If you need a writing tip, picture this: A jumble of square roofed houses painted pink and yellow and blue, all watching over a brilliantly blue sea.
This image was on the box of the 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle that a writer named Penny brought along to a weekend writing group at the Wanneroo library.
Our task to start the session was simple – write something inspired by the image, or by the front cover of the book A Dog’s Purpose.
10 minutes on the timer. Go…
A holiday snap from our trip around Australia.
When time was up, I had written this:
She and I stood together in the fading tide watching our children splash in the warm sea. She wore a white hat that, from my height, covered all but the half-moon of her black swimsuit, and revealed the invitation of her chin as she glanced up, telling of her holiday and husband and life back home, how no one here believed that she was of Italian heritage, with blonde hair and blue eyes, nothing like the stereotype, a product of the north.
‘It’s a beautiful island, isn’t it?’ she said, pointing to pink and yellow houses, their neighbours painted blue for a jumble of square-roofed jewels.
‘Beautiful, yes,’ I agreed, and spied my son swimming out to sea, then stopping at the line where topaz deepened to black.
Writing under pressure
Ok, it needs work…
But as we all shared what we had written, we knew we had conquered that writer’s enemy – writer’s block.
By forcing ourselves to write about something random with total abandon for a set time we had proven to ourselves that we could sit our butts in the chair and do the work, with the pressure of the exercise motivating the words.
If you get stuck, this writing tip frees the mind, gets the creativity flowing, and proves that writer’s block can be cured with work. Just pick something you can see or grab and go for it. Then switch to your work in progress, and keep progressing.
Do you have a favourite writing tip to free up your words? Let me know, I’m always looking for new ways to sharpen the saw.
The ultimate writing tip
The random prompt is just one of the exercises that I did during the writing course On The Write Track I developed for the City of Wanneroo in 2021.
Now some of the students from that course meet up regularly to write together, and they welcome me along too.
Driving away from the meeting where we shared the random image writing tip, I thought of how I created Locust Summer alone, travelling around and doing the work through trial and error and revision – and writing a travel blog to keep the juices flowing.
Sure, I had Laurie Steed mentoring me over email. But the writing was done with just me around. I didn’t have a writing group or a community of writers to be with.
Writing is usually a lone endeavour. Writers crave solitude. I know I do.
But this time, working on my new book, I’m enjoying having the choice of getting peers around and having a tribe.
Perhaps that’s an even more important thing than doing the work. It’s having people to share it with.
What do you think?