When I attended my very first writing group session, I was horrified when the leader announced, half an hour in, that it was time to write for twenty minutes before we paused for a cuppa. Write? But what about?
For twenty-five minutes I scratched my head, blew my nose, scribbled a few words, crossed out a few words, chewed my pen, gazed out the window, studied the other class members, scribbled a few words, crossed out a few words, found a new pen in my bag, crossed my legs, un-crossed my legs, scribbled a few words, crossed out a few words…until I finally managed an uninspiring paragraph about being uninspired and having nothing to write.
During the break, I could barely swallow my coffee (it didn’t help that it was the very worst generic blend!) and almost choked on a soggy biscuit, for I was certain I would be evicted from the group once they heard my pathetic effort. To add to my woes, the leader suggested I read first as I was the newest member.
But when I looked up after reading my paragraph in a barely audible whisper, I noticed all the other participants were nodding wisely.
“We call ourselves writers; you’d think we could think of something to write about,” said one.
“Ye…s,” sounded an echo around the room.
“Would you prefer I gave you a topic to write about in future?” asked the leader.
Every head nodded in unison.
I wasn’t alone; I wasn’t evicted. And…from then on the leader gave us a topic for every writing session. Now, I’m not suggesting that all of those topics inspired great works of literature but at least they gave us a starting point. Random inspiration doesn’t necessarily come when you need it most.
Sometimes ideas come, seemingly out of nowhere, motivating your very best stories and poetry but, unfortunately, although the next flash of inspiration might just be hiding around the next corner, more often we have to find inspiration or writing prompts. Old photographs are good, postcards, magazines or newspapers. A book (or website) of proverbs and sayings can be helpful, and it’s a great idea to make a scrapbook filled with interesting pictures, news items and even cartoons, for all those times when you have time to write but no ideas.
And then…there’s this blog :) Use the daily prompts as you like. Share them with friends or your writing group/circle as needed. Look at the big picture, study the small details. Just keep on writing…
And, do send some of your efforts in to the magazine. The submission details are at the side :)