Tag Archives: writing prompts

365 Days of Story Seeds

365 story seeds

One of my goals for 2015 is to complete a 365 day project. I have a 365 day reading project that I’ve already posted about (my Short Story a Day project) but I wanted to do a 365 day project that was writing-related.

So, on January 1, I started my 365 Days of Story Seeds project. Every day, I pick two writing prompts from my box of prompts, and paste them into my notebook. I’m not writing a full scene for each prompt; I’ve tried to do that before and it stopped being fun because it wasn’t always easy getting a full scene from a prompt or two.

Instead, I write two or three sentences. Snippets of dialogue, some description. A couple of times I started off with “What if …” and wrote out the idea the prompts inspired instead.

When I’m done, I upload a picture of the prompts to the Tumblr blog I hastily started up for the project: 365 Story Seeds. Other than posting to this Tumblr, I haven’t had time to do much else with it, so right now it’s using the default Tumblr template. (But finding a new template for it is on my Bloggiesta list of to-dos for Monday!)

It’s been fun, and pretty quick and easy, too. I’ve been doing the prompts right before bed, but I try to pick the next day’s prompts right after, on the theory that this gives my subconscious mind 24 hours to do something with them. I don’t think that’s been working well so far, though, because honestly, I’ve been forgetting the prompts almost as soon as I’ve glued them into my notebook!

My favourites so far? It’s hard to pick, because I haven’t really written any particular story seeds that have jumped out at me yet. Probably these are the ones I like best so far:

http://365storyseeds.tumblr.com/post/107187089626/day-4-prompts-human-sacrifice-and-loser

http://365storyseeds.tumblr.com/post/108326642451/day-16-this-is-another-one-that-might-develop

http://365storyseeds.tumblr.com/post/107769051866/day-10-came-up-with-a-story-idea-for-this-one-i

And hopefully by the end of the year I’ll have a notebook filled with story seeds, some of which may spark a longer story!

From My Shelves: Ten Books for Creative Inspiration

Thank you to Joy Weese Moll, for suggesting that I put together a list of books ideal for creative inspiration for this month’s BAND (Bloggers’ Alliance of Nonfiction Devotees) discussion of books that support goals and resolutions. It was a great idea, and I’ve had a blast this past weekend going through the books on my shelves, picking out the most creativity-inspiring books!

One of my intentions for 2012 is to be more creative – and to add a nice dose of commitment to this intention, I also signed up for the Creative Every Day challenge. I’ve been doing fairly well with this “be creative” goal of mine, but one thing I’ve discovered: it’s much easier to do something creative every day if I prepare myself for creativity.

Preparation for creativity requires two things: materials, and inspiration. It’s easy to get together the materials you need, once you’ve been inspired. So creative inspiration is key!

These are all books I pulled from my bookshelves; some of them I’ve read, some of them have been hanging around waiting (often for quite a while) for me to read them. I spent the weekend looking through a huge pile of books (I am notorious for being unable to resist these kinds of books) and ended up with this list of ten creativity-inspiring books.

1. 52 Projects: Random Acts of Everyday Creativity, by Jeff Yamaguchi

52 Projects: Random Acts of Everday Creativity

52 Projects is the companion book to the 52 Projects website. It’s worth reading through the projects because even when a project doesn’t particularly tempt you, you might find yourself coming up with appealing variations on the theme. Here’s one for book lovers (who aren’t adverse to writing in books, that is!):

Write in the margins of your books. Underline your favorite passages. Then, make sure to donate the books, or sell them to a used bookstore, to put them back into circulation.

2. Journal Bliss: Creative prompts to unleash your inner eccentric, by Violette

Journal Bliss

This glossy, colorful book is filled with ideas for your journal – if you’ve never incorporated art into your daily journal, you’ll come away with ideas for some fun things to liven up your pages. What I liked best about this book is its emphasis on doodling and drawing. I love the idea of creating my own fanciful lettering, too. And here’s something I could definitely make use of:

Start a file, box or scrapbook of flourishes and interesting doodles that you like clipped from magazines, junk mail or catalogs. Then, refer to your inspiration collection whenever you need ideas for your own doodles.

