Resolution Friday: So another week of changing the ordinary has come and gone. I’ve read for pleasure every day, which was by far the easiest of my resolutions. I also read more Susan Shapiro Only as Good as Your Word and am still laughing out loud. Lastly, I wrote another wacky family memoir. You can read it here.
So, it’s a new week, and I’ve been given much to think about. Thanks to Kristen Lamb’s blog and a few others I’ll be adding as a mash up, I’ve been challenging myself to think about how I blog and how I write. It’s natural to go with what you know, and most of what I’ve known has been write-your-ass-off-and-pray. Ooooooooooooom. But Kristen says I can’t do it that way, and I believe her. So, that means hunker down and get ready for a bumpy (best new year) of your life.
So if you’re like me, beginning to write again after a hiatus in sales, may I recommend Preparation. Preparation is that thing you do before you actually have to do it. It’s meant to help you, seriously. It’s where you can lay all of your pretty little ideas out like paper dolls and mix and match their clothes to see what works and what doesn’t. Hey, lay off my metaphors, I told you I’m in sales, and yah it’s retail! But, Preparation offers you several options, ones you can see in advance, and it gives you time to craft the end result. For example, do I want to wear the sequin top with the plaid wool skirt and capri leggings? Repeat after me, NO! But that sequin top looks great next to those dark wash denim jeans and metallic flats. What’s that? You’re adding hoop earrings in a brushed bronze metal? I LOVE IT!!! Metaphor aside, take time to write down ideas for both blogging and writing. Plan ahead for both when you will write and what you will write. Otherwise, you’ll start blogging some remake version of “The Night Before Christmas,” oh wait, I already did that.
If you’re having trouble figuring out how to start a story, try making a list of things you like, or character traits about a friend or family member. Does anything on that list remind you of a good story you would tell someone in conversation? Now how would you tell it if you were writing it for someone? Take all the ideas that come to you and write them down. What pieces seem to fit together in a fresh and exciting way?
If you’re still struggling with idea starters, here is a list of ideas I came up with for future memoirs, or even an essay collection, if you titled it, Things My Dad Has Done to Freak Me Out.
- Incessantly sneak up on me from behind and scream “What are ya doin’?!”
- Innocently spell my name wrong on my birthday cake, for the last 20 years
- Pushed me into a man dressed like a Troll, and cried “Take her!”
- Left me in a haunted house by myself
- Left me in a corn maze by myself
- Left me buried in the snow by myself
- Forced me to learn to ride a bike without training wheels
- Forced me to learn to swim without swimming lessons
- Hid a creepy plastic nativity scene donkey in my bedroom
- Got me to eat gravy that had giblets in it
What are you waiting for? Get writing!
Ok, Christmas is over, and it’s time to stop lollygagging about the house in my pajamas and supersoft socks with rubber grips on the bottom. Yep, that zombie with a cold and mug of green tea you’ve been seeing around your house is me. Sorry for wiping snot on your sofa.
To jumpstart my writing goals for the new year I wanted to come up with some action plans and creativity projects that will help my writing. After reading through a new post on creative writing prompts by Michelle Locke I decided what better way to feel renewed than some good old fashioned word games! Hold on, I need to shove another kleenex up my nose. *blow*
Where was I? To date, I’ve successfully begun one of the books I picked up on writing. It’s a book on journaling, which I already do, but I thought it would contain some prompts. To go back to my original resolution, I’d like to try a new goal for writing each week and record its helpfulness in this blog, starting with writing prompts. This week, every day I will do a different writing prompt and record how long I was able to do it and what writing tools I felt it strengthened. I have a few prompt ideas in mind, but send me some of your favorites, I’ll try really hard not to get vicks vapor rub on them. *blow*
I’ve been brainstorming some ideas on what to try. Here is what I have come up with: changing my workspace, changing the times I write, timed writing, making picture boards, only writing on my lunch hour, playing scrabble for a week, only eating foods that begin with the letter ‘W’ (water chestnuts? watermelon? worchestshore sauce? hmm, take that off my list). I’ll keep brainstorming and let you know how it goes. In the meantime, I’d love to hear what your favorite writing routines or prompts are.
And today’s game is: The Six Word Memoir! This is a new favorite of mine, and if you’re unfamiliar with the story of Ernest Hemingway’s said memoir it goes like this. Guy walks into a bar, bets Ernest Hemingway he can’t write a story in only 6 words, Hemingway accepts the challenge. Scribbles for a bit, then reads, “For Sale, Baby shoes. Never worn.”
Here are the memoirs I came up with today.
Boyfriend hates hairy legs. Big deal!
Seriously, playing badminton gave me tendonitis.
Coffee? Check. Body in basement? Check.
“Cookies at bedtime? Again, Mr. Clause?!”
Tomorrow. The transplant would be tomorrow.
I should probably learn to swim.
The car driving away. He’d left.
Cake batter for breakfast. My roommate.
Three hours making cookies. Never again.
I saw you in the cemetery.
The best invention ever made: kleenex.
Last night I was visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Writing.
It all started when I came home around 1 am from work (oh yes, I’m in retail). I changed into my pajamas, turned on a terrible on demand movie and began victoriously dominating my second bag of chips for the week. In fact, other than a few stray peas in my fried rice, no vegetable has touched my lips in the last six days! Hmm, that’s bad, isn’t it?
