Monday, December 15, 2014

THE ELUSIVE MUSE: Journaling for writers

Here are 5 journal ideas for creative writers:

1) People-watch. 

The people around you can become fictional characters or the subjects of poems. You can go beyond mere reporting and write what you imagine as well. What do you think that woman's name might be? Where do you think she lives? Is she having an affair with that man, or are they just business partners? What is she thinking right now? What is she hiding in that big purse? Any of this can be the beginning of a story or poem. 

2) Listen. 

Eavesdrop in restaurants, in stores. Listen to your own family and friends -- really listen. Not just to what they're saying, but to the words they use, the pauses, the unique rhythms of their speech. And write down pieces of speech when they are still fresh in your ears. 

3) Take a walk. 

Describe your neighborhood. Describe the weather, the colors and textures, the light and shadow. Go beyond what you see -- describe the sounds, the smells, the feeling of the air on your skin. Look for the surprising details, the ones that aren't quite as you'd imagine, the ones you could never have made up. 

4) Take a field trip. 

Are you writing a scene in a police station? A city dump? Visit one. Write down the details that will make the setting come alive on the page. On the other hand, if you're not in the middle of a writing project, taking a field trip can give you ideas for one. Go somewhere you would normally never go. 

5) Use real-life stories. 

The news, gossip, the experiences of your friends, and even stories from history books can be sources for creative writing. Make notes on the story, and imagine the parts you don't know. Imagine it as if you were there. What, exactly, did people see? What were they thinking? What did it all feel like? What led up to the event; what happened next? Let your imagination fill in the gaps. Or imagine that some part of it had been different. How does that change the story?

More ideas at the workshop at The Newberry Library coming in April.  Take a look at their website: and register now.