Consider national holidays and celebrations as a source of inspiration for your writing, and as prompts for your Ideas Folder. For example, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Volunteers’ Day, Anzac Day, Christmas, Easter, and so on…
Exploring Mother’s Day
Mother’s Day is a time to celebrate mothers and motherhood. We all have mothers, have had mothers… or substitute mothers, or are mothers ourselves. Whether we come from a loving family, were raised in an orphanage or have been moved around between people during our formative years, we all have mother experiences of some ilk. No two experiences are the same, not even in the same household.
This is the time to harness emotions and memories of mothers and mothering…
> Close your eyes and let your memory run rampant across images from childhood, and being mothered – regardless of who was doing the mothering or how it was done.
> Notice the changes in your senses and emotions as you watch images come and go.
>Open your eyes and jot down whatever words come into your mind.
>Now write a point-form list of what you would like to express to your mother or about mothers, mothering, motherhood or Mother’s Day.
>Using this list, decide what you would like to write and craft your unique creation on this theme. This may be one piece of writing, encompassing several aspects of motherhood etc., or several different written gems. It may be one idea expressed using a range of genre – poetry, short stories, essays, memoir… or you may want to stick to one genre for various ideas and expressions.
>If you are a mother, grandmother or great-grandmother, you may like to repeat the above steps from one or all of these points-of-view.
>Any ideas not pursued this time, can be filed in your Ideas Folder for future inspiration.
One Situation = Many Possibilities
By situation I mean setting, location, circumstance, event, season, and so on. This can be whatever you like… that is, whatever you want to use as the basis of an idea which you can develop into a story, article, essay or poem. You may even use it as the framework for a novel, or to stimulate memories that could become part of a memoir.
For the example to be presented here, we’ll explore the summer season and some of the options this presents for writing.
Write one word in the middle of a page. In this example, the word is SUMMER.
> Draw a circle around the word, and then draw lines outwards from it… like spokes in a wheel pushing out from the central hub.
> Ask yourself, ‘What does the word ‘summer’ conjure in my mind?’ and write one answer at the end of each spoke. You are likely to have words like… HEAT, CLOTHING, HATS, DANGER, INSECTS, FIRST AID, SUNGLASSES, HOLIDAYS, SURFING, DEHYDRATION, GARDENING, WATER SHORTAGE, FIRES… and the list goes on…
> Add spokes as more words rush into your thoughts.
> Take the word that most holds your attention and put it in the centre of another page, then repeat the above steps.
> If the word you chose was SURFING, for instance, your new list may include… SURF BOARDS, BEACHES, SHARKS, WET SUITS, WEATHER, TIDES, SURFING LESSONS, EVENTS, COMPETITIONS, COASTAL SWELL… and so on…
> Ask yourself how you might use any of these topics as a basis for your writing. Chances are, something is jumping out at you and begging to be written. It might be a book presenting a summary of each of the best surf beaches in your state… or an article on learning to surf… the joys of surfing… or the dangers of surfing. You may write from your personal experience as a surfer, or develop a novel in which the main character is a pro surfer. You may even write a potent poem about the freedom of communing with the elements… or a piece from the perspective of a shark watching surfers while it circles below them.
> Sharpen the idea you are most attracted to and use it to develop your next writing project.
> Sign and Date the other ideas stimulated by this exercise and add them to your Ideas Folder for future inspiration.
This exercise stimulates endless ideas and possibilities for writing topics and projects. In the above process, I presented eight examples of what might be written as a result of exploring the word ‘surfing’. This was a quick brainstorm and by no means an exhaustive list. These examples would be a small percentage of the options which would present themselves, if I took each of the words stimulated in this whole process and expanded them as well.
Remember too, this exercise can be repeated over and over, using a different initial word.
Create An Ideas List
This exercise is best done one step at a time, without reading ahead. It is designed to access the subconscious, so for optimum results be spontaneous and don’t stop to think or question the process. The idea is to do the exercise quickly and without hesitation.
- Take a blank sheet of paper and divide it into two columns.
- Starting at the top of the left column, write the first word that comes into your mind.
- Write the next word you think of underneath your first word.
- Continue in this way, without thinking, without pause, as quickly as possible until you reach the bottom of the page.
- Go back to the first word you wrote, and in the right side column write a would-be title provoked by that word.
- Again, continue in this manner until you reach the bottom of the page, working as quickly as you can and without censoring what you write.
- Put down your pen, close your eyes, and sit quietly for a few moments.
- Read over your Words List (left column) and jot down on a separate piece of paper any words that may represent a theme on which you may like to write.
- Read your Titles List and make note of any of the titles that draw your attention.
- Ask yourself the following questions:
- Are these titles I would like to write?
- Is there something underneath any of these titles I would like to explore?
- Do any of these titles remind me of something, someone, an event..?
- Do I see a novel, short story, essay, poem, or memoir bursting from any of these titles?
- Everything you’ve written on your separate page forms the basis of your Ideas List. Re-organise these ideas into categories that suit your way of working and perhaps highlight those ideas that most spark your energy.
