Monday Morning Writing Prompt–A Day of Refreshment

I took this photograph while climbing Angora R...

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I just returned home from a day away from the computer, playing and enjoying the beauty of nature at and on beautiful Lake Tahoe. Many of us who write tend to be homebodies, or even a bit reclusive. I’m including myself in that group. But a day away, a day of refreshment for body and soul can serve to inspire.

For today’s prompt, I’d like you to think about a place you’d choose to go or an activity you’d like to engage in for a bit of respite…if only for a day. It can be a setting near you, or somewhere that you travel to only in your imagination. You might want to focus on the details of the environment or paint in broad brush strokes how your getaway inspires.

Enjoy your armchair one-day vacation and consider sharing it with the rest of us! Don’t forget that this prompt is open to either prose or poetry. I will post mine as soon as it’s written!

I’ve gotten sophisticated now, so here’s Mr. Linky:

Wordsmith Wednesday–Ten Places to Look for Inspiration

Community Thrift Store (ii)

Image by Pete Boyd via Flickr

Writer’s Digest recently released their top ten edition in which they create all kind of lists related to the world of writing. I had been thinking about discontinuing my subscription but when I received this copy, I smiled as I remembered the fun I had with last year’s issue that followed the same format.

I’m very fond of lists (OCD?). I love to make shopping lists, to-do lists…you name it. I especially like crossing things off of my to-do list. And so I thought for today’s post I would indulge myself. So here’s my “Off-the-Top-of-My-Head List for Ten Places to Seek Inspiration.

  1. Thrift shops–rummage through the remnants of other peoples’ lives. Focus on an object or let your imagination construct a scene around an object.
  2. Coffee shops or restaurants–lurk in the corner of the booth and jot down other people’s dialogues. Listen for subject and “voice.”
  3. Sitting or walking in nature–indulge in sensory description.
  4. A bus stop, train station or airport–watch people hurry about the business of life. Wonder where they are going and why.
  5. News sources–papers, radios, TV news and the Internet are ripe with snippets of news that can explode into fiction.
  6. Book Stores–in light of the closing of Border’s, we can only hope this will not become a trend. Yeah for e-books, but nothing replaces thumbing through the pages, looking at covers, luxuriating in “real” books. Look for trends and story ideas.
  7. Social Media such as Twitter and Facebook–follow conversation threads, look at ads, check out profiles. You never know where you might uncover a new character or theme.
  8. Art Museums–one of my favorites. Sit for a while in front of a piece of art. Really look at it. What would your senses perceive if you were inside the painting? How would it smell, taste, feel? What would you hear? Use the painting as the subject of a poem. Research a bit about the artist.
  9. Hospital or Doctor’s Waiting Rooms–I don’t suggest going there just to observe, but if you do have to wait, check out emotional responses of those waiting with you and try to describe them objectively. You are bound to pick up some anxiety, perhaps some sadness, relief, or impatience.
  10. Public Venues of any Sort–I wrote an entire short story once based on what I saw while waiting for a concert to begin…one of those “bring your blanket and sit on the grass things.” And the whole event, plagued by a significant thunder and lightning storm, gave me a story line.

Now it’s your turn. You might want to review the subject of “Artists’ Dates” in Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. Where are some of the places you go to discover your writing muse? Please share a bit with us in the comments. If you like, post something that you’ve written based on your trolling and link it in comments as well. I have limited Internet access right now, so will respond as soon as possible. Thanks for joining.

Wordsmith Wednesday–More About Dialogue

To continue last week’s discussion on effective dialogue, I’d like to focus on creating “natural” dialogue.

In my early attempts at dialogue, the voices of my english teachers strummed in the back of my consciousness: “Speak in complete sentences,” “No dangling participles,” “Slang is not acceptable.”  I’m sure you can add to the list.

The ability to speak and write in a way that shows command of grammatical rules is essential in our day-to-day functioning as adults and I would never disparage it. I confess to cringing when I hear educated, professional people murder our language. However, in day-to-day conversation, it is rare hear perfect usage. My husband and I speak in fragments, finishing each other’s sentences at times.  As a nurse I communicated using acronyms. Text messages have a language all their own. The examples of altered speech patterns are numerous.

Yesterday I spent a couple of hours at a Starbucks with a friend, catching up on the few months that had passed since we’d had quality time together. I’m sure if there was a writer sitting nearby, listening in on our conversation, she would have had ample opportunity to get a sense of the natural flow of dialogue. This is an “artist’s date” you should keep with yourself from time-to-time.

Tonight I’m going to a concert sponsored by a local smooth jazz radio station. My husband won the tickets. I’m sure I’ll enjoy the evening out but I plan on listening to more than the music. My pen and small notebook that I carry in my purse will be there in case I catch snippets of conversation worth remembering.

As an aside, the concept of artist’s date is explained in Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way.” If you haven’t spent time with that book, do yourself a favor. It’s a classic.