3. Caffeine for the Creative Mind: 250 Exercises to Wake Up Your Brain, by Stefan Mumaw and Wendy Lee Oldfield

Caffeine for the Creative Mind

This thick little paperback is beautifully designed and great for just flipping open whenever you’re in need of a bit of creative inspiration. While the book is meant for graphic designers, it’s easy to change things up and transform the design-related exercises into art or writing ones. There are lots of photography prompts, too, for those days when you just want to play around with your digital camera.

Here’s one for those who love the zombie genre:

As any sane person will tell you, there will be a time when the area we currently live in will be overrun by hordes of flesh-craving zombies. Naturally, we have all prepared for this inevitability, correct? Of course we have. The task today, in case this vital piece of preparation has eluded your usually comprehensive safety regimen, is to devise your zombie survival plan.

4. Living Out Loud: Activities to Fuel a Creative Life, by Keri Smith

Living Out Loud

Not only is this colorfully illustrated book filled with fun creative activities, there are also pages for you to write on or doodle in, game boards, fold-out pages and even sheets of stickers. It reminds me of a kid’s fun book – for adults!

Recipe Box of Secrets: Be your own research project

We are all collectors at heart. Creating a Box of Secrets gives you the chance to explore and to research things that will help you see the big picture when you need perspective.

5. The Write-Brain Workbook: 366 exercises to liberate your writing, by Bonnie Neubauer

Write-Brain Workbook

Unlike most books of writing exercises, The Write-Brain Workbook is designed to be written in. The pages are colorful and visually appealing, and each exercise also includes a bonus exercise entitled “Take the Next Step”. While you can read through the exercises from beginning to end, it’s definitely a book to flip open to a random page and ready, set … GO! Here’s the exercise I opened the page to just now:

You are a disgruntled Tooth Fairy. You can’t understand why Santa and even the Easter Bunny get more attention than you. You just visited twins who expected $20 per tooth. Start with: “I can’t believe …”

6. The Imagineering Workout, by The Disney Imagineers

The Imagineering Workout

The Imagineering Workout is filled with creativity tips from members of Disney’s Imagineering team. (Even a stroll through all the job titles is fun; can you imagine being a “visioning consultant”?!) Direct from the “How to use this book” page:

The Imagineering Workout is designed for those who are interested in shaping and toning their creative muscles. It’s written from the collective practice, wit, and wisdom of over one hundred Imagineers – each creative and yet each different in their creative expression. As a result, this book is a collection of exercises, note cards, write-in cards, jotted notes, journal pages, and illustrations that capture aspects of the creative process and routines Imagineers use daily to keep their creative muscles in the best of condition.

7. The Creative License, by Danny Gregory

The Creative License

The Creative License is all about living a more creative life, and Danny Gregory shows you how by focusing on drawing and journaling. The book is motivating and inspiring; it reminds you, you can do it. Here’s what I know: It really doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to draw – drawing is a skill that can be learned. I know this because I didn’t know how to draw. And then one day, I decided to learn. And it was fun. And then I stopped drawing. Now I’m ready to start again. If I can learn to draw, you can too!

We’re going to start by developing one of your creative skills. It’s a skill that you had when you were small but now almost certainly think you have lost. It’s a skill that will immediately begin to stretch your mind, to transform how you see the world. It’s a skill that takes minutes to learn but a lifetime to master.

You are going to learn to draw.

Yikes! (Gulp!)

8. Creative Is A Verb: If you’re alive, you’re creative, by Patti Digh

Creative Is a Verb

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know I’m in love with index cards. I use them in my writing, I use them to jot down quotes, I use them to brainstorm. In Patti Digh’s Creative Is a Verb, you journey back to your creativity with a few simple materials: a black pen, and a stack of 3X5 unlined index cards. And the Creative Challenge exercises come in two versions: word and image. So whether you’re a writer or an artist, there’ll be something in here to fill your creative well.

This is a book about waking up to the beauty around you – the beauty of seeing more and living more deeply. What emerges from that equation is art. Not Art with a capital A. That kind of Art scares me because it takes us out of the doing (writing to write, painting to paint) and right into performance, comparison, sales. I’m talking about art with no capital. The art that is your life. Artfulness that only you can create, that is uniquely, incredibly yours.

