14 July 2008

Seeking Inspiration: Writing from the Scraps of Life

For those who are not aware, I'm also a scrapbooker. I've always collected bits and scraps of my life as memories, and now that I've begun scrapbooking, I have a way to put them all together in an attractive way instead of keeping them in a shoebox in my closet.
I recently finished my wedding scrapbook, and as I was putting together the pages over the past couple of weeks, I had to stop every so often, open my jotting journal (a journal I use to jot notes and ideas), and make a few notes about story ideas that kept coming to mind. I filled half a dozen pages of story ideas, characters, and relationships from the memories of my wedding day as I used acid-free adhesive to paste down embellishments and matting. (Once I finish this freelance gig I'll be starting a couple of character sketches based on my recent notes.)
I know I would've gotten through the scrapbook sooner if I'd saved my notes until I was finished with the whole thing and gone through it as a whole, but I couldn't bring myself to do that. So I scribbled while I waited for glue to dry or while I was thinking about how to cut certain matting or what color cardstock to use.

It was strange, really, that I got more ideas putting together my wedding scrapbook than I did at Anderson Gardens when I was there a few years ago, and I usually take lots of notes at Anderson Gardens.

Life is the stuff of stories.

So when your muse is out to lunch and you're on a deadline, why wouldn't you turn to the scraps of your own life for inspiration? It's close at hand, it's something about which you can write with true emotion based on first-hand experience. How better can you write to touch lives than by writing about the people and events that touched yours?

In my post "So You Think You're a Poet? Part One: Imagery," I talked about poetry being an experience. Prose is similar in that it should be an experience, and it's created by drawing a connection between reader and writer. And writing to create an experience can be done by drawing on your own experiences to create vivid moments and characters that touch readers because they, too, have experienced what you have, or met a character you use as an inspiration.
If you find you're struggling to come up with something to type (or write), I recommend going through your journals, looking back through photo albums, scrapbooks, or going through that memento box that is home to the ticket stubs from your first movie date, the love letter your significant other wrote that made you cry, and the broken piece of sand dollar you found during your first trip to the beach. You never know what might come out of it.

Happy scribbling!

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