03 March 2009

Writing Prompt - Pictures from the Web

image This is not a new idea, but I have streamlined it to maximize my writing time. Using pictures from the web is my favorite writing prompt exercise, and I use it daily. It helps get me in the right frame of mind and provides great story ideas.

I originally saw the suggestion at About.com's Fiction Writing site.

  1. Visit a web site that features photographs. I use Webshots because it has a new feature picture everyday on its Home page. The feature photograph various in style and subject matter, so I have great variety. It also keeps me from wasting time searching sites or magazines for pictures and becoming distracted from the task at hand.
  2. Study the picture for no more than one minute. Do not think about what you should write. Instead, study the picture; look at the subject matter; notice the details. What do you feel when you look at it?
  3. Set your timer for ten to fifteen minutes. I downloaded a free timer called Cool Timer. It stays on my desktop. It is easy to access and it remains hidden behind my word processing program. I found that I look at a traditional clock and egg-timer too often. It stopped the flow of my writing and distracted me.
  4. Start free-writing about the picture. (See Ginny Wiehardt's instructions for freewriting.) Do not pause to think of a story, just write. Let the story happen and if it doesn't happen, do not get discouraged. One day I wrote for nine minutes about how yummy a picture of cinnamon buns looked (I was writing before breakfast). It was not until the last minute that I started writing about the person who got up early to make the cinnamon buns for people to buy. That last minute turned into one of my better story ideas.
  5. After the timer goes off, look over what you did. Save the writing even it it does not give you a story idea immediately. I
  6. return to my freewriting each month to see if they spark any new ideas. I also include the link to the feature photo that I used, incase I want to look back at it for further inspiration.

Good luck, and remember to enjoy it. If this does not work for you, try something else. Everyone finds their muse in their own way!

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