Use This Neat Writing Trick When Your Brain is Stagnant

11 February, 2012

creativity, innovation, writing

Writers, an idea: How can you quickly stimulate an idea for an essay or story when you’re mind seems blank? Mark Sumner of the Daily Kos writes this:

In case you’re having a problem, try this little exercise. Go to the nearest book shelf, drag down two volumes at random, and turn them both to the same page. Let’s say … page 132. It doesn’t matter if what you’ve plucked is tattered Harlequin paperbacks or volumes from the 1948 Funk & Wagnall’s, this will work either way. Just scan those two pages for something that catches your eye. Maybe one features a mail carrier. Maybe the other is about the White House. Hey, presto … just who does deliver the president’s mail? Do the Land’s End catalogs end up in the Oval Office? Is Fly Fisherman still sending copies on a subscription penciled in during the Eisenhower administration? There’s no shortage of ideas in this mash up.

The first time I tried this little exercise, I ended up looking at one page of a book about the Little Ice Age and another page about Christopher Columbus. Put them together, and I wrote a story called In Fourteen Hundred and Ninety-Three, Columbus Crossed the Frozen Sea. I wrote it that night, sold it the next day.

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