After a four-month hiatus from writing stories, snippets and essays, my brain, hands, and sit-me-down are feeling the renewed activity of writing. My snippets pad is full; scraps of paper get emptied out of my handbag every evening with the day’s gleanings of overheard conversations, or ideas that pinged into my brain “out of the blue.”
The consistent issue I have with my writing life is not of ideas, but time. I’ve never felt stuck for ideas. I can only answer the question “But what do you write about?” with a huge sigh. I sigh not because of a dry spell in writing ideas. Just the opposite. It’s a flood, an ocean, a tsunami of ideas.
There’s the snapshot writings about situations. Dog walkers in the neighborhood. Marveling at the excitement of coming home after being away for three weeks. The very young couple (probably in their late twenties. I know, young is a relative term) having a love spat. He, leaning in beseechingly. She, pouting, teary–eyed. When does that technique lose its ability to solve problems? All grist for the writing mill.
My favorite ideas grow from character sketches from people-watching or conversations with friends or new acquaintances. Seeds of ideas.
I have journal books filled with celebrity and historical quotes, and author quotes just waiting to be written about. Wise words from friends that could be t-shirt phrases or bumper stickers, and if expanded, personal essays. My own personal list of bumper stickers began when I started writing down positive phrases in 1985, which was a pretty significant year for me. I had post-its all over my apartment, the bathroom mirror. Bedroom closet door. Car steering wheel. All to keep me on track. I started out small. None of the words were original, but they were gems. Some of you may recognize them.
The list looked like this: Bumper Sticker Philosophy #1
F.E.A.R.: False Events Appearing Real
Fake It ‘Til You Make It!
Act As If
Keep Your Head Where Your Feet Are
Stay In The Present
Let Go—Let God
GOD- Good Orderly Direction
Stick With The Winners!
One Day At A Time
You Are A Prize!
Ethel Lee-Miller blogs regularly about people, the power of words, and the writing life. She is the author of Thinking of Miller Place, and Seedlings, Stories of Relationships.