Creativity's Workshop

Taming and Training Your Creativity to Write Abundantly


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3 Pinterest Boards Designed to Inspire Your Writing

I’ve had a pretty rubbish week healthwise, so I’m not yet ready to release my new e-book. It’s still in the works and will be appearing soon. In the meantime I’ve got plenty of other stuff to share.

Pinterest has taken the world by storm and it’s an addictive way to spend your time online.

As writers, we try not to allow too many distractions keep us from the page, but there are days (like I’ve had this week) when the page is not our friend.

We need some fresh inspiration to keep us and our Creativity going. Pinterest offers plenty of opportunities if you know what you’re looking for.

Many people use Pinterest to find great writing quotes, but that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Here are three Pinterest boards I’ve put together to get you writing again.

Pinterest-Visual-Writing-PromptsVisual Writing Prompts

We’re all familiar with writing prompts and how much fun they are to use. However, writing prompts come in many different forms.

Images make great writing prompts. They provide us with an immediate mental picture to work with. They can also evoke memories and emotional responses. Sounds like fantastic writing fodder, doesn’t it?

What should you look for in a visual writing prompt? The simple answer is: Anything that captures your curiosity. Anything that makes your Creativity sit up and take an interest in proceedings.

Wanna have a try? I’ve created a Visual Writing Prompts board to get you started.

Pinterest-World-BuildingWorld Building

Location and setting are very important when writing. But sometimes we find ourselves short of ideas. It can be difficult to describe a place’s unique elements when you don’t have some kind of image in front of you.

Pinterest provides a plethora of images from all over the globe for your viewing pleasure. There’s everything from basic bedrooms and kitchens to landscapes alien enough for even the most hardcore sci-fi writers.

If you’re stuck on where to set your scene, have a look at my World Building board for some ideas.

Pinterest-Caption-ThisCaption Images

If a story is too much for you to contemplate right now, why not aim for just a sentence or two?

One of my favourite games is ‘Caption This’ where you’re given an image and you have to come up with a caption which puts the image into words, or provides a back story to what you see. As a writer, it’s a fantastic creative warm up.

Of course, not everyone will appreciate you captioning their images, so I suggest you either create your own board especially for the game or pop over to my Caption This… board and join in the fun.

I’m sure there are heaps of other ways you can use Pinterest to inspire your writing. What’s you’re favourite way? Let us know in the comments with a link to your boards!


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5 Reasons to Use Writing Prompts

Two people jumping through the air on a euphoric writing high. They obviously used writing prompts this morning.

What if writing felt like this? (Image Credit: Microsoft Clip Art)

Magazines, websites and books on creative writing often contain writing prompts, implying they’re a staple food for the writing mind. However, most writers have probably never used one.

If you’re one of those writers, you might be wondering, “What’s so great about a writing prompt anyway?”

The simple answer is: They jumpstart you into writing by choosing your first words so you don’t have to.

And I think we all agree that first words are usually the hardest, except for the 50,000 or so that come after that. So why not get a little help?

Prompts can be used at any point in your writing journey. Here are 5 reasons why writing prompts are worth using.

  • If you haven’t written for a while and need to get back into the swing of things, writing prompts are the perfect things to jolt you back into good writing habits. They force you to get out your writing paraphernalia and get going.
  • If things have stalled in your current writing project, then use a writing prompt like a ‘sorbet’ to cleanse your literary palate and gain some distance from what you’ve been working on.
  • Writing prompts are a great way to start your writing session. They allow you time to work through your first words of the day so by the time you move on to your major project your words are flowing smoothly.
  • If you want to experiment with a different writing style or genre, writing prompts can plunge you into a change and provide you with the opportunity to experiment with creative abandon.
  • Writing prompts also do wonders for your Creativity. But I’ll let my Creativity tell you more about that another time.

The Purpose of Writing Prompts

Let’s get one thing straight right from the beginning, writing prompts are there to prompt, not to dictate your plots, characters or style.

The term ‘prompt’ means to assist or encourage. It’s a gentle force that stimulates and inspires ideas, not controls or dictatorially restricts your output.

If, in the process of writing, your story turns in a direction that results in you editing or even completely deleting the prompt line, that’s fantastic!

The purpose of the prompt is to get the story rolling. Once it’s on the move, the prompt is no longer necessary. It’s done its job.

Perhaps it would be even better to call them ‘writing matches.’ They lie dormant until you strike one up, then you can set all sorts of possibilities alight depending on where your story leads you. Once your page is burning well, the match has accomplished its purpose and the fire takes on a life of its own.

Now I’m sounding like a pyromaniac. But you get the idea. View prompts as a means to an end, not a cookie cutter solution.

So, find yourself some writing prompts and give them a go. You might be surprised by how effective they are.

If you don’t have easy access to writing prompts, try Punch for Prompt over at Charlotte Rains Dixon’s site.

Have you had fun with writing prompts? Tell us more in the comments.


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Prompted Writing: Will You Help Me?

An elderly lady's cane

Image Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

To celebrate the launch of Punch for Prompt, I’ve set myself a project for the month of March: Create 4 pieces of writing based on Charlotte’s writing prompts.

You’re welcome to join the project and have some writing fun of your own! It’s very simple:

  1. Punch for a writing prompt.
  2. Write.
  3. Polish.
  4. Post.

The prompt I got was ‘Will you help me?

I must confess, I don’t follow Charlotte’s instructions when using writing prompts. Instead of writing straight away, I play. I allow my Creativity to mull over concepts and explore possibilities before I start actually writing.