9. The Crafter’s Devotional: 365 days of tips, tricks, and techniques for unlocking your creative spirit, by Barbara R. Call

The Crafter's Devotional

Don’t worry if you’re not very crafty; I’m not (I’m a menace around glue guns), and opening The Crafter’s Devotional at random, I came across lots of things that inspired me. Even the crafty techniques that are sprinkled throughout the book are doable – fun for creative self-challenges (although you may have to research specific techniques a bit if you’re not familiar with the process involved). And there are more than craft techniques here; you’ll also find lots of quotes, artist interviews, creativity prompts and entries that just make you think and engage.

Revisit Childhood Crafts: Today’s task should be a fun trip down memory lane. Visit your favorite craft, toy, or art store and buy a kit for a craft you used to do as a kid. It could be bead looming, a miniature potter’s wheel, paper dolls, or sequin art. It may not look exactly like you remember, and the materials may have changed, but try to find a kit that resembles something you liked as a little child.

Buy the kit, take it home, and do the craft.

10. Drawing Lab for Mixed-Media Artists : 52 creative exercises to make drawing more fun, by Carla Sonheim

Drawing Lab

This is probably the book I’ll turn to the most this year for the Creative Every Day challenge. There are a ton of creative project ideas in the drawing exercises in Drawing Lab, and best of all, your drawing skills will improve as you work your way through the book. I think this is also a great book for choosing something creative randomly. Flip it open and see what you find.

One suggestion I loved was Doodling on Steroids. You’ll need ten pre-selected drawing implements (markers, pens, pencils – anything that you can doodle with) and an audiobook (yes! an audiobook!). Here’s what you do: doodle while you’re listening to the audiobook. Don’t concentrate on what you’re doodling; focus on your audiobook. Switch your drawing tool every minute or so, making use that you use all ten of your drawing tools.

When your book or podcast is over, take some time to study your doodle drawing. You will likely learn some things about yourself, such as that you like purple or you are drawn to patterns and shapes more than to identifiable objects. These types of insights can be valuable as you endeavor to tease out your individual style.

These books are great fun to have around, and very inspiring. What titles would you recommend for living a more creative life?

April Sparks – Blogging From A to Z in April

As I had mentioned a few weeks ago, I’ve taken the plunge and signed up for the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge.

We’re nearing the middle of the month, so April will be here pretty soon. And I’ve been thinking a bit more about my posts for April.

So far, I’ve created my writing prompt cards – they’re all printed out, and I have about 2/3rds of them in sheets still, waiting for me to cut into the proper sized cards.

I’ve also created a whole bunch of “archetype” cards. They include not just archetypal characters, but also symbols and events.

I haven’t gotten very far with my Inspiration Deck (read: pictures) but I still have a couple of weeks to get together a nice stack of cards for this deck.

So now I’ve been thinking, what am I going to do with all of these cards and decks?

I’d written, in my last post about this challenge, “in April, I will do something creative for each day’s post, based on a prompt, some inspiration cards and the letter of the day.”

But I’ve been trying to refine what that “something creative” will be. And I think I know!

IDEAS!

Only, I’m not going to write down the ideas that come to me. Instead, I’ll write snippets of scenes, dialogues, characters and (fingers crossed) the occasional short story. (I say “fingers crossed” because, aside from the one I wrote back in January, I’ve not written a short story since before the kids were born. The oldest is now in university, so that tells you something, time-wise.)

I’m never one to be short on ideas, but I very rarely sit down and focus on creatively generating ideas. I really like the idea of deliberately being open to ideas in this way; it feels like a creative stretching exercise, the kind of thing I’ve been missing in my life.

Well, okay, what it really sounds like to me is: FUN!

And even more than that. Right now, I’m courting a new phase in my life: Trust the process. Learning to “trust the process” applies to every area of my life, but even more so in my writing. Blogging from A to Z in this way feels like a soft, gentle method of easing into that trust.

Inspiration Monday: Love, Prompts and Comments

I’ve been thinking a lot about inspiration lately. And since this is January, the month of fresh starts, I’m coming up with a lot of new intentions. One of these intentions is living an inspired life.

I love feeling inspired; too often inspiration tends to come when I’m deep in deadlines (like I am this month). But I’d love for inspiration to come no matter what I’m doing. So I’m setting a soft, gentle intention to be inspired every day.

Not that I’m committing to anything, but it occurred to me that a regular weekly post about inspiration might help me with this new intention. And what better day to write about inspiration than Mondays!

