Writing E-Tips
Holiday Issue 2005   
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"For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning."

—T. S. Eliot

Remember, Reflect, Write

As the winter holidays draw near, our moods become mellow and our minds reflect on thoughts of the past year. This is a good time to use your writing skills to connect with family and friends and to chronicle the events of the past year.

For example, let’s look at that old chestnut, the annual holiday letter. Sometimes it sounds artificial, like your family had the most perfect, awesome year, with no glitches, no problems—no humanity. You want the letter to honestly reflect your year, but how do you keep your writing from sounding dry and stiff? The answer: Fill your writing with YOU.

Developing your holiday writing voice can be a matter of simply writing from the heart. Make your writing sound warm and real by selecting a few memories that mean the most to you and then reflecting on their importance.

  • Instead of telling about your daughter’s triumph in the school musical, examine what that activity actually taught her. Then write about how she learned to work with others—even those she might not have liked at first—and how the experience made her grow.
  • Instead of telling about your fabulous job promotion, think about why that promotion was important to you. Then write about what you hope to accomplish in the job, and how it is important in your life.
  • Instead of telling about your son’s scholarship to that Ivy League school, consider how hard he worked to get that scholarship. Write about how proud you are of that work, and what he hopes to study and accomplish.

And what if your year wasn’t that great? Your car died, and you can’t afford a new one; your son was held back to repeat seventh grade; you lost your job. What do you write about? Write about what you learned about yourself, your family, your life. Write about the important little moments that make up your reality. Write about your hopes and dreams for next year, and extend your good wishes for others.

Don’t write about a single event, but about how the combined events of the past year enabled you to grow and learn. As you look back at the year and write about it, you will realize the importance of every day—that the hard luck makes you stronger, the good luck makes you grateful, and the simplest, plainest day can be sweet and memorable. Your holiday letter can record your everyday events as you reflect and savor each special moment.

Throughout your year, you change and grow. That’s what makes your life interesting, and that’s what people want to read about. Resolve to keep a journal in the year ahead, chronicling your milestones as they happen. Consider the importance of each, and you will have much to remember, reflect on, and write about in next year's holiday letter. When you write from your heart, the words can’t help but be right.

Happy holidays from all of us at UpWrite Press!

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"Writing E-Tips" is a publication of UpWrite Press, Inc.
P.O. Box 460, Burlington, Wisconsin 53105.
Copyright 2005, UpWrite Press. All rights reserved.