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Making Your Holiday Stories Matter

If you celebrate December holidays, perhaps you’re drawn this month to writing holiday-themed essays and stories. If you’re planning some holiday posts, I have a simple ask: Make them matter. Don’t just outline your family’s traditions or tell us what you’re planning to do for this year’s Solstice or relate a trip to visit the mall Santa. I mean, those can be the bases for amazing stories, yes, but too often as bloggers we feel an obligation to churn out a post or two simply because ‘tis the season, not because those stories are particularly meaningful in any larger sense.

What I’m wanting to revisit here is the enduring yeah write mantra: Your story has to have a “so what.” So you visited Santa and maybe your kid did something amusing, but so what? Did you or your child learn or grow from that experience? So your family has some amazing Hanukah traditions that you trot out every year and you want to share them, but so what? Is there a fresh take on how everyone related to each other that speaks to some larger truth about family, relationships, or ritual? So you’re decorating the house in a special way and you feel all glittery and warm about the experience, but so what? Why should your reader care?

You need to dig deep to find a fresh take on the common experience. But that’s what makes for the best essays – perhaps an unexpected personal revelation, or a character study that reveals the inner workings of a sibling rivalry, or an amusing anecdote that illustrates some larger point about the universal challenges of parenting.

Friend of yeah write Deborah Quinn said it best so long ago when she first named the idea of the “so what” for us, and her words are worth repeating because, as editors, we cling to them when we’re doing things like, say, choosing picks to highlight in the Friday voting post for special notice:

“I know we all want to believe that our painful experiences/cute toddlers/fights with spouses will speak for themselves, will resonate with our readers. But guess what?  They don’t. All our stories need shaping, honing, pruning. They need, in short, a ‘so what.’

Finding the ‘so what’ can be a brutal process because it involves carving away the excess baggage; it means cutting away the pretty image, the graceful sentence, the interesting side-note. When you find that ‘so what’ moment, though, when suddenly all the pieces fall into place and you find your real subject…that’s the moment, as a writer, when it all feels worthwhile.”

So please, bring us your holiday stories. But figure out why you’re really telling them – find your reason for writing – and I guarantee your readers will embrace your larger meaning.

Yeah write super challenge

The yeah write super challenge #2 may be over and done with, but stay tuned for news for the next one coming in early 2017! Make sure you sign up for our email blast so you don’t miss out on any announcements regarding super challenge #3.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Nonfiction know-how:

class is in session

What do you remember from learning to write in school? Did you have a particular teacher who made writing interesting? Did you read a story or article and think “oh, I wish I could write like that?” We get so used to the structured learning in school that sometimes when we’re out on our own in the Real World we’re not sure how to continue – or even begin – the learning process. That’s what this month’s nonfiction know-how is about: finding the master class that’s happening all around you.

Want more info?

Is this your first time here? Check out Sunday’s post which kicked off the week here at yeah write. Our email subscribers can also join us in the yeah write coffeehouse at its home on Facebook. If you’ve never taken the time to read them, please take a moment to familiarize yourself with our submission guidelines. The rules are a little different for each of our challenges and we’d hate to have to send back great writing on a technicality.

Did you happen to end up here because you suddenly saw yeah write in your stats? Sometimes members of our community spot excellent writing and they send those posts on over to us. We hope you don’t mind. Take a look around and get to know our community. We’re sure you’ll be happy here.

Have questions you can’t find the answer to by poking around the site? Email us or find us on Facebook and Twitter and we’ll happily help you out.

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How to submit and fully participate in the challenge

Basic yeah write guidelines: 1000 word limit; your entry can be dated no earlier than this past Sunday; nonfiction personal essay, creative opinion piece or mostly true story based on actual events.

1. In the sidebar of this week’s post, please grab the code beneath the nonfiction badge and paste it into the HTML view of your entry
2. Follow the Inlinkz instructions after clicking “add your link” to upload your entry to this week’s challenge grid
3. Your entry should appear immediately on the grid if you don’t receive an error message
4. Please make the rounds to read all the entries in this week’s challenge
5. Consider turning off moderated comments and CAPTCHA on your own blog

Submissions for this week’s challenges will close on Wednesday at 10pm ET. Voting will then open immediately thereafter and close on Thursday at 10pm ET. The winners, as always, will be celebrated on Friday.

Thank you for sharing with us your hard work! Good luck in the challenge…[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

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