The Love Project

image

One of my favorite bloggers, Judy Clement Wall, has embarked on The Love Project, and she invites all of us to participate along with her.

“I want to spend one whole year consciously, unabashedly, fearlessly spreading the love. It sounds easy and, of course, it should be. What’s easier than love, right? But I  know better. I know how life, and bad guys, and deadlines, and sleep deprivation can get in the way of good intentions, so I sat down and mapped it all out – a new way of spreading the love for every month in 2011.

January is the month of “spontaneous connection.” My goal is to spontaneously connect with someone new every day.”

This sounds like such a delicious idea to me! In her first follow-up post about The Love Project, Judy’s shared what the first ten days of The Love Project has felt like (in a nutshell – magic!); she’s also posted the calendar she’s mapped out for her year of love.

(Photo Credit)

Writing Improvement Tools

I posted last week about Janel’s fabulous Bowl of Inspiration – it’s a special bowl she made that’s filled with writing prompts. Last week, Janel wrote another fabulous post that gave me such inspiration: Writing Improvement Tools 2011.

I’ll be making my own Inspiration Bowl (it will be more of a Writing Inspiration Box, because I have this soft spot in my heart for beautiful boxes). I love Janel’s Idea a Day concept, and plan on doing it with my Writing Inspiration Box beside me.

(Did you notice the future tense of the previous paragraph? Unfortunately, I have so many work deadlines lined up for January, I’m not sure when I can put all of these wonderful inspirational ideas of mine into being.)

Art Prompts

I wrote previously about my intention that 2011 be my year of creativity. It’s been a long time since I last dived into art making; my paints and papers have been calling to me for a while, and up until recently, I’ve been ignoring them.

But I’m ready now to get back into art making. This past weekend we took down all the holiday decorations, and while we were putting them all away in our storage room, I decided it was high time I pulled all my art supplies out of storage. So we did – four big Rubbermaid bins filled to the brim with paper, paints and pastels, embellishments, glues. I’m going to have so much fun going through them!

And to top things off, I came across this post about Art Prompts at Cloth Paper Scissors (one of my favorite art making magazines).

Writing prompts, art prompts – I’m all set for a creative 2011!

Commenting Fun

Blogging can be so inspiring too, and it’s so much fun finding new blogs and making comments on posts that call to you. So last week, I decided to sign up for the Comment Challenge 2011. Yes, it started last week, but I don’t think it’s too late to start. I signed up but then a deadline stepped in, so I haven’t done as much commenting as I’d planned – but there’s always today, right?

Tumblr Inspirations

bluemoon A few months ago, when I was at the start of my really busy work season (aka deadlines upon deadlines upon deadlines), I realized I needed to make sure I had some time just for me every day. Even if it was only a few minutes.

I came up with this solution: I created a Tumblr blog. It’s filled with beautiful pictures I reblog from other Tumblr users, plus I post the occasional quote that I come across and love.

So here it is: BelleEnchanted Inspirations.

And Tumblr-ing is so easy! Once I got the blog set up, it really only takes me a few minutes a day, and I come across so much beauty, it helps set the tone for my entire day.

As a bonus, I only ever do my Tumblr-ing from my iPhone! So I’m not even stuck at the computer while I’m doing this.

(Photo Credit: artwork is mine)

Snowy Walk

Snowy Walk

I was in a bit of a funk yesterday, so last night, my husband and I decided to get all bundled up and go for a walk around the block. It’s been quite cold here in Toronto, but we’ve also had beautiful sunny days, and last night was a gorgeous wind-free night.

We had such a good time, we’ve decided to try and get out for a walk together on a more regular basis. It was good to see the stars and the lights inside and outside our neighbors’ houses and watch our breath puff into the night air.

(Photo Credit)

***********************

So these are the inspirational links, thoughts and ideas that filled my life this past week. What about you? What inspirational things have you come across?

[TSS] My Year of Creativity

I’m not one to make resolutions – they just don’t work for me. And perhaps it’s a matter of semantics; “resolutions” and “resolve” have a hard-edged feel for me, and I much prefer the softer ease of “intention”.

So at the beginning of each new year, I like to make some general intentions for the days ahead.

Last year was my year of authenticity. And this soft, gentle intention had a great deal to do with 2010 being a very pivotal year for me. It was a year during which I got to know myself a lot better – who I really am, and what I really want out of life.

