That blank white screen with that small, demeaning black cursor can be intimidating. That consistent flashing just ticking off every second you fail to type another word. Its asking, begging you to produce that perfect opening line or the next unexpected plot twist.
Its moments like that when I turn to my writer’s notebook. My notebook is a casual, safe space where I know nothing is permanent and that impermanence pushes away the pressure to write something perfect.
Every writer needs a writer’s notebook, a physical stack of papers bound together where ideas can be seeded. One of the most fascinating things I realized in my creative writing classes at Hamline was how many different ideas can be sprouted from the same seed. One of my teacher’s assigned what I thought were the most specific, structured writing prompts I’d ever seen but when volunteers read aloud what they came up with, I was astounded by how much every single story varied. If I hadn’t known, I never would have been able to tell those stories came from the same (what I thought had been specific) prompt.
This post, the first of many, is to provide you with a seed. Sometimes specific like those of my professor’s and sometimes purposely vague. I’ll start with my simple favorite, a list.
Make a List!
Think of anything you are struggling with in your current writing and write down as many possible solutions as you can. Or create a topic of something that has been on your mind, or you noticed in a book you read. Do not sensor yourself. Write everything that comes to mind down, even if you know you won’t use it, it might trigger something you do.
I’ll make a list of things you could possible make a list of.
- personality types
- things that crossed your mind today
- possible character “ticks” (small actions they do unconsciously)
- ways to represent anger
- things that are red
- things I’ve learned working at _____
- reasons a ghost would haunt someone (this is the one I’m doing today!)
- symbols that could represent *insert emotion*
- things that calm you down
- items you could buy at a garage sale
My list could go on and on but I’d rather you create your own. Have fun!