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Holiday Writing Hideouts
by Melissa Mayntz

The holiday season is an ironic time for writers: family demands are increasing, and so are publication opportunities as editors scramble to fill pages while staff writers are on vacation. But because children are home from school and the house is filled with distractions, writers can be hard pressed to find a quiet place to write during the holiday bustle. Flexible writers, however, can take their words on the road to find inspiration, new markets, and extra paychecks in unique quiet places during the holidays, even while they attend to necessary seasonal tasks.

Libraries and Bookstores – These are classic retreats for harried writers, and during the holiday season many libraries and bookstores sponsor story time events and activities for young children. This keeps the kids occupied while the writing parent pens a few words in the café, study area, or other quiet location. Rediscovering the joy of children’s holiday stories can even lead to queries for children’s or parenting magazines.

Fast Food Restaurants – As life on the go keeps more people in the drive thru lane, the eatery of a fast food restaurant can be a quiet, secluded space. An article on how to avoid the holiday fast food calories is an ironic inspiration from this writing venue. Small local restaurants can be especially tasty inspirations as newspapers look for reviews of seasonal dishes.

Gyms – Many fitness centers and gyms have small waiting or sitting areas writers can take advantage of to pen some words between holiday workouts. Taking a few laps around the track or a spin through an aerobic studio can get the creative, calorie-burning juices flowing, followed by a relaxing dip in the pool to soak up more get-fit query ideas perfect for January articles when “lose weight” is a top resolution.

Malls – A crowded mall may be the last place to consider when searching for a quiet place during the holidays, but many malls have small bistros, courtyards, and sitting areas perfect to pen a quick query letter or short article. Inspiration in the mall is easier to find than the latest discounts, and writers can offer holiday shopping tips, gift guides, and other service pieces to online markets, local papers, or other publications.

Car Repair Shops – A quick tune up winterizes vehicles for the chilly months ahead, and planning to write while the car is examined not only gives writers an hour of unimpeded quiet time, but is also a clever way to avoid sales pressure while waiting in a dealership showroom. While waiting, though, why not take a test drive of the latest hybrid or newest SUV to review it for automotive magazines? Test drive a minivan for family magazines or interview a salesperson for a career newsletter, and write up the pitches for those ideas while the mechanic writes up the bill.

Dentist Offices – Many dental plans erase cumulative benefits at the end of the year, and now is the time to schedule those cleanings and checkups. Use the time in the waiting room to browse new magazine markets or learn about the latest dental health trends for pitches to health magazines and newsletters. The same strategy can be used for any doctor’s office, whether the appointment is for a flu shot, a physical, or any other necessity.

Even as writers find their days filled with holiday errands, they can find inspiration in those tasks by taking advantage of unique, quiet places to work away from home. When they do come home from the mall, gym, or mechanic, they can drop the new queries in the mailbox and enjoy the peace of the holidays while looking forward to new checks arriving before the holiday bills.

© Copyright 2009, Melissa Mayntz

Melissa Mayntz is a freelance writer and editor from Utah. Her work has appeared in numerous publications and websites, including About.com, Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel, ByLine Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, the Orlando Sentinel, LoveToKnow.com, and WritersWeekly. She has edited more than 20 fiction and non-fiction manuscripts for publishers and independent writers; for current project rates and additional details, visit www.MelissaMayntz.com.

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