Monday, December 27, 2010
12 Days of Christmas is Like Writing--Sort Of
Our family also did the 12 days before Christmas for a couple of families in our neighborhood. It started out fun. My oldest son home (2 oldest kids, a girl and a boy, are on missions) got busy and made some goodies. The kids were so excited about leaving a small gift, ringing the doorbell and then hiding. By the time we got to about day seven, the novelty had worn off and we were begging (read-threatening) the kids to do the task. We also had run out of gift ideas, and had to get pretty creative. My oldest son home loves to bake, but sometimes he planned to make something but never did, leaving us without a gift to leave. My husband pitch-hit for me one night, while I was at a dinner party. He bought root beer and ice cream and left them on our friends' doors. The whole thing was fun, but more stressful than it ought to have been.
We learned some lessons from the experience, though. Mostly, we learned the importance of planning ahead. When we had done the 12 days years ago, we planned the whole thing out, even purchased all the gifts up front and wrote clever poems for each day, so that we knew exactly what we were giving on what days. We also went as a whole family (9 of us) to deliver the gifts, rather than relying on 2 or 3 swift-footed children. Probably the likelihood of getting caught was higher, but we all got in on the fun.
What does this have to do with writing? Believe it or not, I can see some parallels. Planning ahead in writing would include things like outlining and setting a time to write. Outlining a novel is like purchasing all 12 gifts ahead of time and knowing what gift to give on what days. Setting aside time is like deciding who will ring the doorbell each night, and making sure you go before it gets too late (one night we cut it pretty close at just after 10). Without a good plan, time gets wasted and the task becomes more stressful than it needs to be.
The good news is that our friends had no idea how much effort and stress went into leaving a gift on their door each night. They loved the nightly surprises and it made their Christmas that much merrier. I think the same can be said about a completed novel. Your readers will have no idea how much time and stress went into creating the book, but it will bring them joy and make their lives more meaningful for having read it.