This is a game dedicated to Don Murray with an acknowledgment to Will Terrell for his insights on what attracts human attention.
Don Murray proposed that writers should keep day books, otherwise known as writer’s journals or writer’s notebooks. Don, amongst other things, filled his day books with lists. One of which was a list of potential titles for future stories.
All of which is good, but as Will Terrell explains in his video, a simple change can make a title far more memorable.
Journaling for creativity is a process, and perhaps the most obvious indicator that you are involved in a process, and not producing a product, is when you record questions in your journal.
These may be questions for you to answer or questions in need of answers from someone else.
Whether they are queries on your fictional characters or contemplations about real people, the whys, hows, whats and wheres will always keep occurring, and until you know an answer what better place to keep the question current than your journal.
The few occasions where very strong emotions are expressed will test the extent of your active observation skills.
In writing circles the mantra “to show, not tell” resounds; we are constantly being told to demonstrate to the reader what our character is feeling, not tell the reader what emotions are being experienced by our characters.
So when you encounter anguish, rage, joy, despair, ecstasy, love, shock, etc. it is very important that you record exactly how these emotions are expressed by the people experiencing them. Do not restrict yourself to just the facial emotions, but instead, soak up the range of emotional indicators demonstrated by the whole body and persona of the individual.
Journals are great places for saving overheard snippets of dialogue. People often say the most interesting things or even uninteresting things but said in interesting ways.
If you ‘tune-in’ to the people around you, they will reward you with a wonderful and never ending selection of sayings, idioms, slang, phrases and profanity; some of which will be worth keeping in your creative journal for later use or inspiration.
This week’s game is one of the really enjoyable, fun games that can fill any odd moment. If played in your journal by yourself, it makes for a satisfying diversion or it can be a pleasurable social game played amongst friends.
How to play. Look at your surroundings and for the items there identify other things that have similar physical characteristics.
In other words find physical similes of the original object.
Which is easy until you strech yourself into all the abstract possibilities.
Today’s game borrows a technique from the photographic arts. In this game we attempt to either draw in or distance our reader from the action, by considered use of viewpoint.
The game involves rewriting the same scene as observed from different physical perspectives, in the same way that a photographer will subtly vary a composition by adjusting the focal length when taking a photograph ….. this technique can provide the reader with a perception of being ‘up close’ or ‘viewing from a distance’ and so subtly change the effect of a scene. The technique can also be used to play with emotions, withhold information from the reader or make additional information available.
Personal ponderings can be a slight problem when journaling for creativity, because how can you be sure that you are actually pondering in a creative way and not pondering about issues more aligned with personal journaling?
Personal thoughts are really personal journaling, tending to be introspective rather than being the gregarious clamorous thoughts of creativity. Ultimately it is simply a decision; whether to mix personal journaling entries with creative ones, or keep them separated.
The problem comes when you start a journal entry, is it going to be personal or creative, or perhaps it will wander impishly between the two?
What is meant by a personal dialogue entry? Quite simply, a personal dialogue or conversational entry is a two way conversation with the same person. You.
What is it about? The personal dialogue entry is a means of breaking through the turmoil of our busy, stressful and demanding lives, and making contact with your inner thoughts, desires and strengths.
There are many ways to do this, but in this and the next posts we will concentrate on three methods.
This weeks game can be played both in your journal and socially with friends and family. It also makes a fantastic “keep the kids occupied” game whilst travelling.
The game’s origins date back to the swinging sixties, where it was devised by academics for measuring creativity. More recently, a modification of the game has been popularised in the television show “Whose line is it anyway?” in the form of “the prop-game”.
For this game, all you have to do is select an object, then list as many possible and diverse uses that you can dream up.
One result of capturing your thoughts in a creative journal, and then reviewing those entries, is that thoughts continue to circulate in your subconscious. The outcome being that they drive more thoughts and more ideas up to the surface, which cause even more questions to be asked and even more possibilities to be considered.
Creative journaling feeds this “buzz”, and so during quiet periods of the day you will find your mind alive with new ideas and thoughts on your project.