The Twelve Days Of Writing Elves

“Never allow yourself to become one of those people who, when they are old, tell you how they missed their chance.”
Author, Claire Ortega

 By: Stacey Purcell

 Merry Christmas to all of our Muse Track readers! It’s hard to believe another year has come and gone so quickly.

I believe that, besides getting older, we fill our days so full, there’s hardly room to breathe. The Christmas season is a microcosm of that idea. We pack three months of activities into one and we expect to be merry and productive on top of that. Wow! That is a tough road- especially if you are the creative sort.

I have a confession to make.

I am not able to write on command. I don’t seem to have mastered the idea that you simply have to be disciplined everyday and the words will come. I understand the principle, try to employ it, but if the creative juice is not there- then it just isn’t there.

This month with all the parties, family flying in and out, shopping, cooking, cleaning etc., I’m finding it especially hard to get words down on paper. So what do I do? If my novel set in Costa Rica with lost treasure, drug cartels, small portable nuclear arms and wild romance won’t flow from my fingertips, I go back to my Twelve Days of Writing Elves to keep the creativity from getting rusty. (Those Elves have gotten me through many holidays and back on track.)

  1. Elf 1 says- Find a holiday writing prompt and write a scene about 500 words. I borrowed this one from Writer’s Digest: Christmas Ghost
    While hanging up your Christmas lights, you are flagged down by a neighborhood kid who offers to help. As he helps you, he tells you about the Christmas ghost that haunts his house. What’s odd is that you’ve noticed the same things happening around your house. Write this scene.
  2. Elf 2 says- What is your voice? Do you like to write in short staccato sentences or are you more flowing? Are you spontaneous? Or more methodical? Our voice is ultimately what comes out of us. Do you have a writer that you really admire? Do you like their voice? Take a few pages from your book and try to re-write it using their voice, their style. You might be surprised at what comes from this exercise.
  3. Elf 3 says- Take an emotion that is commonly written about- let’s say “gut wrenching”. Now dig deeper and create a list of different, deeper, ways of making this emotion tangible. (Thank you Donald Maas for this one.) Take a trip out of the surface emotions into unchartered waters. Your writing will be better!
  4. Elf 4 says- Create 5 new titles for your current WIP. What elements will you choose to highlight? How does it “color” your book differently?
  5. Elf 5 says- Write the top ten things that must happen in your book before you put in the final period. Even if you are a pantster like me, you should be able to make this list. Use it as a road map or a check off list. (Thank you Will Graham for this brilliant idea.)
  6. Elf 6 says- Read two chapters out of a new craft book. Write down 3 things you just learned. Post it by your computer, and try using those items the next time you write on your WIP.
  7. Elf 7 says- Get your writing buddies on board and do a page swap. No editing, no rewriting to prepare it for others to read. Just swap the last page you all wrote for FUN- only for FUN!!
  8. Elf 8 says- Take an experience your character will have and try to experience it yourself. If they are eating oatcakes from a medieval feast, then prepare some yourself. If they are in a rain forest, try going into a steam room fully clothed and do some kind of activity. If they are going to shoot a gun, go to a firing range and try it out. Use all of your senses!
  9. Elf 9 says- Use the timer that was given in Link of The Week (Tuesday) and do a 5 minute brain storming session on finding a $1000 poker chip from the 1960s behind a loose board in a boarding house you just bought to remodel into a B and B. (Again- thanks Will Graham.)
  10. Elf 10 says- Take 5 chapters and search for comfort words. Start off with “just” and “that”. You can highlight all of them with the push of a button and try eliminating as many as possible. Easy way to improve your chapters!
  11. Elf 11 says- Read a book. That’s it- just read a good book.
  12. Elf 12 says- Press the power button on your computer, scoot your chair away from your desk and walk out of the room. Never, never forget this is a time for celebrating family and friends. Enjoy them. Revel in your time together. Find peace and contentment in this season. The book will still be there next week.

May your Christmas be happy, healthy, and full of wonder. Merry Christmas!

12 Responses to The Twelve Days Of Writing Elves

  1. jbrayweber says:

    Great exercises and reminders, Stacey! But you forgot Elf 13. He says open a bottle of bubbly and enjoy what you’ve accomplished! LOL!.

    Merry Christmas!

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  2. I also forgot to wish you a BIG Happy Happy Birthday. Sorry that I didn’t get home from Fiona’s until late last night. Big hugs and smoochies to you!!!!!

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  3. Great blog, Stacey. I love those elves.Elfie #11 and I are well acquainted at this time of year. Like you I can’t seem to come up with NEW words with all there is to do, but I love curling up with a good book and relaxing to de-stress.

    Thanks for sharing. Merry Christmas!

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  4. If I can help folks do at least 1 or 2 of these ideas- then I feel like an elf myself! Have a wonderful Christmas. Looking forward to all good things in 2012.

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  5. May have to go home and try a few of these. I ordered a few new books, so I can do some reading before the end of the year. The rest, I will work on. Thanks for the reminder. Lots to clean up in the WIP after the flurry of NaNo. Have a Merry Christmas Stacey.

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  6. This is a great time to work on cleaning up the WIP because you can break it into small chunks. Try just looking for those “comfort” words! Merry Christmas, Melanie.

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  7. jeff7salter says:

    Several great suggestions here, Stacey. Thanks for sharing them. Especially # 3 & 4.
    Merry Christmas!

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  8. Thanks, Jeff- glad you liked the article! I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas with homemade hot chocolate. 🙂

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  9. I’m digging all your elves suggestions but especially number 8. What better way to get in the exericise I need this time of year than to do it as my heroine as she slaves away on the treadmill with that hot guy checking her out. Now to let my hubby know he’ll be playing the part of the hot guy! Happy Holidays Musetrackers!

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  10. Heh heh heh- now you’re in the spirit….we must really research our characters and what they’re doing using all of our senses!!! It’s for the book….no really……well….

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  11. What a great post. Sometimes I get so stuck in my “discipline” I forget to have fun and do things like this. Thanks for the reminder. what a nice Christmas present. Thanks.

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  12. You are most welcome!! Enjoy this special time of the year. Peace.

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