by Lillian Csernica on March 31, 2013
You know how it is. You’ve been wrestling with that short story. You’ve been slogging through that novel re-write. Your brain is fried, your motivation is gone, and you just can’t face all the mental arm-twisting it will take to make you do today’s writing. There’s got to be an easier way!
There is. Let’s have some fun!
1. Blog contest! As you can see from the lovely graphic on the right, I have joined the A to Z April Challenge. Daily bursts of writing based on that day’s letter of the alphabet!
2. Fortune cookies! Go out and buy yourself a box of fortune cookies. You can get them at the grocery store. Go home, crack one open, read that fortune, and WRITE! Make the fortune your first sentence, make it your punchline, make it the banner that hangs over the head table at the bridal reception. Just go for it!
3. Read the back of cereal boxes. (Hey, you were at the grocery story anyway for those fortune cookies, right?) There’s an old joke about an aspiring writer who asked a seasoned pro where he got his ideas. The pro said he got them off the backs of cereal boxes. Think about it! Lucky Charms. Count Chocula. Frosted Flakes. Shredded Mini-Wheats. Gotta be something there you can use!
4. License plates. We all drive a lot, right? Pay attention to the license plates around you, especially those goofy vanity plates. Anybody with DRTHMOM has got to be the basis for a great story character.
5. If all else fails, go dictionary diving. This works best with an actual old school dictionary. Close your eyes, flip open the book, then jab your finger down on the page. That’s your word. Write it at the top of a fresh sheet of paper/document and make some verbal magic!
6. Five Random Objects. Get a pillow case, then roam around your living space and grab five objects that are as different from each other as you can manage. Shake up the case, close your eyes, and pull out the object. Start writing! (This works even better if somebody else picks out the five objects.)
7. Toy Face-Off. Take two small toys (action figures, wind-up toys, Lego people, etc.) and then set yourself a time limit. Five minutes, maybe ten. Brainstorm all possible scenarios between those two toys. Cell mates? Blind date? Surrogate mother? Rival overlords of intergalactic crime syndicates? Get as crazy as you can.
8. Collect take-out menus, the more exotic the better. Indian, Cambodian, Thai, French, Basque, Vietnamese. Close your eyes, shuffle the menus, pull one out, flip it open, and point that finger. Whatever it is, go with it!
9. Give a voice to something that cannot speak, that was never meant to, that never will. One of the greatest titles of all time (IMHO) is Harlan Ellison‘s I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream. Pick an object, an animal, a cloud, a mail box, a hub cap. What does the world look like from its perspective? What are its hopes and dreams?
10. Eavesdrop. People are always talking, especially now that the cell phone is apparently a life support device. Just listen! All you want are bits and pieces. A catchy phrase here, a plaintive question there, a really acidic remark or a dose of pure whining. Grab it, grab a few, scribble them down and then go make something out of them.
Remember: The only rule is, THERE ARE NO RULES. Have fun! Combine these ideas! Throw them all out and make up your own! Whatever it is that gets your motor running and lifts you out of that dry well, DO IT!