Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Plumbers of Writing Creativity

As we've discussed all week, writers sometimes hit a block when they are writing. Either they can't get started or they come to a place where they can't pick the right path to follow. Basically, their creative drains get blocked up. So what do you do when you have a major block - your sink is backed up and water is flowing everywhere? Well, you call the plumber.

What is the writing equivalent? Prompts. Writing prompts. When you can't think of a good idea to save your life, you look for inspiration elsewhere. Many writer's have had the same ideas and compiled these writing starters into great little books which can get the pipe of creativity open and flowing again.

Let me talk about three of my favorites:

The Writer's Block: 786 Ideas to Jump-Start Your Imagination by Jason Rekulak. This is a small book (literally) but it packs quite a punch cause it's about 3 inches thick. You open it to any page and inside you find prompts, little photos, spark words, quotes from writers and more. It's a fascinating collection of ideas which I've found very helpful and I've used over on my personal blog. I love the diverse ideas and fun pics. My only complaint is there is really no organization to it, so I guess it is best used in a random manner. Need an idea, open the book, and write on the idea you find there.

Another book, very similar in idea is The Pocket Muse: ideas & inspirations for writing by Monica Wood. The book has a larger footprint, more like a conventional paperback book, so it is easier to hold. Again there is no organization to it because it is designed to be used as inspiration for creativity and encouragement for the discouraged writer. Most of the pieces are longer and fewer of them are strictly writing prompts. There is a nice mix of photos, quotes, tips for writers, and prompts.

Finally, I've found The Writer's Idea Book by Jack Heffron. I like this one because the prompts ARE organized in a recognizable pattern. There are four parts: Bending and Stretching, Exploring, Finding Form, and Assessing and Developing. Within each part are several chapters which expand on the overall vision for that section. Maybe because I tend to be a little left brained, I like the organization offered here. I can think about an area on which I want to focus then go there to review prompts and ideas. This is an excellent resource.

So there you have it. Somewhere to start when you're blocked. All three of these books can act like a plumber and get your drain unstuck and things moving again. Purchase them for your reference collection, check them out of your local library, or request them through interlibrary loan from another library in your state or throughout the United States.

Why did I talk about this today? Well, as others have mentioned, next week we are going to offer you a little fiction based on the same writing prompt so you'll get some insight into how each of us approach the same scenario. This should be a lot of fun, so please join us for a couple of weeks of crazy creativity here at The Otherworld Diner!


  1. I have never heard of any of these books, but they sound really interesting. I think I'll be making a trip to the library to check them out. Thanks for the tips.

  2. Wow Fran!

    These sound fantastic! I am adding themt o my amazon wish list. Hey! Christmas is coming!!