Hello Dear Ones!
Years ago I bought myself a small spiral notebook and pen to keep in my purse. (BTW: Today, the notebook in my purse is about the 25th such writing journal.) On the very back page of this notebook I began jotting down different topics as they came to me randomly – for use as poems, short stories, or as simple paragraphs that might, someday, find their way into a story. It’s a mere list that looks somewhat like this:
The scent of a baby
Fresh ground/fresh brewed coffee
Riding a bicycle
Driving a car
The first pickle in the jar
My list now has about 350 entries of topics I still might write about – someday. Many have already inspired me to write. Some I have written about and yet I have kept the topic on the list as there are so many ways to express the different facets of that same topic – such as thunderstorms! Each and every storm is unique and pulls emotions from within as varied as the storms themselves!
How do I use this Potential Writings list? On days when I know I want to write, yet I am uninspired as to topic, I pull up my list (which is now in the computer). I might randomly choose a topic or, on occasion, I’ll glance at the topics and be drawn to something specific that sparks my creative passions! This topic I’ll most often use as a starting point for a poem.
Why a poem? Writing poetry, for me, is a first step to connect with my inner writer. Poetry is often a short burst of inspiration. Because most poems are relatively short, one can be completed in less time than it takes to prepare a meal. The resulting poem is a permanent record of my emotional , spiritual and/or physical experience of that time in my life. They are fun to re-read years later.
During the exercise it is important to merely connect with the creative energy inside. Once the pen hits the paper and the words start to flow – or once the letters appear on the computer screen – thoughts and feelings begin to surface. Playfulness tends to come to the forefront of my imagination and I begin to ‘see’ possibilities that exist in my mind only. Utilizing expressions and creative phrases to describe events or emotions becomes a game. The more elaborate I can craft a stanza, the more fun it becomes for me!
Let me give you a ‘for instance’. When my kids were little, they were restless when confined to the car on trips. Once they were of an age to imagine – and that was by the time they could talk – I’d get them practicing their creativity. One such very long trip I had the kids each choose an animal. My one son chose an elephant. The other chose a mouse. Perfect! Then I had them describe their animal out loud – which they did. Then I suggested that they put clothes on their animal. And each item of clothing was to be put on them one piece at a time. Before the second piece of clothing was put on, the first piece of clothing was mentioned. Then before the third piece of clothing was added, the first and second piece of clothing was mentioned. Also, each piece of clothing had to be a different colour.
For example, there was a grey elephant. This grey elephant put on a pair of blue Bermuda shorts. The grey elephant put on a pair of blue Bermuda shorts and then a bright red T-shirt. The grey elephant put on a pair of blue Bermuda shorts, a bright red T-shirt and then a yellow belt to keep his shorts from falling down! Once their animal was fully dressed, then they’d have them doing crazy things. The elephant, for example, might put on roller skates and skate beside us holding on to the car door with one hand while holding the string of a kite in the other. Or the mouse would hide in the glove compartment and make noises that would make Dad think there was something wrong with his car engine! Seldom did they tire of it as they could imagine that elephant and mouse in the car with us and they were laughing and enjoying the creativity of it all.
Once the children got older and knew about rhymes, we started to create crazy poems in ways that rhymed.
One such silly poem, again an elephant theme, was the following:
Once there was an elephant
Who tried to use the telephant.
No no, I mean an elephone
Who tried to use the telphone!
Yes, it’s a kids’ exercise in creativity, but it works for us as adults as well! It works especially during those times when we are less than inspired to write, yet understand the value of consistent practicing and the honing of our writing skills. There are just some days when the destination of the completed writing is of less significance than the journey of the writing itself.
So, back to the Potential Writing list. It doesn’t take much to get started writing once inspired. What it does take is the desire to actually take out the list and make a choice. Then to sit down and write something. Anything! That takes committed action. No one can do it for you. It has to come from within you. And the more you make the time to do it, the easier it becomes. And the better the results you have with this, the more you mobilize the fun aspect of the experience, the more inclined you will be to act upon it!
Now, that is what I record in the back of the notebook. Here’s what I write in the traditional fashion of starting on the first page! Poems and descriptive phrases and paragraphs!
For example, one paragraph I recorded in the wee hours of a morning:
“I awoke one hot summer night to the heart-pumping drama of thunder. Stepping out onto the tenth floor balcony of my small apartment, I watched a storm approach. Forewarned by the blaze of cloud-splitting razors of lightening, I counted the seconds between the light show and the sound I knew would soon follow. A thousand one, a thousand two. A child’s way to count the seconds between the light and the ear splitting sound of the thunder to come. The climax to this incredible show that night was a spectacle never before seen and likely not to follow in my lifetime – one bolt of lightening found its target in the mechanics of a hydro substation. The resulting fireworks were far superior to any preplanned Canada Day celebration I have ever witnessed – and I’ve been to some amazing fireworks demonstrations over the years.”
What this is leading back to in a round about fashion is that after I had allowed myself to experience the incredible moments of magic and marvel, and to feel – really feel – the awe and beauty of the experience, I sat with that small notebook and I jotted down all the nouns and descriptive words and phrases that came to mind spontaneously. Many of the words I wrote that night have found their way into poems and stories I have written over the years. Some of them I used in the descriptive passage above.
Over the years I have filled more notebooks than I have taken time to count – there are a few gems in each. Not everything I write is valuable. Often times exercises and practices are just that – practices. Yet there are poems and paragraphs in those books that when I look at them I go: WoW! Did I really write that? Cool!
I’ve started going through the old books and pulling the jewels out from the pages and entering them into my computer. That in itself has been, and continues to be, an amazing journey.
May something you’ve read here inspire you to find the Potential Writer in you. It’s a journey well worth the first step!
In Light and Laughter,