WRITING TIP 3: What If?

whatif 001I am often asked, “How do you get all your ideas?” And I usually reply, “Thinking!” (Not really). It is a very important question to ask because without ideas you face the horror of the blank page! Da-da-dum. That’s the moment when you are sat at your table or lying on the floor or under the covers of your bed with a brand new piece of paper and a pen ready-for-action. Only problem is: your head is empty! What can you write about? You want to write something but what?

A good way to come up with ideas is to play the What if…? game. That’s when you ask yourself a series of What if questions until you come up with an idea you might want to write. You might come up with lots  – so have a notepad ready.

Here’s what I mean by What if questions:
What if bananas hated being eaten by monkeys and decide to fight back to stop it happening?
What if my dad gradually turned into a gorilla?
What if I found a magical gold coin that could transport me anywhere?
What if killer cucumbers from space started to invade earth?
What if people disappeared when visiting the house at the end of my street?

I’m sure you get the idea. It doesn’t matter how daft some of the What ifs are as long as you let your imagination go wild and you jot your ideas down. Don’t think “I can’t write that, people will think it’s silly,” because the story is not there’s. You are writing the story so it’s your story so you can write what you like. You’re the boss!

Have fun!

POEM: Teacher says…

midnightfrog_just-your-imagination

 

Teacher says
my writing is not very good
But I dream of slaying serpents
with a dappled sword of light

Teacher says
I should use more connectives
But I search the fathoms of Hades
for the last souls of the unforgiven

Teacher says
it would be better with subordinate clauses
But I dance with moonlight maidens
on an ocean of stardust from Mars

Teacher says
my work lacks imagination
But I journey home, sword broken
and the beast of burden victorious

POEM: Words Of Wisdom

cheeky-girl

Grown ups say daft things.
I just don’t get them.
They want me to do as I’m told
and learn
but how can I
when they say such rubbish.

Just the other day
Nan said: If you don’t go to sleep
right now
you’ll be sleeping in
the other room.
Do you understand?

So I had to tell her: Yes I understand.
If you were speaking
another language
I wouldn’t
but you’re speaking english.

Then another time
after we had a BIG dinner
at a small price
Nan said: You certainly get
what you pay for
in that place.

So I had to point out: Well
you always get
what you pay for,
don’t you?
As for my mum,
she’s no better,
why to my little brother
who was tipping water
ON the dinner table
she said : That
was a BIG mistake!

So I had to tell her:
No it wasn’t.
That was
on purpose.

Becoming A Time Lord

Lately, I have been spending a lot of my energy attempting to be a Lord of Time and, like any possible Timelord, I have been getting to grips with time and their relative dimensions in space. Now, you might think this is a quite straight forward thing to do as a writer but you would be wrong.

1)TIME is always the BIGGEST problem. You may have a job, family (particularly the young lively sort), pets, clubs, homework or household chores that always seem to demand your attention at the moment you settle down to write. It is very difficult to get to write with any or many of these in your life. Some may call these excuses but I challenge them to write anything with a three year old vomiting on their pencil. So, like myself, you may find it better not to schedule a particular time but rather take advantage of the odd 1/2 hour – hour that may arise throughout the day. Instead of watching that TV, reading a magazine  or book (yes, I did say that), write. Being a Timelord demands sacrifice.
Even snippets of 5 or 10 minutes can be effectively used. Not for writing great reams but for imagining, asking what ifs, or as I have recently done, to jot down a key piece of exposition that you may forget.

2)RELATIVE - best avoided. They tend to take over your life when they visit or fill your imaginative quiet with noise. At worst, they are vocal critics. If you get yourself a useful, trained one, they might be of use as a cheap editor.

3)DIMENSIONS can be important. You are probably best going for ample room for paper, pen, laptop/tablet (if needed). Most important, leave plenty of room for snacks and coffee. Sacrifice personal comfort if necessary for the sake of coffee. It is the fuel that drives a Lord of Time. With enough, you will become transcendental in your writing and won’t notice the cramped space in the cupboard you are working in. If space is at a premium, I suggest something stronger than coffee.

4)SPACE can be a problem. Unless you are extremely well paid or fortunate to live in a relatively empty house, finding a quiet place to lock yourself away can be a problem. Sometimes you just have to make do even if it is a breakfast encrusted dinner table or on an unmade bed or in a cafe or on the back of the trained relative. A useful tactic is to choose a location without a tv or wifi, or if this isn’t possible, one with an annoyingly poor connection that makes you go through ridiculous procedural form filling to get just 2 minutes online. You will then soon no longer be tempted by such diversions. Remember, being a Timelord demands sacrifice.

So there you have my secrets of becoming a Timelord and going onto future success at getting something down on paper (using the toilet doesn’t count).