With Christmas and New Year’s right around the corner, writers’ thoughts often turn to holiday writing. There is a huge writing market for all things Christmas as well as other holidays throughout the year.

First, let’s talk about writing for Christmas, since this is probably the biggest holiday to attract writers and publishers. What makes for good holiday writing, and where can you market what you’ve written?

When writing for Christmas, publishers often look for heartwarming stories that focus on the true meaning of the holiday. Christmas stories are generally true stories, although many magazines publish fictional pieces as well. The most important ingredient of a good holiday story is the relationship focus: How does the holiday bring people together? How can families help keep the holidays more joyful and simple? Publishers typically want true, first-person stories that can show this focus from your personal experience. What have you experienced that is helpful to others when it comes to celebrating Christmas?

Because Christmas can be a hard time for many people, stories should also be written to encourage and not bring out the difficulties or stresses of the season. Publishers look for upbeat endings, even though there may be a tragedy or crisis within the story. Because of the nature of Christmas, stories also often contain elements of spirituality and faith.

Aside from Christmas, publishers look for stories that reflect the heart of Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Easter, and Thanksgiving. If you write for children, almost any holiday is fair game, including Independence Day, Labor Day, and even Groundhog Day! Children’s book and magazine publishers welcome holiday fictional stories as well as nonfiction pieces that will both educate and entertain.

When researching markets to send your stories to, look at compilation book publishers like Chicken Soup for the Soul or Cup of Comfort books, as well as gift book publishers. In the periodical market, a magazine like Guideposts is a good place to start.

One thing to keep in mind when writing for the holidays is that publishers are generally buying holiday pieces for magazines 6-12 down the road. So, now’s a good time to start writing for Christmas 2010!