by Cynthia Morgan DeKett
We’ve all had days when our minds seem devoid of creative ideas. On many occasions, I’ve accused my muse of abandoning me, going on vacation, or seeking out another more fertile, imaginative mind. The problem wasn’t my muse. The truth was I suffering from writing fatigue and boredom. I needed inspiration to get the creative words flowing again. I couldn’t escape to the cow pasture, like I used to do as a young girl; I had to come up with more appropriate avenues. I came up with six sure-fire ways to get the creative words flowing again and the funny thing about it, everyone of them were right there all along.
1. People Watching : This is my personal favorite and with 313.9 million people (2012 Census) in the United States of all nationalities, imaginations can soar. Any crowded venue will suffice. With a notebook in hand, you can be a mindful observer of human interaction and body language. Let your senses engage, note the setting, atmosphere, and listen to the many conversations, thanks to technology, people share with the world in public places. An astute observer, grab a snippet of conversation; it’s great fodder for a story.
2. Prompts: Write something every day even if it’s rubbish. By doing so you’re developing a habit, honing your craft. An excellent exercise in free writing, oneword.com gives you 60 seconds to write about the daily word prompt. Figment.com focuses on character, setting, dialogue, essays, and other prompts from acclaimed authors with the aim to help writers improve. If you need a reminder and accountability, 750 Words.com is a wonderful site.
3. Critique: Utilize a critique checklist or outline to break down the first chapter of a favorite author’s novel. Did the opening line and paragraph hook you? What was the inciting event? How did the author portray the setting? How was the main character introduced? Was there depth? Can you picture the main character? And so on. Taking a critical eye to a successful, accomplished author’s work will spark creative thoughts when you turn back to your own.
4. Brainstorm with a writing friend or mentor. Do word associations or bounce ideas off each other. Those of you who are familiar with Scrivener may enjoy the new mind mapping software, Scapple, now available (MACS) Mind mapping is a wonderful tool to help start the flow of creative ideas and once on paper can be used to form a quick outline.
5. READ: A hallmark must-do for every writer. You don’t need to stick to your favorite genre; in fact, I recommend you branch out. You might discover you’re a better writer in another genre. Magazines and newspapers can provide innumerable sparks of inspiration. Sometimes a news story will prompt an emotion or memory and an idea for a story is born.
6. Quiet time and reflection: Whether it’s work, family, or other things demanding our attention, time is, perhaps, our most scarce commodity. Yet, having downtime for our minds to wander playfully through fields of imagination is, for the writer, essential. My friend and writing mentor, Nan Lundeen, author of Moo of Writing: How to Milk Your Potential, writes often of relaxation, meditation, and fresh air facilitating our creative expressions from our mind to the pages, we just have to get out of the way. So take a walk around the block, park, library, sit quietly in a corner café, or find you a cow pasture. According to Nan, they’re Zen masters. Fifteen to thirty minutes a day for creative renewal is a good start. We waste that much time surfing the net.
We all have beautiful, moving, harrowing, breathtaking stories within us if we take time to listen, believe, and give ourselves permission to let our mind and imagination run free. Happy writing.
visit Sheila M. Good at http://www.cowpasturechronicles.com
I often wonder what other runners think about while they run. Ruminating while running is a common occurrence for me. Lots of times, as I get into the cadence of running, my mind also gets into the rhythm of providing creative ideas.
I run with my husband, Don, and because we both keep a slightly different pace, the longer the run, the more time I spend training alone. Most runners these days use IPods to keep their mind occupied. My playlist usually helps, in my case, it helps keep my mind from concentrating on something other than the pain I feel or how tired I am by the distance.
On race day, because of our pace differences, even though I run surrounded by others, I’m always in my own world. It is inspiring when someone passes by and tells me “good job” or “keep it up, you’re doing great,” especially when I’m trailing behind the average runner. And although inspiring, most runner’s pet peeve is the dreaded “you are almost there!” or “you are half way there!” especially when one is struggling to put one foot in front of the other.
This is when inspiration sets in for me! Sometimes, I wish I could stop to write what floods through my mind, however I have to keep in mind the task at hand. My priority is to complete the training or, most important, finish the race. Once past the finish line, I can worry about putting pen to paper and jot down the ideas that visited along the way.
Back in February during a 15-mile training run, while listening to my IPod, a song came up that stirred memories from the past. Lucky for me, I was able to remember the poem that came to me during the run. “The Best of Times” is the product of that run.
To complete the journey for this poem, later on, I was able to find a picture taken during a visit to my hometown. I believe that my memory of our walking that trail says it all! And it is also another example of “The Best of Times” shared not only with family, but especially with friends!
Back in 2006, during a visit to my home town, we decided to take with us a green ducky which we called Howie. In 10 days, Howie discovered how many fabulous places can be found in the island of Puerto Rico.
Journey is the first tale in a series of photo-illustrations incorporating poetry and photography and featuring Howie the green ducky.
Hope you enjoy its journey!