By Sharon Miller Cindrich
Boo! No sooner have you nestled into a fall routine when the pressure of the holidays begin to creep closer––and the thought of juggling the responsibilities of seasonal family activities with your own writing deadlines can really give you the willies.
The real treat as this crescendo of activity begins to build is the season’s rich writing material that can be turned into lucrative story ideas and land you lots of juicy assignments. The trick? Be ready to harvest the ideas, experiences and tips you discover in the midst of the holiday chaos by following these simple steps.
Be ready. Carry extra pens and notebooks to the apple dunking, costume parade and pilgrim feast. Jot down your ideas or impressions before you forget them and store them in an easy-to-reference spot.
Take photos. Despite your incredible writing style, a picture is worth a thousand words and might get you some extra attention with an editor when coupled with a query. Use the snapshots of your family’s apple picking adventure or pumpkin patch visit as credentials for your pitch.
Have fun in the name of research. Use the season as an excuse to do something you’ve always wanted to in the name of researching a story, such as: “How to throw a not-so-scary Halloween party” or “Leaf–pile jumping and other free outdoor fun for kids” or “Planning a family feast for fifty dollars or less.” Save receipts to write off expenses if you land an assignment based on your activities.
Take time to reflect. If you’re a die-hard journal-keeper, you already know the cathartic benefits of scribbling down the day’s events. But as a writer, the exercise will serve not only as release of the day’s stress, but also as a reference tool for essays, ideas and anecdotes for future assignments.
Sharon Miller Cindrich is a freelance writer whose work has been published nationally in magazines and newspapers around the country including The Chicago Tribune, Parents Magazine, and The Writer. She is a Contributing Editor at FamilyFun Magazine and writes a bimonthly humor column for West Suburban Living Magazine in the Chicago Suburbs. She is a regular contributor to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Lifestyle section and Metroparent Magazine. Her book E-Parenting: Keeping Up with Your Tech-Savvy Kids is now out from Random House. Read more about Sharon at http://www.pluggedinparent.com/.