Sunday, March 12, 2006

Finding Creative Ways to Clear Writer’s Block—Part 2

Last time I talked about free writing and associated methods to break writer’s block. This time I’ll tell you how to use writing prompts to spark your creativity.

One of the tools I love to use is the starter sentence. The Writers’ Journal is a great resource for starter sentences. In their contest section, they have a contest called “Write to Win.” One of the requirements is that you use one of their starter sentences, such as “The lemonade was…” or “It was a small box, but…” These sentences, or sentence beginnings, don’t give you a topic, but forcing yourself to write around them can give you the push you need to get out of your writing quagmire. The exercise of completing each sentence starter in several ways will force your brain to start coming up with new ways of looking at a scene. For instance, let’s take the lemonade sentence:

  • The lemonade was acrid, and bitter to the taste.
  • The lemonade was cool and refreshing on the lazy Georgia afternoon.
  • The lemonade was an acidic reminder of his lost childhood.

Even if you don’t enter the contest, this exercise can be invaluable for putting a fire under your writing. Once you see the possibilities for many plots from one sentence, your brain will be cooking up those plots in no time. If you don’t enter the contest, you don’t need to keep that starter sentence when you’re done—it may no longer fit your story. Still, you owe it a debt for the part it played in getting the process started.

By the way, I’m using a fiction example here, but there’s no reason you can’t use it for nonfiction. An even tougher challenge is to take the same starter sentence and use it to begin both a fiction and nonfiction piece. Try it with the lemonade sentence, and you’ll see what I mean.

One other way to use a starter sentence is to have a friend or loved one come up with the sentence for you. The rest of the process is the same.

In another post, I’ll show you a little of what I did with the lemonade sentence. If you like, post your first paragraph and let us all see how you used the idea. I’d love to read the various, creative plots you come up with!

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viv mackie said...

I love the idea of the starter sentences.
(Got your blog address from Worldwide Freelance)

Jasonmark said...

A Book- especially for creativity block- Creative Painting For The Young Artist