Michille: Writing Prompts for Mother’s Day

With Mother’s Day right around the corner and a dearth of creative juices flowing right now, I stumbled on a post with writing prompts that celebrate moms. The point of the post is prompting one to write something nice to send to their mother. Of course, my brain went down the path of story ideas.

The first prompt is “Remember that time we went on that trip… Write about a recent trip or holiday you went on with your mother.” My writer brain takes a trip with a mother who drops her by the side of the road and leaves her. Or leaves her by killing herself a la The Queen’s Gambit.

Another is: “I always wanted to tell you… What is the one thing you always wanted to tell your mom?” How about: When you had that affair and dad took me away, did you know what an abusive son of a bitch he was?

“My mom’s favorite story about me is… when I was…” This could be a way to tell backstory to another character. The character’s mom tells a hugely embarrassing story, or maybe one that gives insight into the character’s current situation/goal.

Check out the prompts and see if you can come up with a twist that makes a better story.

Happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers.

Michille: Languishing

My last post was about looking for romance story ideas because my creativity had abandoned me. Part of that lack I believe to be motivation. Well, that, and being slammed at work for a year and a half. I believe I’ve mentioned before that I’m in the K-12 education grants game in my day job and education hasn’t looked the same for the last year and a half as it did for the previous, say, 50 years. We have to do a lot of amending.

But it appears that I’m not the only one. Michaeline’s last post was about Procrastination and Kittens. Although, it was really a wonderful reason to procrastinate (I’ve been known to procrasti-bake). And Jilly posted about needing to Take a Break because her usual creative wells have run dry.

And then on Monday, I saw a piece in the New York Times that struck a chord with me. There’s a Name for the Blah You’re Feeling: It’s Called Languishing. The author, Adam Grant, called it the neglected middle child of mental health and suggested that it may be the dominant emotion of 2021. His summary of how he and those in his orbit were feeling went like this:

“It wasn’t burnout — we still had energy. It wasn’t depression — we didn’t feel hopeless. We just felt somewhat joyless and aimless. It turns out there’s a name for that: languishing.”

Continue reading

Michille: Romance Story Ideas

Creativity has abandoned me. I hope it’s temporary. I googled ‘romance writing prompts’ to jump start my creative mind and got some interesting results.

The Write Practice. 20 Romance Story Ideas.
These are interesting and a little twisty with a gender-bender thrown in. A cop and a jewelry store owner who is tripping his alarm on purpose. Humans and aliens communicating through a plant. There is only one tried and true – the hero who has sworn off love falls for the spunky rookie with a joie de vivre.

Writing Forward. Fiction Writing Prompts for Romance and Love Stories
These are all pretty vanilla. Two characters at odds because they both want the same thing. Human falling for an alien (The Shape of Water anyone?). Casting a love spell. Mortal enemies fall in love.

eadeverll.com. 52 Romance Story Ideas to Write Now
There are some interesting ones here (and some stock ones). A clockmaker who falls in love with a fairy they find in an antique clock. Two beachcombers who come together when they find two pieces of an ancient artifact. A lexicographer who incites a “manhunt” when they use their unrequited love as the subject for a series of puzzles for a local newspaper. Two paranoiacs who invent their own secret language to communicate with each other (kinda funny). Two gods from different mythologies who meet after the end of the world.

Bryn Donovan. 50 Romance Plot Ideas.
These are vague ideas. She’s already ruled him out. They are competitors or straight-up enemies. He already won (inherited the estate/got the job that she wanted). He broke her heart in the past. He did her wrong in the past. He did something wrong in the past, period.

It didn’t immediately jumpstart my creativity, but it gave me some ideas. Any other ideas to get the creative juices flowing?

Michille: Kerouac’s 30

Whenever I see various writers’ tips on or rules for writing, I always click. I usually find something that speaks to me. However, when I stumbled on Jack Kerouac’s 30 rules for writing, that didn’t apply. They didn’t make sense. So I googled and found the same list called Cool Tips, Beliefs and Techniques, and Advice to Writers (this one has editorial). I’m sure if I’d gone further I’d have seen more descriptors of this list.

