Friday, January 24, 2014

Smash Books

Do any of you own a Smash Book? I do. They look something like this:

They look pretty plain and neat on the outside, right? Well, the inside isn't so much. Mine looks something like this:

One of my more orderly pages.
The other ones are too messy to post!

Smash books are amazing. They give packrats like me a place to glue all our junk (gum wrappers, ticket stubs, Valentine's cards, etc.). You don't have to worry about order or what exactly you're putting in-- it's like the junk drawer. There is no right or wrong to it-- you just smash it in!
I think writers should own a special kind of smash book-- one where they keep all their random thoughts and ideas, or just stuff that inspires them to write. A character sketch, a line of poetry, song lyrics, or photos of interesting people that can someday be characters.

Oh, wait-- I think they call that Pinterest.

Anyway, I keep an idea notebook. My idea notebook is where, every day, I write down twenty random ideas or phrases. Each one on the list can be one word or it can be a whole paragraph. It can be an image in your mind, like "lime green headband," or it can be a full description of the object. Remember, the whole point of the idea notebook is to write down the idea. You can use the idea elsewhere. So if one of the items on your list is "Grandma's house," just write "Grandma's house" and describe what it looks like somewhere else.

Here's an example from one of mine:

January 23, 2014

1. Calendar
2. Old diary
3. Drunken pilot
4. Red velvet cake
5. Zucchini
6. Slow Internet
7. Blizzard
8. "Something's made your eyes go cold."
9. A hole in the wall
10. Grabbing the radiator pipes instead of the iron stair railing-- OUCH!
11. Horrible referees
12. Winnie the Pooh
13. Snowman mailbox
14. Tired eyes
15. Ribbon
16. Lace
17. Overdue assignments
18. Ratty baseball cap with skull-and-crossbones emblem
19. Locker
20. Purple camera

As you can see, mine don't have much to do with anything. I just jot down the first thing that comes to mind. (Looking over these, I question my mental stability. Like, WHERE DID SOME OF THESE COME FROM???) But your list doesn't have to be completely random-- it can also be a summary of your day.

When I went to Camp Galilee, I learned very quickly that diary entries didn't work very well, what with the "ten minutes to lights out" combined with long, eventful, 16-hour days! There is just no way to cover all that happens in one day of camp in ten minutes. So I started an early version of my idea notebook. Instead of writing a full description, I just scribbled down the highlights of my day along with any especially interesting bits of dialogue I wanted to remember. Then when I got home, I pieced together diary entries from that list, and added the photos I took. Voila! I didn't forget one bit about my camp experience. It's all written down.

And then I had one of those "lightbulb!" moments and started using it every day as a writing prompt. Now, whenever I get an extreme case of writer's block, I just get out my idea notebook, pick a day, and write a story using all of the items on that list.

What about you? Did you already keep an idea notebook? I'd love to hear about yours-- leave a comment!


-- Rebecca

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Rebecca :)