Brainstorming – Using a Bad Day

Nov 7, 2014 by

When the phone rang last evening around 5, I wasn’t quite prepared to hear my daughter saying, “Mommy,” in a voice that sounded like she was five again and afraid of the dark.

Immediately my heart plummeted, I sat up straight and said, “Are you OK?”

“Everything’s fine, I’m OK. OK, no, everything’s not fine, but I am OK.”

I taught my kids a long time ago to not keep me in suspense, so letting me know she was fine allowed me to focus on her words than on watching my anxiety skyrocket to the point I would be of little help to her.

The right front axle of her truck broke, the vehicle lurched, lights flashed on the dashboard, but she was able to get to a place of safety. It didn’t happen when she was driving 65 mph (as she had been just moments before on the freeway) and she was right, everything was fine.

Things can be fixed, but people can’t be replaced.

It’s going to be interesting to see how we handle transportation for her. She is in college, living at home, working two jobs to pay for tuition and books. There’s not a lot of give in that kind of budget, but she’s OK.

That’s when I realized we sometimes need these bad days, the kind that hit you hard, cause you to have a real, true emotional reaction that socks you in the gut.

We need them because that’s how we put markers on our life.

“Remember when the tire blew out on the way home from the Christmas tree lot, and Ralph went out to help Dad change the tire and he lost the bolts, leaving Dad searching through the snow, in the dark to find them?”

Oh wait, that’s from the movie, A Christmas Story.

But you get the idea.

Stories that stay with us are the ones with conflict, tears, anger, frustration, rage, sadness, grief.

Having emotions is what makes us know we’re awake and alive in this world.

So it is with brainstorming for your next writing idea.

If you have no conflict, everything’s just happy and joyous and perfect, then your story’s going to be really short. Sure, being happy feels great. But our memory of such happiness fades unless there was conflict prior to that happiness. Think about weddings. Such a happy day, right? How much of that happiness is relief that all the pressures from both families and all your friends are finally over? 

When writing your story, think back to the times when you didn’t get what you want, when life threw you a curve ball, when the axle broke on your truck.

That’s a better place to start writing a story than at then end when everything is resolved. Write about the conflict, the jagged emotions that resulted, the many ways you zigged and zagged as you worked to find  solution.

That’s what people want to know about.

The happy ending is exactly that…The End.


3471 Broken down car

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The Art of Brainstorming

Nov 3, 2014 by

November seems to be a favorite month for writers to challenge themselves in some way.

NaNoWriMo was the first one I was aware of and I have participated in that challenge more years than not ever since it started. I haven’t done much with the manuscripts created, but the very act of writing daily, developing characters, story, back story, arc for both story and characters will never, EVER hurt your writing career!

This year I discovered a new challenge, PiBoIdMo (I know, these become a little funny in trying to determine what they mean…) which stands for Picture Book Idea Month. The idea here is to come up with a new idea every day for a picture book.

It can be fiction.


Your choice.

And Tara Lazar has people writing posts daily to inspire us to be able to do just that…come up with new ideas.  Today’s guest blogger is Kelly Bingham and she shares with us her techniques on brainstorming ideas.  Her post: Kelly Bingham Makes Time and Makes it Count today is brilliant.

Stop by, read it, see if it might not help you get past those blocks that always pop up the instant you come up with a viable idea.

What’s your plan to improve your writing this November?



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Participating in PiBoIdMo

Nov 2, 2014 by

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The Not So Great Escape

Oct 31, 2014 by

I’m deep in the midst of my research of the 1944 escape attempt of 25 German POWs from Papago Park POW camp in the heart of Phoenix, Arizona.

What an ironic situation for Papago Park deep in the Sonoran Desert to be home to a multitude of German U-Boat captains and crew.

As if it weren’t enough of a joke, the map stolen by some of the German prisoners showed the Gila River as a river leading to the Colorado.

Everyone in Arizona knew that most rivers on the map were either dry river beds or nothing more than a series of puddles.

The idea of rafting or kayaking away to safety disappeared in a hoot of laughter, and then tears from the three crazy boatmen who believed that all rivers were filled with water.

There is so much to learn from the mentality of people who have had their freedom taken from them. For the most part, POWs in America were treated fairly well. Some were turned into conscripted labor because so many men were overseas fighting the war.

But, once your freedom has been taken from you, all thoughts logically turn to that of escape.

Think about it, any time you are prevented from doing anything you wish, you want to do it more. If you can’t eat dessert, you want more dessert. If you aren’t allowed to read or learn, you yearn for instruction materials.

Have your freedom yanked, all you want is the ability to move about freely. It doesn’t much matter how “nice” it is at your POW camp.

You’re a prisoner.

‘Nuff said.

Barbed wire against moody sky. Toned shot, closeup.

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