Stories are the creative conversion of life itself into a more powerful, clearer, more meaningful experience. They are the currency of human contact.
The red-winged blackbirds, the true harbingers of spring, the grackles, and the cowbirds are all back and vying for seed. The woodpeckers, which have been here all along, are eating like mad. We have downy, hairy, red-bellied and, yes, pileated woodpeckers coming to dine. The pileated doesn’t bother with the feeder, of course, heading straight instead for one of the many trees in our woods. And yesterday, I watched a yellow-bellied flicker peck for his breakfast in our yard.
It’s hard to write and work sometimes because there is so much life I watch through this window. Something is always changing, happening. A myriad stories occurring within a short distance of my keyboard.
You are surrounded by stories in your environment, your family life, your work, in the news, and in nature.
One of the statements I hear from people who want to write but don’t is, “I don’t know what to write about.”
While every writer may have an occasional moment of that, most of the time, writers are so busy absorbing and soaking up everything, every story going on around them that the trouble is not one of not knowing what to write about, but rather one of picking one out of the wealth of stories bombarding them every day.
If you are ever stuck for a story idea, just look out your window. Then…
Pick a character, in a setting, with a conflict. Add a twist.
Oh sure, you say, it should be that easy. And how could I possibly write a story from birds at the bird feeder?
Oh geez, don’t get me started. For example:
One day, a young girl (character) sits at her bedroom window even though it is laced with frost (setting). She looks at pictures of her dead father (conflict) holding her and playing with her when she was a small child. Her father loved feeding the birds in the winter. She looks out her window and notices that the bird feeders are empty now. Her mother hasn’t bothered to fill them since… Then she notices what looks like a bird on the ground not moving.
Hurriedly, she pulls on her boots and coat and scurries outside with a container of seed, hoping that the poor bird isn’t dead. But when she sets the seed container on the ground and squats to check out the bird with red wings, she sees that the wings don’t belong to a bird at all but to a… (twist).
Where did your mind go? There are at least three or four other scenarios with characters and settings I could come up with just from looking at the bird feeders out my window.
Look out your window. The window of your office, car, bedroom, or train. Look, find a story, tell a story.
And if none of those windows inspire you then look through the window of your dreams or the tarot.
You have a story. The question is which one? And will you tell it?
And if you need help with that story or defining which one you want to write, schedule an hour with me for a Writer’s Breakthrough. I’ll help you identify what is holding you back, explore various story or development questions to trigger insights, and determine your next scenes, chapters, or actions. 60 minutes, $147. Email me to schedule your breakthrough.