There seem to be posts on creativity all over the blogosphere at the moment, two of the best being Melissa Donovan’s post over at Writing Forward and Mary Jaksch’s post at Write to Done. I remember one person saying that you couldn’t describe yourself as ‘creative’ unless you did anything deemed to be such, since creativity is an action. That being said, I decided I’d share a little game I devised the other day whilst sat on the tube to try and spark your creativity. It can be done on most forms of public transport, and trying to be furtive is good practice should you ever decide to become a spy.
If someone is reading the newspaper beside you, take a sneaky peek over their shoulder at the headlines. Quite a lot of people assume it’s alright to read a broadsheet on a crowded train so this shouldn’t be too difficult. Try combining two different headlines from the same page to come up with a plot line. Take a look at the person with the newspaper and try to work out just why a particular story might mean something to them. If the headline is about a security leak at government level, perhaps your newspaper neighbour is the staff member who left a laptop on the train? Or maybe they’re the person who bought it for their own nefarious ends!
I love to read the newspapers to get ideas for plots! Truth is often stranger than fiction and one of my favourite things to do is to scan the ‘for sale’ ads, and then try to work out exactly why the owner wants to part with the item they’re selling. Just today, I saw adverts offering a ‘slightly used’ wedding dress, an antique set of drawers, and a job lot of men’s shoes. Why were they for sale? Even more importantly, what sort of person would buy them? Read a little further, and even the obituaries can give great story ideas, if you don’t mind being a little morbid. If your newspaper has a science section, or a “strange but true” column, give that a read too. You never know what inspirational nuggets may lurk therein.
Further ways to use the news in your writing can be found at Melissa’s post here. Recommended reading! Plus, if you’re suffering from writer’s block, then try Mark McGuinness’ post at Lateral Action. They’re currently running a series on removing creative blocks.
Now go forth and start scanning those newspapers! What weird and wonderful things can you find?