Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Gone Fishing

This morning I went fishing for the first time since moving to Georgia. The freshwater methods and fish carried me back to childhood as I stared at the sunlight reflecting like rippling silver petals on the lake. A number of people came to mind...good times...funny times...people long dead. One thing I enjoy about fishing is that it gives me quality thinking time. Quality thinking time leads to all kinds of ideas. Ideas are the fabric of stories, both fiction and non-fiction.

Take the time to get away from your computer, TV, telephone (Yes, even your cell phone) and walk, fish, bike...think! Jot down ideas that come to you. When you get home, pick one to write about. When you take the time to "fish" for ideas, you usually "catch" a good story.

If you feel like you're drawing a total blank, do this exercise:

Sit with a piece of paper and write down a childhood experience. From there, write down the first thing that comes to your mind, and repeat this process for 2-5 minutes. For example:

  • Pulling a loose tooth
  • angry nun
  • riding the bus
  • favorite lunch box
  • the magic of Santa
  • walking to school
  • moving in 7th grade
  • being flat chested
  • school uniforms
  • first car

Okay, you get the idea. As a reader, you won't begin to understand the thread that connects these items. Who would think a loose tooth could lead to a first car! I call it mining for memories. What I want you to do with this list is to pull one idea and write about it. Your piece can be fiction or non-fiction. Have fun.

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