From the mouths of babes

Dame Jackie

First, a little about what I’m up to and what not:

BOOK I AM CURRENTLY READING: The Casual Vacancy by J.K Rowling

TELEVISION SHOWS I CAN’T WAIT TO WATCH: Supernatural season 8, episode 2; Nashville premiere episode; American Horror Story: Asylum premiere episode

A LITTLE BIT OF HAPPINESS: I bought a few awesome dresses from The Pyramid Collection last night — I hope they look fabulous and fit even fabulouser!


And now, today’s post, brought to you by my one of my Precious Little Tax Deductions. :)

This morning, as Tax Deduction the Elder was eating breakfast, I asked him if he’d like me to write another story for him and his brother (the first story is in process). He said yes. So I asked him what it should be about.

And for the next ten minutes, he told me the story.

Everything from the main character’s name (Charlie) to the quest (the search for a name for his magic sword) to his friends (a girl named Alyssa and a boy named Will) to the way Charlie goes from being a normal seventh grader (FYI, the Tax Deduction is in sixth grade) to winding up in a place where he gets into “tons of fights with monsters that are ten thousand feet tall” and why Charlie had the sword (because of his power) to the bad guy behind it all (he’s the one who brought Charlie there and is the only one who can send Charlie home). And more.

Basically, he gave me a five-hundred page book in ten minutes. There were a few plot holes. But that’s why we have revisions, right?

Isn’t it amazing how we, as writers, can hit our heads against the wall because we can’t think of an idea, but a kid can bang one out off the cuff? We get so busy saying, “WAIT, STOP, HOW DO I MAKE THIS BELIEVABLE????” that sometimes we forget that the fun isn’t in the believability but in the magic of storytelling. Idea generation doesn’t have to be so complicated. It’s like when I was worried about doing a flying sidekick to break a board in taekwondo last year — my son asked me why I was worried, and I said that I was nervous about doing the kick, and he replied, “Flying sidekicks are easy. Just run, jump and kick.” No overthinking. No “what if”s. No nothing to distract from the goal of breaking the board. Just run, jump and kick. The same thing goes for coming up with ideas — just think about what’s in your head, start by putting pen to paper or fingertips to keyboard and write whatever comes to mind, no matter how off the wall or blah the ideas may seem. Don’t stress over it making sense. Just think, start and write.

And so, in the spirit of my Tax Deduction, I have an assignment for you. I want you to take five minutes — five consecutive, uninterrupted minutes; set the timer — to just **write** whatever’s in your head. Don’t self-edit. Don’t stop to logic it out. Free form, no worries, no pressure to “make it good.” Just write. See where it takes you. And after the five minutes are up, sit back and reread what you’ve got. It could be nothing.

Or it could be gold.

And with NaNo coming up in a few weeks, what better time is there to start kicking around ideas?


  1. Jess says

    I love this. I had an English teacher that made us do 5 minutes of writing like this every class. If we couldn’t think of anything we could transcribe the lyrics of the record he put on or draw loops until we started writing. The only rule was we had to write, no drawing. I miss that class.

  2. says

    When my daughter was in 4th grade I volunteered to help the kids revise their papers for the young authors project. She was finished– I helped her type it at home, and she wrote about zombie girls who pulled a prank and learned a lesson:) When I went into school I ended up helping a little boy that wrote a sci fi story. It was so cool- I asked him questions to clarify a few things, and he was SO serious as he answered me. We went over what he needed to do, and I showed him how to format dialog. It was so much fun:) My daughter and the boy I helped ended up winning for their class. Let’s hear it for zombie and aliens!

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