would be on heavy rotation. So, break out that Charlie Brown Christmas CD, wake up the Little Drummer Boy and have an anything-but-Silent Night.

2. Fake a Little Arctic Blast
I live in Texas. It’s already 1-0-Hell outside. And, it will be that way until October. So how do you recall the feeling of cold, dry air on your skin? Go to the walk-in beer cooler! You can pretend to really study all the various beers while you acclimate yourself. How does it feel to take a deep breath of cold, burning air? Have you traded sweat for goose pimples? Good. Now grab your favorite six-pack to celebrate!

3. Haven’t Seen Elf in Six Months?
So Netflix might judge you a little, but call up some of your favorite holiday movies and immerse yourself in the setting and the feeling rather than the story. How do the Parkers decorate in “A Christmas Story” (I mean, who doesn’t see a Leg Lamp and think of Christmas?!)? Does “It’s a Wonderful Life” give you the content, warm family feeling? Or, do you revel in the silliness of “Elf”? Find what puts you in the mood and break out the DVD or stream it.

4. Remember the Reason for the Season
Whatever is the reason you celebrate the holiday season, before you delve into your holiday story spend a few minutes meditating on the stories and traditions that you and your family practice. Seeing yourself into a spiritual mindset may help you call up a deeper feeling about the holidays.

5. Deck the Halls … Or, at Least Your Writing Cave
If you’re like me, holiday decorations don’t stick around much past January 1 (assuming i-christmas-harder-than-you-memethey make it out of the box to begin with), so this suggestion might be a bit painful for some of you. But, if you’re having a really hard time getting into the spirit, pull out one or two of your favorite decorations. It doesn’t have to be the whole tree or menorah, but maybe that special ornament that makes you think of a particularly fun Christmas, or a dreidel or nutcracker. Or, tap the strongest of senses – scent. Grab that cinnamon candle or a spruce air freshener to smell the season.

See this as an opportunity to observe this harried season through a different lens. Oftentimes we’re so busy hustling from one party to another, or bustling about getting last minute gifts that we don’t get a chance to engage the nuances of the holiday season.

Do you have any tips for getting into a seasonal mindset when writing? How do you channel summer in the dead of winter?

Cheers!
K

About Kimberly Packard

Kimberly Packard is an award-winning author of women’s fiction. She began visiting her spot on the shelves at libraries and bookstores at a young age, gazing between the Os and the Qs. Kimberly received a degree in journalism from the University of North Texas, and has worked in public relations and communications for nearly 20 years. When she isn’t writing, she can be found rollerblading, doing a poor imitation of yoga or curled up with a book. She resides in North Texas with her husband Colby, Oliver the cat and a 75-pound lap dog named Charlie. Her debut novel, Phoenix, was awarded as Best General Fiction of 2013 by the Texas Association of Authors.
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