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May 6, 2001
Season's Greetings: Making the Most of Those Treasured Holiday Moments, Six Months in Advance!

The author of FREEDOM TO FREELANCE reveals how your holiday material can earn you extra bucks for the holidays-as long as you're organized!

By Rusty Fischer

Ah, the holidays. Whether it's mistletoe or jack-o'-lanterns, Easter eggs or fireworks, holiday memories, crafts, ideas, recipes and how-to articles are a staple of most periodicals', newspapers', Web sites', publishers' and book packagers' yearly word count. But how do you cash in on this underrated source of extra writing income? Simple:

Plan Ahead

First of all, a warning: Don't expect to get rich writing for the holidays. Not right away, anyway. While Charles Dickens and Washington Irving are well-known for their holiday works, it might take you awhile to get the hang of each and every potential market's picky style and tone. Still, if you stick with it and make submitting holiday material a yearly tradition, your backlog of published holiday clips, not to mention cashed holiday checks, will continue to grow, well, like a bowl full of jelly!

The first step is to begin writing! Many freelancers simply see the holidays as a frustrating time when their e-mails go unanswered and snail mail goes undelivered because of unnecessary days off! The trick is to get in the spirit and enjoy the holidays as a time of inspiration and creativity. Naturally, unless you want to wait a whole year before submitting your work, you need to anticipate how giddy and fun the upcoming holiday will be, in order for you to write about it the necessary six to twelve weeks in which publishers need it in advance!

To do this, drag out your Christmas carols in July or Easter decorations in October. Sure, your family, friends and neighbors will think you've lost your marbles, but if this helps you write a cute holiday poem, short story, or activity, you'll be the winner in the end.

Calendar Girls (and Guys)

One way to help you organize your writing for the holidays is to invest in several cheap, dollar store calendars, such as the cheesy kinds with horsies and flowers, or perhaps loot the after-Christmas sales for half-off calendars in the New Year. This way, you know to set yourself some stringent deadlines for that holiday-related material. For instance, if that national women's magazine needs your Easter story by August of the previous year, pencil it in on your "periodicals" calendar. If that new anthology of spooky ghost stories needs your gothic ghost story well in advance of its planned Halloween publication date, mark it in your "books" calendar. And so on. While you're at the dollar store, invest in some seasonal stickers and use them to accentuate your gentle reminders.

Size DOES Matter!

As far as holidays go, Christmas is the 400-pound gorilla that Secretary's Day and Kwanzaa are afraid of! Everyone has a cute Christmas poem or holiday meditation to sell, and often magazines and anthologies, greeting card companies and newspapers have file cabinets full of such seasonal stuff. So, if your inspirational Christmas stories are falling on deaf ears, do a little research into lesser-known or unpopular holidays. Certainly, your clever story about a Christmas treasure hunt can be reworked to be a clever story about a 4th of July treasure hunt!

Be creative, and don't always go for the biggest holidays first. Remember, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Martin Luther King Day, etc., are all holidays that deserve to be explored more deeply by ambitious and talented freelance writers such as yourself. And, while it may be difficult to find "Easter carols" to inspire you, imagining selling your springtime short story might just be all the inspiration you need!

Ho Ho Hurry Up!

Writing for the holidays isn't easy. Finding just the right tone for seasonal material is often tricky and every market sees the holidays differently. It can be frustrating when one editor calls your Halloween story too "fluffy," and another calls the same story too "spooky!" But as the author of hundreds of published poems, stories, recipes and crafts, many of which relate to the holidays, I can tell you that the exposure and payoff can be well worth the fa la la frustration! So who cares if the Christmas tree is already in the attic and the stockings are folded away neatly for next year? Get out those Winter Solstice CDs and start writing today!

Rusty Fischer is the author of Freedom to Freelance: The Editor of The Buzz On Series Reveals How to Find, Get and Keep Your Next Freelance Job, available at:

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