No matter what the calendar says, you can always find pertinent and timely
topics to fit every season. The key is timing. Keep in mind that most
markets work at least three months in advance and as many as eight. So
while you are querying in January, you have to be pitching topics for late
summer parties or back to school bashes. Likewise, while you’re lolling
by a pool under a blazing July sun you should be scribbling about winter
family fun and the holidays.
How do you keep the memories fresh when you are always working so far
ahead of the actual season? By keeping an idea journal or notebook. Jot
down exactly what you said when the tree tipped over and scattered broken
ornaments all over your freshly decorated living room. Or how the
succulent steaks and fresh corn-on-the-cob tasted at a summer barbecue.
Remember how cold and wet you were at the season opener, but how all was
forgotten when you caught that twenty-pound fish? Record all the gorgeous
colors you see on an autumn drive. Then when you are ready to pitch your
idea or submit, you will have specific details to add the perfect
Another excellent way to capture the spirit of the season is to actually
write the piece, then polish and submit it for the following year. You
will be surprised how quickly it rolls around again. It will be like
finding an unexpected gift to yourself when you rediscover your seasonal
piece, already written.
Family get-togethers can be an excellent source for new topics. Take
oh-so-hectic holiday memories and turn them into lucrative pieces. During the holidays, there are more things to do, crammed into fewer
daylight hours. Writing is sometimes the furthest thing from our minds. Yet now is the ideal time to cash in on the holiday craze. Editors at all
your favorite markets are busier, too. If you send in a pertinent, timely
submission they are likely to snap it up.
Timely means it may already be too late for the national magazines. However,
you can capitalize by sending to newsletters, smaller markets, or familiar
places with quick turnaround times.
Fewer writers submit during the hectic holiday season, so you will have a
better than average chance of an acceptance. Also, you can use all those
“priceless” moments. Like when Uncle Joe broke up the party with his
resounding belch or the dog lifted his leg against the freshly decorated
Turn your disastrous, humorous or heartwarming moments into an article,
story, or essay for some quick holiday cash. “Ten ways to Keep Kitty off
the Tree” comes to mind, since we have two frisky felines.
Another reason to keep writing as much as possible is the coming new year.
Savvy submitters are already querying and jockeying for assignments in
2005. You don’t want to get left out in the cold.
You might have more time once the hoopla dies down. Children usually have
holiday break through New Year’s Day and if you have extra time as well,
don‘t let it go to “waist.” Instead of second helpings, help yourself to
some writing time and keep submitting. Or you can finish that big project
you started last summer.
Remember that it may take a bit longer than usual for editors to get back
to you during the eventful holidays. Some may even take their own holiday
break. Use the time to craft more stories. The more you write, the more
ideas you will uncover.
An article about holiday decorating with your kids could lead to a
short story or an essay about the importance of traditions. Write about
your madcap race through the mall, searching for the final few gifts on
Seize the moments of insanity the way only writers can—transform them
into publishable prose. Just keep reminding yourself, that the holidays,
like every season, only happen once a year!
Privratsky is thrilled to announce her new book, "Pump Up Your Prose"
debuting November 15. Details and FREE sign up to The Writer Within
out The Discount Diva while you're there.