As I sit down to write today, I see I have posted nearly 1,200 times on this blog, dating back to October 2008. I have a few more saved in some Word files that I had previously posted on another platform. I have written about ministry, family, travel, projects, and various things that have either made me laugh or groan. I have published some of my devotions here, a few sermons, and some memorable pictures.
I started investing more time in writing to become a better storyteller. Our minds are wired for story, and that’s what we remember best. Adding a layer of story to ordinary moments can transform them into something amazing. Not only can I share the moments with others, but it etches them into my soul. It’s a win-win.
It’s not easy to do. At least not day after day. So what revs up and maintains my creative juices? What tools or tricks do I use to come up with topics or issues to write about?
I love to start with a picture. It might be a photo I’ve taken of something that caught my eye. It could be a piece of art from a gallery or from a grandchild. The visual sparks my imagination as I imagine the story behind an object, person, or place. I try to make sure I take a few pictures every day, knowing that one day they’ll be a springboard for a story.
I’ve written a lot of stories about my experiences. That’s why I keep a daily journal, recapping the events of my day. I keep track of where I’ve gone, who I’ve talked to, what I’ve purchased, projects I’ve completed, what I’ve cooked and eaten, and especially what made me laugh. Sometimes I reach way back into my life to write about memories of school, family, and friends.
Music helps. I am definitely a left-brained analytical thinker. Logic comes easy. Stories are a challenge. But playing music engages the right side of my brain and can shift me into storytelling mode. If I just can’t figure out what to write, I’ll grab my guitar or sit down with my trumpet and let music open up my imagination. It always works.
Gratitude stimulates creativity. Pause a moment to be thankful for anything and everything you have, the people around you, and the creation in which you live. Suddenly, the stories all around you jump out and beg to be told.
For devotional writing, I always begin with a bible passage. The living and active word of God reveals how he is involved in the story of my life. His words transport me way back in time, then into the future, and then finally shape my life in the here and now.
I’m trying to read more now in retirement. When an idea or phrase catches my attention, I jot it down for later reference. I sometimes come up with story ideas that way.
I haven’t done a whole lot with it yet, but I can see AI being a tool to help me when I’m having trouble figuring out what to write about. It’s easy to ask ChatGPT for ideas and end up with more than you need. It’s new, and it’s a little intimidating, but it’s an interesting resource. I’ve found it very helpful for generating titles that get more attention.
Some days it comes easy. Some days it’s a real struggle. But it’s a process I enjoy and hope to continue.