Thursday, July 30, 2015



Keep your writing ideas, prompts, and starter phrases at your fingertips.   

If you are a writer your cookie jar can become your best friend. 

Scrub out that old cookie jar and sit it on the corner of your desk.

Create your writing prompt 'cookies.'

Print up your writing ideas list, and cut it into strips, each containing a single topic/idea.  Curl them around your pen so they're easy to grab inside the jar, then toss them in. 

Get some help with ideas.

If your ideas list is a little sparse, beef it up a bit by getting yourself a book of writing prompts or starter phrases.  They can be immensely helpful if you just need a spark to get your pen moving or your keyboard clicking at the beginning of the day. 

Make your cookie jar the first stop when you get to your desk.
Every day give the writing cookie jar a shake and draw a slip from it that contains your assignment. No trades, no refusal.  Smile!  The fun is just beginning!  Write down at least two different angles for the story. 

The idea/topic: "They're shooting a movie in my hometown."
1.      Straight article about the movie - director, stars, plot, estimated release date, etc. 
2.      Hometown residents as extras.  Perhaps interview some of them. 
3.      Tourism attraction: puts your town on the map for awhile, especially when it gets mentioned in the film's acknowledgements.  Pros and cons of the attention.  For instance, traffic control, parking for film equipment trucks, out of town onlookers showing up, media attention, etc.  
4.      Why did the writer/producer/director choose your hometown? 
5.      Star-gazing.  Did the stars go out and about?  Where did they go?  What did they do?  "Our Town's Star Picks" can cover hotels, restaurants, shops. 
6.      Did the town get spiffed up or did the production company leave a mess behind? 

There.  Six potential stories out of one topic.  It'll keep you busy for at least three days, maybe a week. 

Make your research work overtime.

When those stories are finished, look over your research before you file it away.  Are there topics unrelated to the hometown movie shoot stories?  Research is a time hog, make every minute you spend on it work double and triple time. 

Part of the time I spend on the Internet every day is to scour news blurbs, trending blurbs, and Facebook and social page commentary for topics.  I write down headlines, with maybe a brief note about the content, for each item that strikes my fancy.  When I have a page of summary sentences I cut them into strips, curl them up and toss them into the jar. 

Your cookie jar prompts can keep your stress-free. 

Using this method of self-assignment keeps you from opening up an ideas notebook or computer file and stressing about what story to work on first. I have a 'writing now' file on my desktop which never has more than three stories in it at the same time.  And usually the third is just waiting for a final polish then submission. 

Go dig out that cookie jar!  Happy writing!


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