Posted by: Kathy Temean | January 5, 2010

Generating Writing Ideas Exercise

As most of you know I work with David L Harrison (author of 80 children’s books) doing his website, etc.  Over the last four months I have pointed writers who enjoy writing poems to his blog and his monthly poetry contest.  A few days ago he posted a writing exercise to help writers develop ideas for his poetry contests, but I don’t think it only applies to poets.  I suspect it could be used to develop ideas for any story.  I’m sure we can all utilize new ways to develop ideas, don’t you?

Here are 3 of the 6 steps you can take with the link to the rest.

Pick a word.  Let’s say it is time.

Think it over for a few minutes but don’t waste a lot of “time” doing it. Do the quick stuff first. What does time make you think of?

1 Make a list of the first things that come to mind

Telling time
Losing time
Time out
Lunch time
A good time
A sad time
A funny time
Once upon a time
Hard times
Prehistoric times
Time zones
Daylight Savings Time
The time of your life
In no time
(You’ll think of a lot more in the next few minutes)

2. Look up some things about time and make notes

The earliest efforts to keep track of time
Tracking sun and moon
Following constellations across the sky
Modern time pieces
Making a watch
Measuring distance in light years

3. Pick a subject that interests you and think about what you might write about it. Begin with random thoughts, whatever comes to mind.

I’ll choose LUNCH TIME from the first list.

What would I have to say about lunch time? I might write about eating lunch in our school cafeteria. Some kids are noisy and talk to their friends while others sit quietly and eat their food. Some days we get so noisy that teachers and even our principal have to stand up and give us the quiet sign until we settle down. Some days the food is good but I don’t always eat everything on my tray.

I could write my poem about the day the lights went out during lunch period and some of the little kids didn’t like it but some of the bigger ones threw stuff and no one could hear anything over all the yelling.

Or maybe I can write about how we have to line up to go to the cafeteria and walk down the hall behind our teacher. One time someone stepped on my heel and my shoe came off. Sometimes we get giggly and can’t seem to stop even when our teacher gives us “The look.” One time we got so out of control that our teacher made us go back to our room and start all over, and then we had to wolf our food down.

Click link for the rest of the list.

It is fun to read how he thinks and how he revised, so don’t miss it.  I also put a link on his blog, so you can print it out.  If you like to write poems and lyrical prose, you really should consider entering one of his monthly contests.  I am always harping on all of you to market yourself.  You really don’t know where your next opportunity will pop up.  I just noticed that today Lee Bennett Hopkins visited David’s blog today – very cool!


  1. I liked this article too. Great idea to repost it here. I’ll include a link on my site as well. I think I’ll send them here, so they don’t miss the inspirational speech at the end. 😉


    • Yousei,

      It looks like you are having a good time showing off your talents on David’s Blog. I am glad you followed my advice. I don’t know if you know it, but people like David and Lee Bennett Hopkins who has started to visit actually give new poets a chance to get published when they do anthologies. It doesn’t hurt to let them see your writing. You will be right there in front of their eyes and that can’t be bad.



      • I can’t thank you enough for suggesting his site. It really does offer writers a lot of opportunities and info. As a surprise bonus, I found out David knows an aunt of mine. What a wonderful, small world.


  2. […] Writing and Illustrating […]


  3. Always great stuff, Kathy 🙂 You have great taste in what info is truly helpful or interesting, AND…you keep it short and sweet! Yea!


  4. […] Can you think of any others, or do you have any thoughts on the ten she’s posted? BTW, she has an excellent excerpt from author David Harrison on how to generate original story ideas. It’s a keeper. Check it out HERE. […]


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