Friday, 5 August 2016

A bucket list of ideas


If I had a dollar for everyone who told me they wanted to write a book but didn't know where to start, I'd be a very rich woman.

My response to every one of these people is always, Just start writing. To me, that's not a throw-away line; it's true. I've often explained that starting is easy, it's stopping that's hard. Nevertheless, these people usually then go on to tell me that they don't know what to write about.

Ideas are all around you, inspiration is everywhere, you really just have to look with different eyes. Hold that thought.

The other day, there was this thing going around social media - it was a rather long list of experiences and you had to indicate with a Y (yes) or N (no) for the ones you'd done or not done. I ran through the list and was able to put a Y next to most of them.

I don't think I'm unique. Most of us, I don't think, get up every morning with the sole intention of accumulating experience, but isn't that exactly what we're doing?

So I looked at this list. Here it is with my responses ... it's pretty lengthy.

Been married: Y
Fallen in love: Y
Gone on a blind date: Y
Skipped school: Y
Watched someone die: Y
Been to France: Y
Ridden in an ambulance: N
Been to America: Y
Been to Europe: Y
Been to Blackpool: Y
Been to Liverpool: Y
Been to Newcastle: Y
Visited Disneyland Paris/Orlando: N
Visited Legoland: N
Seen the Grand Canyon: N
Flown in a helicopter: Y
Been on a cruise: N
Served on a jury: N
Danced in the rain: Y
Been to Manchester: Y
Been to Edinburgh: Y
Played in a band: Y
Sung karaoke: Y
Made prank phone calls: Y
Laughed so much you cried: Y
Caught a snowflake on your tongue: Y
Had children: N
Had a pet: Y
Been sledding on a big hill: Y
Been downhill skiing: Y
Been jet skiing: N
Ridden a motorbike: Y
Travelled on a bus, train & coach: Y
Jumped out of a plane: N
Been to an outdoor movie: Y
Ridden on a camel: Y
Ridden on a donkey: Y
Been on TV: Y
Been in the newspaper: Y
Stayed in hospital: Y
Donated blood: Y
Had a piercing: Y
Had a tattoo: Y
Driven over 100 mph: Y
Been scuba diving: N
Lived on your own: Y
Ridden in the back of a police car: Y
Had a speeding ticket: Y
Broken a bone: N
Had stitches: Y
Travelled alone: Y

Told you it was lengthy. 

As humans, we love talking about ourselves; very few of us can resist completing such a list even if it goes on forever. Anyway, as you can see, I answered it with the Y or N as fitted me.

After doing this, however, I got to thinking: any one of these items could be used as inspiration for a story. Whether fiction or non-fiction, there is a story behind each one. Applying my Y or N as I went through the list, I was smiling, laughing or even frowning with the memory induced by the prompt. That is where the story begins.

The list may have triggered a memory buried for years, or even evoked a memory you'd rather not remember at all. These are the bones of a tale that you flesh out by adding detail, time, place, protagonists, purpose, conflict and resolution - the building blocks of writing.

Why don't you run through the list yourself? Put the Ys and Ns next to the items, then pick one and write 500 words about it. Describe your experience - or even one you haven't done but would like to.

I reckon this would be a great little writing exercise. I'm going to try it myself and post the result here for you! Feel free to email yours to me via this link.

Anyway, before I go, I'll leave you with a picture of another amazing experience I've been fortunate enough to have. This shot was taken at the National Zoo and Aquarium in Canberra a few years ago.

Cheetah - magnificent big cat. For those of you who
still don't get it - this pic demonstrates the only way
to shoot animals - with a camera!
See you in 14!

PS - Check out the 'about' page on my website. There's a picture of me catching a snowflake on my tongue!

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