Jack Kerouac

Jack Kerouac (March 12, 1922 – October 21, 1969) was an American novelist and poet. Kerouac is a literary icon and a pioneer of the Beat Generation, best known for the beatnik classic On the Road.

Other writers were always asking Kerouac for advice. He set down 30 essentials in a note titled ‘Belief and Technique for Modern Prose’. Or what another website called: Hippy Nonsense.

Kerouac’s 30 Rules for Writing

  1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy
  2. Submissive to everything, open, listening
  3. Try never get drunk outside yr own house
  4. Be in love with yr life
  5. Something that you feel will find its own form
  6. Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
  7. Blow as deep as you want to blow
  8. Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
  9. The unspeakable visions of the individual
  10. No time for poetry but exactly what is
  11. Visionary tics shivering in the chest
  12. In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you
  13. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
  14. Like Proust be an old teahead of time
  15. Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog
  16. The jewel centre of interest is the eye within the eye
  17. Write in recollection and amazement for yourself
  18. Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
  19. Accept loss forever
  20. Believe in the holy contour of life
  21. Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
  22. Don’t think of words when you stop but to see picture better
  23. Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning
  24. No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge
  25. Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it
  26. Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form
  27. In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness
  28. Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better
  29. You’re a Genius all the time
  30. Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven

I like “Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind” for its hippy nonsense quotient. But I think “You’re a Genius all the time” is going on my writing bulletin board. Do you have a favorite?

Michille: Procrastibaking 2.0

Elizabeth posted about Procrasti-humor yesterday, which reminded me of my habit of pracrastibaking, which I have blogged about in the past. Which is an actual thing. And I engaged in it this week when I made some absolutely sinful Reese’s Cup brookies.

Back in 2018 I stumbled on a New York Times article: Why Work When You Can Procrastibake? I do this on a fairly regular basis but I never knew it had a name. In fact, my husband, a college professor, is getting his second teaching award in 4 years and he firmly believes it’s because he feeds his kids the baked goods that I procrastibake.

Julia Moskin defines procrastibaking as the practice of baking something completely unnecessary, with the intention of avoiding “real” work and believes it to be a surprisingly common habit. Apparently, not all procrastibakers bake alike. Some make long, slow recipes that break up the entire day, returning to their work in between steps. Others whip up something quick to attempt to get the creative juices flowing. One person quoted in the article makes macarons because they can take several days. Jeez, I don’t kid myself with something that complicated. I usually do cookies, cakes, or brownies.

Procrastibaking is a thriving hashtag on Instagram so of course, I had to break and check Instagram. And it’s true. But, it’s not all good. Tim Pychyl, a professor of psychology at Carleton University in Ottawa, says that procrastination is one of few situations in which people consistently make choices that are demonstrably bad. So I guess I can’t pass it off as being creative.

There was a quote from a romance writer, Mia Hopkins: “When I was schoolteacher, I used to procrastinate by reading and writing romances,” she said. “When I started writing romance full time, I had to find a new way to procrastinate.” Gotta love that.

What is your procrati-_? Procratibaking, procrasticleaning, procrastisurfing (I’m also guilty of this)? And for Elizabeth, It’s procrasti-napping and procrasti-surfing.

Michille: Stages of Intimacy

With Valentine’s Day in the recent past and all the posts (not necessarily here) about love, intimacy and swiping right, I was reminded of an RWA session I attended years ago with Linda Howard in which she presented Desmond Morris’s 12 stages of intimacy as a means to build sexual tension in a story. It comes from his Intimate Behaviour (© 1971), which I looked to buy and couldn’t find until my good 8LW pal Kay gave me her copy a couple of years ago.

One mention in the book that I recently delved into is play-fighting as a stage of intimacy (Chapter 5: Specialized Intimacy). I’ve used that in my stories and, at the time, I didn’t consciously know it was one, or part of one. I’ve read it in other stories. At times, I’ve read it done well and others, I’ve started reading the sequence and rolled my eyes and blew past it because it was too cliché. Morris highlights the possibility that it could escalate into something that is far different from the initial idle start to the play-fighting. That’s when it gets interesting and can be useful in storytelling. Does something go a little too far, then retaliation, then pay back, facial expressions change, play-fighting changes to not playing, or into something else entirely. Is it violence or sexual foreplay?

