I feel like I haven't blogged in a thousand years which equates to several months in the real world. Given the tornado that has been my life, I am happy to report that I am back on solid ground and happy as a clam...most days. As a writer, work has always been a wonderful thermometer in terms of diagnosing my general state of being. Simply put, when my life is in balance, I write well and I write often. When matters are in a disarray, new work suffers.
As things have fallen back into place, ideas sprout randomly, and I don't always have the time or energy to turn them into full-fledged stories, so I developed a list of quick and easy ways to capture these ideas without technically sitting down and writing a story. All of the tips and tricks utilize the growing number of websites designed to harness creativity and present the user with an accessible final product. These nontraditional story methods are also highly useful in the classroom when trying to prod reluctant writers to craft a tale.
Pinterest - Snag pictures and generate a visual story. It's quick, easy, and serves as a wonderful graphic outline once you are ready to put the narrative into writing. There is also a lovely new feature allowing users to construct a Secret Board which preserves your privacy and reduces the pressure of creating something immediately worthy of the world at large.
Smash Book - These journals can be purchased at both craft and department stores (and I've found a few orphan books on super clearance at TJ Maxx!) Click here to see one in action, but essentially it's a journal with eccentric, prepopulated design pages and a handy pen/glue stick to write and adhere all of your story ideas. I also find that the pages themselves often inspire me. I'm currently planning a novel and devoting one page per chapter with all sorts of artifacts and notes.
Twitter - Twitterfiction is on the rise as authors, both emerging and veteran, are tweeting stories. (See Jennifer Egan's BlackBox here, with subscription.) A private Twitter feed also allows you to brainstorm a story in tiny bits and pieces. This is particularly helpful when you've got the chronology down but want to look at the story as a brief outline without the meat on the bones. Get the Twitter app on your phone to facilitate updating ideas at the grocery store, the dentist office, or the park.
8tracks.com - This website allows you to create a personalized soundtrack, and if we've learned anything from Nick Hornby and High Fideltiy, sometimes a top ten list can clarify and make the story. Select songs that inspire you, slap them all together, and decide on a narrative afterwards.
Trippy- Substitute any favorite travel site here. All you need is a character, perhaps an old favorite who maybe hasn't fit into a story. Send them somewhere interesting, and plan a vacation. Exploring new territories, arranging an itinerary, and even looking for the right hotels, might spark your creative juices. Where would be the perfect destination for a murder? A wedding? A suicide? A birthday?
TheKnot - Plan a wedding, fill a registry with bizarre items, or just imagine a couple putting together their lives. Tell the story in objects, perhaps a mismatch between two mismatched people or the perfect coupling. This is best when describing the story of two.
Project Decor - Start with the setting rather than character. Plan the perfect room, and as you populate it decide what sort of person lives inside. Just the act of designing a home often unlocks hidden creativity.
Obviously there are a million other sites that would fit the bill when trying a nontraditional story construct. Explore the internet, free youself from pen and paper, and see what you can do! Happy writing.