Wednesday, March 9

Prompted Productivity

When you are stuck for inspiration or lacking motivation, you may turn to someone else for any idea that will get you back on track.

Yet when you put someone on the spot and say, 'Give me something to write about,' you might get a response like, 'Um...shoes.' It can be frustrating, but even the most mundane or cliché ideas can be turned into something inventive if you don't run from the challenge.

A cursed shoe? A footprint at a crime scene? An artwork created entirely out of shoelaces? Perhaps it was even used to strangle the victim. Who is this victim? Why were they-

The simplest writing prompts are often the best because they are open to the broadest interpretation. Remember to ask yourself simple prompting questions like: Who? Where? When? Why? How? Most important of all: What if?

Writing prompts are beauties that can get writers eager to imagine and create new things. Here are a few things that you can do to ensure you some prompted productivity:

Gem in a Jar

There are a lot of things you can keep in a jar - honey, jellybeans, eye of newt - but if you find you have one handy, set it aside for writing prompts.

Small scraps of paper are easy to scribble one-word or simple scenario prompts onto. Fold them up and place them inside your jar for emergencies. The next time you get stuck, instead of grabbing a jar of jellybeans and coming down with the sugary writing blues, you will reach for an idea.

NOTE: Devouring an entire jar of jellybeans during the brainstorming process is only acceptable as long as one new prompt is written for each unit consumed.

Prompt Exchange

If you need more specific prompts, then writing them yourself can kill the impulsive creativity.

The best way to get a fresh angle is to have someone help you out. The best people to get specific prompts from are other writers. Don't know any? Social networking sites are great way to connect with fellow creative minds.

Find a fellow scrivener to exchange writing prompts with. You could even set a writing challenge to ensure that you both get something written.

Visual Stimuli

The things we see often inspire the things we imagine. When the cogs in your brain don't want to work, visual aids are a great way to stir the creative process, without feeling like you are banging your head against the table, waiting for thoughts to tumble out onto the page.

There are a fair few ways you can use visual stimuli to help with the flow of inspiration:

1) Photography

If you're a writer on the move, then one thing you might want to slip in your bag is a digital camera. You never know what you might come across that will inspire you of be a good reference at a later date.

You can also gain a lot of inspiration from other people's photography. Everyone interprets things differently. You never know what a photo might stir in you.

There are books on photography, gallery exhibitions, and photos online. Picture your character stepping into a scenery shot. Imagine the monologue or unexpected actions of the figure in a photograph. Think of what lies behind the lens and outside the frame.

2) Paintings, Sculptures and Artifacts

A picture is worth a thousand words. Everything has a story, but a writer is not an art critic. Visit a museum, whether you are interested in the history of the piece, or just want to observe and imagine your own tales about them.

Even the no-touchy atmosphere of a museum or gallery can stir an imaginative scenario. A bullet hole through canvas. A slashed painting. A murder emulated in the style of a famous work of art, or committed with an ancient artifact.

Paintings, sculptures and artifacts can be found on the internet and in books, but they seem so much more tangible when you see them in person. However, if you do not have access to such things, there is plenty of inspiration to be gained online or in books. Visit your local library and see what can stir your visual stimuli.

3) Film and Television

It might seem like a passive medium to some, but movies and television series of all genres can open your mind to a range of creative possibilities. Whether it is the time period, a character's personality trait, or even a new spin on an old idea, the works of others can inspire you to create something uniquely your own.

Picking some of your favourites and take note of what it is that you like about them. Fatally flawed characters? A moral? A good balance of humour and tension? Information known to one indicidual but withheld from another?

Take note of the things that hook you into the story. They are the elements that you can add to your own writing. You do not need to rewrite established stories but you can try and ignite the same fervour in your own work.

Other visual stimuli? Read a favourite childhood picture book. Go see a play or a sport. Visit an amusement park. Pocket the characters and ideas you find in day-to-day life. There is plenty of inspiration to be found.

Those are a few measures you can take to make sure you aren't stale-brained when it comes to creativity. Numerous more await your discovery. Best of luck!

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