Continue reading

Michille: Happy Valentine’s Day

St. Valentine is thought to be a real person, recognized by the Catholic Church, who died around 270 A.D. It is thought that he was beheaded by emperor Claudius II for helping soldiers wed. There is some question about this as there was another St. Valentine who helped Christians escape harsh Roman prisons who was then imprisoned himself, fell in love with his jailor’s daughter, and signed his love letters to her “From your Valentine.” There are about a dozen St. Valentines plus a pope. The most recent saint was beheaded in 1861 and canonized in 1988, and the pope of that name lasted about 40 days. Odd history for a romantic holiday – a lot of beheadings involved.

Continue reading

Michille: Write Your Novel in a Year

This popped up again for me when I was noodling around. I read posts like this every year at this time and think, I can do this. I’ve done this, not using any of these exact formula, but I’ve written a novel in a year. Heck, I’ve written them in less than a year, they’re just not publishable. Of course, at this point, that’s because of my failure to stick with editing. But I’ll put these out here in the event that one of these blogs/steps, or a combination of these, helps motivate someone or gives someone a few ideas of new things to try.

As so many people say, or in this case after I googled ‘write your novel in a year’, so many web pages say it. I’ve discussed Writers Write and Anthony Ehlers series called Write Your Novel in a Year. The blog very kindly consolidated all 52 posts here. I have Chuck Wendig’s infographic on my bulletin board (if you don’t like foul language, skip this one). And I’ve tried the NaNo method (although I knew I wouldn’t write an entire novel in a month). I don’t read these because I think any one of them will be the magic bullet, but I do regularly find motivation to keep writing. Here are some of the new ones I found:

Continue reading

Michille: New Year’s Resolutions for Writers

The collective edition. I don’t have any stellar writing resolutions for the new year. Write some more. Continue researching/writing screenplay. But I noodled around on the net to see what other writers have on their lists. Many of them are the same we all know. Butt in the chair, words on the page, etc.

The Happy Guy Writing Services (not a plug for his services) has 10 New Year’s Resolutions for Writers in 2021. I like #4 – paint a picture. I’ve been watching Bridgerton and that has made me think of how the stories I’ve read have created pictures in my mind of various settings.

I like this one from The Writer’s Cookbook from 2019: 52 New Year’s Resolutions for Writers. You don’t often see “let an old project go” for resolutions, but I think it’s a good one.

Jeff Goins had these from 2017: 17 New Year’s Resolutions for Writers. ). #6 is ‘write when you don’t feel like it’. I like that one. But I don’t see #14, ‘make money’, happening for me this year. I wish it for all my 8LW friends, though.

Proedit has 10 New Year’s Resolutions from 2015. My favorite: Improve my fiction by having one conversation with an imaginary person each day.

Do you have any resolutions for this year?

Michille: LaQuette’s Brainstorming Hacks

I am going through years’ worth of Romance Writers Reports. Some of you know, I am completing my second year of getting rid of one thing a day, every day, for 365 days. Last year, I got rid of over 1,000 things. This year, it has only been about 500, but hey, that’s 1,500 fewer things in the house. It’s very liberating. I’m starting on the years’ worth of Romance Writers Reports that have come in the mail and I’ve just stuck on a shelf in the office, and a pile on the desk, and a pile on the floor . . . you get the idea. I found an interesting article on learning styles and productivity. As my husband is a life-long educator and currently a professor in the College of Education at a state university, I hear a lot about learning styles. This LaQuette feature was in the November 2019 volume but can also be found here. It focused on brainstorming hacks according to your learning style. I’ll condense the article here.

The basis of the article is that knowing your individual learning style(s) could be the means to making brainstorming easier. She follows the educational theory that there are seven different learning styles and gives examples of how those types of learning styles can be used to enhance creativity.

Continue reading