words and images by mk swanson
Discipline for Spring Writing

Discipline for Spring Writing

A guest post written for Women’s Memoirs, companion to An Editor’s Perspective: Prompts for Winter on Story Circle Network. Photos are mine.

Discipline for Spring Writing

Mary K. Swanson

Ripening mulberries

Ripening mulberries

It’s spring in your mind, and you don’t have enough time to record, much less write, all the ideas that are bursting from you. You handwrite the beginnings of a short story or novel or memoir vignette during lunch, or you remember that the statute of limitations has expired on your outbreak of high spirits in college, and you just can’t decide which succulent idea you should flesh out first.

Inspiration is intoxicating, but like a fruit-infused, alcoholic beverage, it can leave you with little memory of what you did while under its influence. Using a few strategies, tools and some personal grit, you can ensure that you have plenty of ideas for a writing winter.

Brain Rewind
Do you ever find yourself telling yourself a story or remembering a scene from your past while driving, or on a bus or plane, or even at work? Be prepared with a tool to record or type your ideas—anywhere.

  1. A recorder for your car that allows you to download recordings to your computer.
  2. An app for your smartphone that helps you easily record and label your ideas.
  3. Online writing software or a virtual location like a blog or wiki so you can work anywhere you have an Internet connection.
  4. Get an easy online backup system like Mozy or iDrive.

NextGen Napkin
With digital photography, you can instantly send photos to your friends. Another use for a digital camera is to record your paper notes and sketches so you can easily retrieve them later. If you would rather go straight to digital with your handwritten notes, you can use a touchscreen.

Comic Book Heroes
Maybe you have the bones of an idea for a story, but between work, home, and kids, you just don’t have the time to write. If you’ve got ideas but limited time, try writing the comic book version or your scene, chapter, or novel.

A comic book concentrates on scene (usually a page or two) and dialog (those little balloons), with just a small amount of narrative. You can use the format to record your ideas and work out a tentative plot and set of characters, or recreate a scene from your life that rings true.

You don’t have to be an artist to write the script for a comic book. With a few simple rules, you can use the comic book format to clarify your thoughts.

  1. Whenever you introduce a new character, write a quick description.

  2. Dialog should be short; every word counts.

  3. Give a factual description of scenery and action.

  4. Each page (scene) is a maximum of eight panels long.