April 11, 2011

A common complaint from writers:

"I have nothing to write about!"
Most every writer out there, at some point or another, will utter this complaint. My response to this is:
"I don't believe you!" (My friends love me for being so sympathetic.)
But seriously, look around you! There is always, always something you can write about if you know how to look. I'm not saying that you should necessarily write about every little mundane detail of your life (unless of course your life is exceptionally fascinating), but I am saying that there are stories, scenes, and little dramas that unfold right in front of us every day if we're paying enough attention to see them. Here are some fun examples from my own life just this past week.
Monday afternoon my cell phone rang. I answered it to hear my friend Joe say "Hi, Mary. Would you be able to cut my hair this afternoon?"
I paused and said "Um... what?"
"Oh," he said, "I have the wrong Mary, don't I?"
Write about a similar mistake and something that happens as a result.
Friday morning I was at a church working with a home-school group and glanced out the window just in time to see a kid ride past on a Rip-Stick, waving a foam sword over his head at the same time.
Write the story behind that scene.
Friday afternoon on my way home I saw a man walking down the sidewalk carrying a to-go meal in a paper bag, a gas can, and a newspaper.
Write about why he's carrying that particular combination of items.
Saturday my family's cows got out and took off at a dead run down the road--twice. Then, while baking bread, I got my hand into the stove's heating element and had to be taken to Urgent Care. That left my sixteen-year-old brother to make and bake the cinnamon rolls that I had rising at the time. They tasted fine, they were just a bit... shall we say, large and shapeless?
Write about a chain of random disasters.
There is an amazing amount of writing material built into the world around us, waiting to be used. Granted, the microwave bursting into flames may not be the inspiration for your next novel, and the basement flooding may not win any short story awards. But they just might get your creative juices flowing again, and that is what matters. Because writers write. Other people make excuses.


  1. I like that. "Writers write. Other people make excuses."
    But in all honesty, not all of us have a...shall we say, as varied and trialed life as you? ;) Although I suppose I could chronicle my own various kitchen disasters, which, without someone at home all the time, tend to be some what interesting...
    Sorry about your hand, BTW. OUCH!

  2. I love the image of the boy with the foam sword--and inspired by Doctor Who, I am already weaving a tale of a boy who can see the invisible monster


What are your thoughts on this post? I'd love to hear your comments, questions, or ideas, even if you don't agree with me. Please be aware that I reserve the right to delete comments that are uncivil or vulgar, however.