I didn’t exactly enjoy all the lounging-around-on-the-sofa-feeling-sick time I spent during Christmas week last week, but in some ways it was a gift; I had lots of time to look back over the past year, and look forward to the new year – and see what my general intentions are for 2011.

Despite flagging energy, I came up with a lot of ideas (many of which I’d actually been nursing during the deadline-driven months of November and December). And all these ideas gelled together and pointed in one general direction:

create

2011 is my year of creativity.

I’ve missed being creative. Last year, I added writing back into my life, and it has been a very joyful experience. But there’s more to what I want out of life than the writing. There are a lot of things that interest me, and this year, I’m giving myself permission to enjoy exploring and playing with all the things that catch my fancy.

So this means:

More Writing. But I’m not going to narrowly define “writing” anymore. I’m going for the everything-including-the-kitchen-sink approach. So that means not just novels and short stories, but playing around with writing prompts, writing essays, and (this is very tentative indeed!) more regular blogging here.

Janel has been my inspiration when it comes to my writing intentions. I am totally in love with her bowl of inspiration, and plan to pair it with this other idea I got from her blog – coming up with a story idea a day.

More Art. Once upon a time (read: pre-Dylan, my seven-year-old), I actually spent a great deal of time mucking about playing with paints and glue and paper and clay. I was never particularly good, but for me, making art isn’t about the end result, it’s about the process.

I’m going to start slowly; right now, I’m contemplating the idea of a Zentangle a day, or, more accurately, a Zentangle mandala. I found this great video on YouTube which makes me want to reach for my set of Pigma Micron pens and just do it – except, I don’t have a set anymore. So a trip to the art store is in order!

I’d also like to learn how to create digital art; I bought the Sketchbook Pro app for my iPad, and have a stylus on its way to me (in the same package as that Bluetooth keyboard I mentioned yesterday).

And digital photography! Molly posted today about her interest in photography, not just as a memory keeping device, but as a form of artistic expression. Photography is something I’ve been interested in ever since I was a teenager; I’ve just never made the interest much of a priority before.

More Reading. I also intend to read a lot more – for me, reading is a very creative thing. It’s rare for me to put down a book without it having stimulated an avalanche of new ideas. But this year, I’d like to add interesting non-fiction back into my TBR stacks as well.

For many years, after I had my kids, I read nothing but nonfiction, because fiction was just too gripping and I didn’t have the time to give to it (if you’ve ever found yourself having a really hard time putting down a novel, but it’s inching really close to 2 in the morning and you have to get up in a handful of hours to get the kids off to school, you’ll know what I mean).

So a few years ago, I made the decision to let myself read more fiction again, and I am so very glad I did. The more I read, the more I find myself itching to write. At the same time, though, fiction doesn’t quite appease my curiosity about things the way a very good non-fiction book can. So I’d like to have both types of reading in my life.

I suspect the Kindle app on my iPad is going to play a huge role in my reading life this year as well. It has been so easy reading on it (I recently finished Kathy Reich’s Virals, a real page-turner, and am in the middle of Naughty: 9 Tales of Christmas Crime, by Steve Hockensmith), and I’ve been finding myself looking through the Kindle store feeling very, very tempted by the selections there.

Morning Pages, My Way. I’m contemplating writing Morning Pages again; they were a part of my daily practice for about eight years, but I found myself outgrowing them. This time around, I’d like to do them with an added twist – I’d like to use them as a way to hold a conversation with myself, the deep-down-me who often gets buried in the unintentional busy-ness of life.

Meditation. And finally, there’s the meditation. I find it terribly challenging sometimes to quiet my mind (as you can probably imagine, by the length of my blog posts …) But I’d really, really like to incorporate meditation into my daily practice.

As a gift to myself, I bought a copy of Abraham-Hicks’ Getting into the Vortex Guided Meditation meditations; there are four 15 minute meditations on the CD, and 15 minutes is SO much easier to manage. It’s like the short timed writing goal for me – it’s nearly impossible for that naysayer part of me to tell me “you don’t have time for that”.

So these are all the things I’m looking forward to doing and being in 2011. What about you? Do you make resolutions? Mini-goals? What has worked (and not worked) for you in the past when it comes to new year changes in your life?