What thoughts did my Creativity and I have when presented with this prompt?

Usually those who ask for help are helpless – small children, the elderly, displaced mice. But what if we turned that on its head?

That led to this short story.

Will You Help Me?

Grace MacDonald felt the 83-year-old muscles in her back, already protesting the morning walk, grumpily spasm as she spent the energy needed to stand up straight. Her focus changed from the speckled cement footpath below her feet and walking cane to the jeans and checked shirt of the stranger standing in front of her.

“I beg your pardon,” she said, conscious of the squeal from her hearing aid as she pushed it deeper into her ear.

“Will you help me?” said the man.

It had been many years since anyone had asked her such a question. In her school teacher days, students were always asking for help. Then there were her own children asking. Before she knew it, there were grandchildren asking. And then, yes, the last request for her help had been from the lips of her husband. Two days before his heart attack, his weakening fingers getting the better of him, he asked her to help him with the top button of his shirt.

Fifteen years ago had been the last time someone asked her for help. Since then, she’d been the one doing the asking.

“Help you? What with?” Now that she had straightened fully, she could get a better view of him.

He was a large man. ‘Strapping’ they would have called him back in her day. He towered over her, his muscular shoulders twice as wide as her frail frame.

She pulled her knitted blue cardigan tighter across her chest. What on earth could this brute of a man want help with? She glanced behind him. The butcher’s was only 200 metres away. If she called out…

“I’m looking for a street.” He slid a beefy hand into his shirt pocket.

Her heart sank. This area had changed so much over the past twenty years. When her children had gone to school, Ashville was a town in its own right. Now the area was swallowed by urban sprawl. Homes had been demolished and trees cleared to make way for apartment buildings and new roads. Everything was different. She could barely find her way to the corner store and back, let alone give directions.

The paper crackled in his hand as he unfolded it. “Berkshire Rise is the name,” he said.

“Oh.” A relieved smile touched her lips. “You’re very close. It’s two blocks that way.” She gestured up the road behind him.

“Wonderful.” His face softened. “I’m looking for an old house. Number 14. Do you know it?”

She nodded. “A beautiful house it was. Jacaranda trees in the front garden. But it’s not there anymore. Torn down for some new development.”

His big mouth drooped. “No. Really? I’ve come all this way and…” He ran a hand down the side of his face. “I was born in that house. Hoped I could come back and see it one more time.”

A breath caught in her throat with a wheeze. “You’re not one of the Sikes boys, are you?”

“Yes, Billy Sikes. That’s me.”

She laughed. “I remember you. You used to come and play in our backyard with my children. I even have a couple of photos of you in the album.”

“Mrs MacDonald! Of course! You made the best lemon meringue pie I ever tasted. Photos, eh? I’d love to see them.”

“Well, so you shall.”

With that she slowly turned around and walked him back to her home, all the way helping him recall the distant childhood memories he’d hoped to find.

It felt so good to help again.

*****

Now it’s your turn. Punch for Prompt and see what you end up with. It’s great fun!

Next Friday I’ll be posting my next piece. Stay tuned.


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Announcing Punch for Prompt!

A screen capture of the Punch for Prompt page on Charlotte Rains Dixon

What makes a good writing prompt?

Yes, an imagination-sparking phrase or paragraph is essential. But for me the delivery method is just as important.

From my experience, a writing prompt needs to be used as soon as it is first seen, otherwise its effectiveness wears off.

But if your writing prompts are delivered by blog post or by e-mail, chances are they’re not arriving at the time most suitable for you.

That’s where Punch for Prompt comes in! It displays random writing prompts whenever you need at the click of a button!

But how did this all come about?

The History

Several months ago, Charlotte Rains Dixon mentioned she had a backlog of writing prompts and wasn’t sure of the best way to provide them to her writers. Thanks to a sudden moment of clarity while kneading cookie dough (doesn’t it always happen when your hands are wet or slimy or floury?), I realised that the answer to her problem was some fancy coding! We could feed the prompts into the back end, add a big button and each click would display a random prompt.

Of course, it’s rather complicated to build something like that, so I enlisted my brother’s help (he’s the brains, I’m the brawn) and we set to work bringing the idea into reality.

And here we are, months later, finally ready to share it with the world.

How to Use Punch for Prompt

When you’re ready to sit down and start writing, make your way to the Punch for Prompt page on Charlotte Rains Dixon’s site. Punch for Prompt button

Simply click the button and read the prompt that appears.

If you don’t like that prompt, click again for another.

Once you’ve found a prompt you like, click on the Copy to Clipboard button. Open up your word processor, right click on the page and from the menu select Paste. Your prompt should appear on the page and you’re good to go!

It’s really that easy.

If you enjoy using Punch for Prompt, let us know! We can keep you in the loop for any further updates.

Please note: The prompts currently shown in Punch for Prompt are all written by Charlotte Rains Dixon. I’m still working on the list for Creativity’s Workshop and hope to have my own Punch for Prompt page soon.

Stay Tuned for More Punch for Prompt Goodness

Starting next Friday, I’m planning on taking a four week break from my Myths of Innovation posts and doing something a little different. I’ll be taking four prompts from Charlotte’s Punch for Prompt and seeing where they lead me. Short stories, poems, weird characters. Who knows where things will end up. Tune in next week to find out.

*****

P.S. In other news, I’m now on Twitter! @JessBaverstock