- Sign and date your list. (Sign and date everything, always!)
- If you are ready for a new writing challenge, you can jump right in and start working on one of these ideas.
- File the remainder (or all, if you’re not starting straight away) to use as future prompts.
- Continue to add new ideas as they arise… from wherever they may come!
Keep an ideas folder for inspiration when you’re ready to write, but both the page in front of you and your mind are blank.
How Do I Experience Writer’s Block?
This exercise relates directly to my Blogs ~ Writer’s Block – Part A (posted today) and Writer’s Block – Part B . To enhance the benefits of this exercise, read Writer’s Block – Part A before proceeding.
Writer’s Block appears to plague all writers at some stage of their writing life. It can strike anytime and without warning, and while it is an insidious phenomenon it is not insurmountable.
The best way to minimise its impact on your work is to be prepared for it with an appropriate strategy to halt it where possible and eradicate it when it can’t be avoided. You will find possible strategies in my Writer’s Block Blog Series, mentioned above.
In order to utilise this information to best advantage, it is a good idea to first explore how Writer’s Block touches you and your work. This exercise will take you on that journey.
Ask yourself the following questions and write as much detail as you can in answer to each one ~
- Are there times that I want to write, but don’t?
- If so, why does that happen?
- What is it that stops me from picking up a pen or bashing away on the computer keyboard?
- Do I have a writing-friendly space for your writing? (See Blog ~ Writing-Friendly Spaces)
- Is/are the reason/reasons to do with the mechanics of what I am writing – the storyline, the point-of-view, my writing style, the characters, or similar?
- Do I have a time problem? Too many other commitments taking my attention?
- Is my writing pause caused by my response to another person’s attitude to my writing?
- Does my own attitude get in the way? Or my fears?
These questions are designed to get you thinking about Writer’s Block, whether or not it lurks between you and your computer, and how and why it manifests. Add more questions yourself if they come to you, and keep exploring until you feel you’ve fully clarified your relationship with Writer’s Block.
This is not about finding excuses for when you’re not producing work, but rather to put the mystery of Writer’s Block into perspective and identify what really happens so it can be dealt with productively.
Visit Writer’s Block – Part B to continue this exploration.
Write what you’re passionate about… and get the story down while the fire burns. Otherwise, your finished work may be lukewarm.
Point-Of-View Exercise – Part B
In each of the four components of this part of the exercise you will use the same personal characteristics as you used in Part A of this exercise (Here) to introduce yourself. However, this time you will be writing from different Points-Of-View.
Part A was written from the 1st Person Point-Of-View (POV) – from your own perspective (using ‘I’ or ‘we’ – speaking about yourself).
Part B (a) and (b) are to be written from the 2nd Person POV (using ‘You’ – to address you directly).
Part B (c) and (d) are to be written from the 3rd Person POV (using ‘He’ ‘She’ ‘They’ – another person speaking about you).
Part B (a) – Write from the 2nd Person POV – Using the same characteristics you identified in Part A as describing yourself, write a piece of up to 100 words about you from the perspective of a parent or parent figure.
Part B (b) – Write from the 2nd Person POV – Using the same characteristics you identified in Part A as describing yourself, write a piece of up to 100 words about you from the perspective of your worst enemy. If you don’t know of any enemies, imagine you have one and what they would say about you using your stated characteristics.
Part B (c) – Write from the 3rd Person POV – Using the same characteristics you identified in Part A as describing yourself, write a piece of up to 100 words about you from the perspective of your best friend.
Part B (d) – Write from the 3rd Person POV – Using the same characteristics you identified in Part A as describing yourself, write a piece of up to 100 words about you from the perspective of a biographer one hundred years from now.
Try to get into the spirit of this exercise by imagining you are the person from whose perspective each piece is written. Write from their attitudes, thought processes, and how they would express themselves.
By the end of this exercise you will have experienced the same information [your own characteristics from Part A of this exercise (Here)] from three different Points-Of-View. Notice how the same information can bring different results from different characters and different Points-Of-View. For example, it’s not unusual for ‘shy’ to be interpreted as ‘aloof’ ‘stuck up’ or ‘judgemental’, depending on who is making the observation and what frame of mind they are in.
Point-Of-View Exercise – Part A
Close your eyes and think about the characteristics that make you uniquely you. Don’t concentrate only on the physical… go deeper… and deeper… until you reach the essence of who you are – your likes, dislikes, values, attitudes, what is important to you, how you approach things – and so on, and so on…
Jot these down, and keep going until you feel you have reached your inner self.
Having clarified who you are at a very deep level; set aside your notes.
Write a piece that introduces you to the reader. Write from your own perspective (‘I…’) as you would if you were speaking directly to a person or a group of people.
Don’t exaggerate or be too modest. Be clear, precise and honest. Remember, no one but you will see what you write, unless you want them to…
The word limit for this exercise is 100 words. You won’t fit everything about yourself into this number of words, but if you follow the directions above the most-characteristically-you items will be included.
This exercise is Part A of a five component Point-Of-View exercise. It will be used as a foundation for the next exercise I post.