Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Warm Up

It seemed like for a long time when I attended conferences, everyone was selling a writing prompt book. Many proclaimed they would strengthen character development or writing suspense. As a young writer, I would purchase these books, excited to “be” in the business. I laugh now because these books have sat untouched on my shelf at home along with other books proclaiming the key to writing the next breakout novel or the best mystery novel. They make me “look” like a writer at the very least. I mean, when you walk into a professor’s office you would expect to see text books in their field. When you walk into a lawyer’s office, you would expect to see law books. Likewise, when you walk into a writer’s “office” you would expect to see books on the craft of writing. The difference is I would certainly hope the professor and lawyer actually read the books on their shelves. But for me, my books turned into nothing better than those cardboard cutouts used to “fill” shelves in furniture stores.

My problem was I never saw the point of writing prompts. I wanted to write novels. When time is of the essence, I felt I couldn’t afford to waste time writing paragraphs that would not contribute to my bigger piece of work. What I didn’t realize was how beneficial the shorts are to the wheels of inspiration. I think I missed this because, if I really think about it, I was actually doing writing prompts in college. A teacher says write a page paper on this or a creative writing class says write a page description of your backyard, etc. I thrived in these classes because the words just flow for me. I think writing prompts are kind of like a warm up before a big race. Since college, I haven’t really done writing prompts…it’s not like my boss is going to assign one to me. I didn’t realize what I was missing until I started Pandora’s Blog.
For the past two weeks, I have developed a character blog for my Atlantis series. They are short, no more than 500 words, glimpses into one of my character’s life. As I’m writing, I can feel the wheels start to turn. It spurs thoughts on other stories. My mind begins “thinking” more. On the drive to work, in the shower, while cooking or walking the dogs. At all these moments of rest, my mind begins to wander. I know it used to do more of this, but, recently, not so much. It is actually rare I focus on writing during these times. But, since the blog, it has started again. So refreshing. Maybe those people all those years ago really knew what they were talking about.

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