Anyway, I must have dozed off, because the next thing I hear is a bunch of moaning and chain clattering behind me. I twist my head around and there is my best friend, Drakob Farley, all blue and dead and dragging an iron ball behind him.
“Drakob, what’s up? I thought you died; it’s great to see you!” I said.
And he’s all like, “Jessiiii, you haven’t been true to your writinggggg! You’ve forgotton the passionnnn and voice inside youuuuu!”
“Who has the time, man? I’m working 60 hours a week as a human punching bag for last minute Christmas shoppers! I just don’t have the strength anymore. Cut me some slack, Drak!”
“You will be visited by the Ghosts of Christmasss Writinggg. Take heeeed, they will come shortlyyy.”
So now I’m all irritated and grumpy. Stupid Drakob waking me up after only 2 hours of sleep. But the next thing I know, there’s a huge gust of icy wind and I’m freezing! The picture window in front of the couch is wide open and this giant rendition of my favorite middle school english teacher comes breezing in all covered in rags and shaking snow everywhere.
“Jessi, I’m the Ghost of Christmas Writing Past. Why have you forgotten who you are?” She starts throwing all these journals that I’ve kept since seventh grade at me and folders of short stories and poetry I wrote since I was five. One of the journals hits me on the head and knocks me out!
When I come to, we’re sitting in my old room in the house I grew up in. I can see my old self scribbling in a notebook writing a series of poems I dreamed about publishing.
“Do you remember giving me these poems to read?” my teacher/ghost asked.
“Sure I do. I was really proud of those. The series took me all summer. I had elaborate plans to publish them with illustrations by my brother. I even had my mom get me a blank hardcover book so we could sketch out a sample copy.”
“Do not forget your childhood enthusiasm! You know who you are! If you do not change your ways, you will surely suffer.”
With that the dream fades, and I’m back on the couch, blanket pulled up to my nose in a creeped out and scared fashion. Wow, that was weird. No more chips before bed. Better brush my teeth and hit the sack for real.
No sooner than I put the toothpaste and brush in my mouth than the bathroom door starts shaking uncontrollably! Seriously? Again? So soon?!
Bursting through the wood, creating thousands of splintered debris, enters who I can only assume is the Ghost of Christmas Writing Present. With a nod, the ghoulish thing that looks like a publishing agent, but with the face of a gnarly mountain goat, beckons me to follow her. I’m tiptoeing and hopping through the bathroom door damage in my sock feet and when we step through the entranceway I’m half expecting another dreamlike transportation. But no, she nods to me again, and basically we ascend the stairway from the downstairs bathroom and actually just walk ourselves to my room where my computer is on and the few pieces of work I have managed to write are sitting freshly printed out, still warm from the press.
“Yes, I know. It isn’t much, but it’s a start right?” I plead.
She stares at me blankly then begins to eat page after page of my work!
“Stop that! Oh my god, do you have any idea how long that took me?! Give it back!” I began tugging and pulling the pages out of her mouth, but it was too late. My work became a pile of half masticated goat goo.
“I hope you choke on it!” I yelled and crumpled into a ball of blubbering sobs.
When I looked up again, there was a hand extending a tissue out to me and smiling. Ah, the Ghost of Christmas Writing Yet to Come, thank heaven! Finally, she would show me the way of what I needed to do and I’d be able to view the immense success I would surely achieve in the next year or so.
“Oh, sweet Ghost of Christmas Writing Yet to Come, take me to my book signing please! Or to my book tour, if we’re running late. Do I have time to put some make-up on? I just ate a whole bag of chips and I feel downright disgusting. What’s that? No time? Very well, lead on, but please let it be something joyful.”
The ghost wore flowy angel garb and had shiny, wavy hair like in the movies. She didn’t have wings, but she whisked me away flying over the city which looked so peaceful with the twinkling Christmas lights in the snow. When we landed, I was home again at my family’s old house.
“You’ve brought me to my family Christmas? I see, you’re right, it’s important to be with the ones you love at Christmas. Thank you, Spirit.”
Inside, I saw my future self, I looked old and fat. Too many potato chips, I’ll remember that. I was hugging my siblings and we were all talking about what we had been up to the past year. I was impatient to hear myself speak. Surely, I was gifting my entire family with my new, best-selling novel. When I could see it was my turn to answer I gasped. I was still working in retail! I had been transferred from store to store to manage new teams and drive sales! I’d spent the year moving and repeating my coaching methods. I hadn’t written anything at all, not even an annual Christmas letter! This was serious.
“Oh Spirit! Take me away from here! This cannot be my Christmas writing future! I won’t allow it! Just look at my previous blog post and you’ll see that I plan to follow through and work on my writing! I do, I do, I do! Please, Spirit, take me home so I can change my Christmas writing future!”
I awoke back on the couch where I had started the night. I immediately bolted up, threw the blanket to the couch, put the chips in the cupboard (I couldn’t throw them out, one step at a time, spirits!), and grabbed a pen a paper. Today I vowed to figure out the next scene in my story. It all starts with Lydia walking into a snow covered area and being met by the ghost of christmas brainstorming…