I have six blogs (five unused); a motley collection of journals filled with ramblings, attempts at poetry, the beginnings of stories, ideas for other stories; a head full of images and descriptions; muses tugging at my attention – the heart of a poet. But I find words fail me when I try to formalise my attempts; they skip elusively beyond my reach, taunting me and trying me. This attempt was exhausting – finding a starting point. Putting pen to paper, or in this case finger to touch screen. Why do I find it so hard to pin them down?
One writing prompt that has helped is Ray Bradbury’s idea that list-making can stimulate creativity. He writes:
“These lists were the provocations, finally, that caused my better stuff to surface. I was feeling my way toward something honest, hidden under the trapdoor on the top of my skull.”
He believed that making lists helped tapped the subconscious and allowed new ideas to flow freely; that the writer would be able to see patterns emerging in the lists that could lead to new ideas, titles, links and more.
He urged aspiring writers to pick one of the nouns from the list and then sit down to write a long prose-poem essay on it.
“Conjure the nouns, alert the secret self, taste the darkness … speak softly, and write any old word that wants to jump out of your nerves onto the page…”
I like this idea. It is a way to bypass rationality, insecurities and fears and to let the words come to life, to let the stories start to reveal themselves and become full-blooded, bold, beautiful narratives.
So, I took a deep breath and jumped…