Today is my daughter Mindy's 38th birthday. Wow, is that hard to believe. I'll call her at 10:00 a.m., the time she was born. That's been my practice for years. My daughter Deanne was born at 5:30 a.m. That's a little harder to do, but I manage. So, Mindy, happy birthday with all my love.
I loved Debbie's post on Friday. Loved the old photo, which could be such an inspiration for a novel, as several of you pointed out. Imagination is such an amazing thing. There's no end to the things that inspire our imaginations, which are truly a gift from our creative God. A few weeks ago, Katy made the comment that writing is very close to dreaming. While I don't dream a lot -- or if I do, I don't remember the dreams -- that time just before sleep is the time my imagination is most engaged, particularly when I'm in the thick of writing a novel. It's a very creative time for me. I look forward to it as though it's the dessert to the end of my day.
Debbie's post got me thinking about writing exercises, like taking a photo and writing an opening paragraph for the story it inspires. Or perhaps writing an entire synopsis. Warm-up exercises are an important part to any number of endeavors. Athletes do them before they run that big race, or play that big game. Musicians do them to limber their fingers. Singers do them to prepare their vocal chords. And many writers do them as well to get the creative juices flowing.
I admit I often skip the exercises at the end of the chapters in the writing books I read, even my favorite ones, like Jim Scott Bell's Plot & Structure, which is a great resource and has some fine writing exercises to drive home the lessons he teaches. The Scene Book: A Primer for the Fiction Writer by Sandra Scofield is another good resource. It too has good exercises at the end of the chapters. So why do I skip them? True confession: It's a combination of laziness and a desire to move on to the next chapter.
But some exercises can be fun, even turned into a game if you approach it the right way. For example, Dragon Writing Prompts, a blog for fantasy and science fiction writers, has this prompt: "...drop a letter from a book, movie, play song, TV show to come up with a new title. Then add on a short plot summary that is, preferably, related in a twisted way to the original." They give some examples: "The Velveteen Rabbi, Huckleberry Inn, Little Omen, Planet of the Aps." You get the idea.
Another terrific resource for writing prompts is found at writersdigest.com. There are exercises like The Tooth Fairy is a Thief, The Ghost of Your Grandmother, Note Behind the Picture. Are you up for the challenge? Can you give us a creative title by dropping or adding a letter to an existing title, then writing a brief plot for the story? Or will you go so far as to write an opening sentence/paragraph for one of the Writers Digest prompts? How do you feel about writing exercises? Do you skip them, or do you enjoy the opportunity to stretch your brain? Where do your best ideas for your creative writing come from?