Friends always say, “I don’t know what to write about” and then ask me where I get my ideas for stories, blogs or a book. Do you “scrap book” using special printed papers, embellishments and photos? Do you include a cute or wise caption? If so, you have all the makings for a story you can write!
Looking at the scrap book page of your son’s first day of kindergarten, I am sure you can remember his excitement, or apprehension, how you helped him choose the clothes he was going to wear or the struggle you had trying on school clothes at the store when all he wanted to do was play outside. Maybe you remember your own first day of kindergarten. These are kernels of stories that just need to be expanded.
Your grandmother’s 90th birthday, a family vacation, your honeymoon or an average summer evening with friends around the outside deck dining table, all cataloged in your scrapbook present an endless supply of story materials. You can use the picture to imagine not your son’s first day, not your first day of kindergarten but a different young child, a composite born and named in your mind who has a story to tell.
Your grandmother’s 90th birthday party celebration pictures may trigger wondering about what things will be like when you are ninety years old. What will the world look like? Where will your be and what will you be doing? Do you want to live to be 90? Any of these would make marvelous stories.
Your story does not have to be long. When challenged to write a six-word story, Ernest Hemingway thought, drank another beer and said, “For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn” and won the bet without discussion. Your story can be 500 words to 5,000. It does not matter. What matters is that you have the visualization, the images, opinions and feelings about all sorts of subjects and that you write them down.
There are numerous approaches to writing of any kind. One is brainstorming. Using your reference picture, write down all words that come to mind in three minutes. It will show you what you feel about the picture and thus what direction you could take for your story. A second method is to write a basic outline using incomplete or complete sentences as you wish. You can fill in a detailed outline once you decide this is the story you want to write. A third method is to use post-a-note stickies and write different aspect of what you feel when you see the picture, one to each piece of paper. Afterwards line them up on your desk or a wall and place them in various spots and in different orders and eventually a layout will develop that makes sense to you. Different colored, lined index cards serve the same purpose. You write your story using those thoughts as topic sentences or fillers.
Writing comes more easily than you think. Your sentences do not have to be complete sentences or the spelling correct. Your computer, spouse or high school child can “put things in order” once you have the thoughts down if you desire. What is important is finding that you can write. Once done, writing stories from your scrap book of pictures or from the scrap book in your mind are all waiting to be tapped. Think of how much fun you will have putting a story to those pictures and what a legacy you will leave!