Tag Archives: ideas

How To Write When You Don’t Have Time

13 Sep

These ideas may not be substitutes for old-fashioned, tried-and-true butt-in-chair time, but it does give your writing mind a chance to play when you are pressed for time or enjoying your daily commute.

  • Write a few first liners.

    It is amazing how a story can unfold from just a few simple words. In celebration of Friday the 13th, Writers Digest encouraged their Twitter followers to tweet scary first lines using the hashtag #FridayThe13thStory. I tweeted up a storm and came away with some awesome ideas for some new stories. The best part is each first line only cost me about five minutes of my time at the most.

  • Make a character profile in your mind for the person in front of you in line at Starbucks.

    There are some interesting people we encounter every day in this crazy day of ours. Give your writer mind something to do while you wait for your triple shot expresso. That woman in line in front of you, she is actually in the witness protection program. The high powered business man sitting in the corner is actually a highly skilled assassin. That soccer wife putting too much sugar in her coffee actually has a secret second family in another state. The possibilities are endless. Bonus: Take note of any strange traits or ticks you notice in other people as you are going about your day. They are great ways to add three-dimensional flare to your characters.

  • Drive around town as a character.

    My favorite game to play in the car is something I call “car chase”. I pick out a car behind me in traffic and pretend like they are out to get me. Then I make up a story line of who they are, what they did, what I did, what they want, etc. If you don’t like chase scenes, imagine you are driving anywhere but where you are actually going. Why are you going there?

  • Play the “What if…” game.

    What if today is the day zombies rise from their graves? What if I walk into the gas station only to find it empty with the clerk tied up behind the counter? What if all the men on Earth began to regress back through the evolutionary chain? The “What if…” game is another tool you can use anywhere. Think of a scenario and what you or the people around you would do.

  • Take pictures and use them as inspiration for later.

    I have recently been trying to take more pictures while I am running around town. I try to take photos of random human objects in nature, like a chair left in the woods or a plastic food tray abandoned on a nature tail. Then I look back on these photos and write down story ideas.

Tools of the Trade:

  • Digital Recorder

    Because you will probably be driving or too busy to jot down notes, carry around a digital recorder or download a digital recorder app on your phone.

  • Note Pad

    The guy preparing your food at Panda Express is a mouth breather, and you think that is a perfect trait for one of your characters in your sci-fi thriller. However, you don’t want to make a voice memo and say “mouth breather” right in front of him (your mother taught you better than that). That is why it is important to have other options, such as a note pad. You can download one for your phone or carry around the analog version, Post Its and a pencil.

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