• Debbie Slaughter

Thoughts on Writing - Ideas - Part 2

As I mentioned in Thoughts on Writing - The Ideas- Part 1, life is a great source for content ideas.

One of the greatest opportunities I've had as a writer, has been to observe people living in the latter stages of life, in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

As a volunteer for my husbands hospice company, I would find myself watching the residents, as the volunteer band played and entertained with songs, and I would gain so much by just taking time to notice their faces.

As I wrote in "Surrounded but Alone" in my new book Notes That Linger, I witnessed the power of a song take a woman from sitting alone in a room full of people, to a time in her life where she must have special memories.

As the attendants wheeled her into the room, the woman was solemn and sad; looking completely uninterested in what was about to take place. It was as if she were just an empty shell, missing everything in life that she once held dear.

But, as the band began playing an old country classic, she closed her eyes and as tears ran down her face, I just quietly observed her; feeling as though I was intruding on a very sacred moment.

With each new line of the song, she never opened her eyes, but just sat and cried, as I imagined her and her husband, dancing to the lyrics about "strolling hand in hand." It was a beautifully, painful scene.

When the music was over, she opened her eyes, and once again, sat as still as a statue; surrounded but alone, in a room full of people.

On other occasions I've written about my own memories - of grandparents, summer nights as a kid, sounds of an old farmhouse and tape measures found on a forgotten shelf.

Ideas come from paying attention to what's going on right in front of you.

When I was teaching my children at home, all those years, I saw everything as a teachable moment. It's a running joke that homeschool moms can turn the most mundane tasks into a lesson of some sort.

As a writer, it's kind of the same concept; everything you observe becomes a possibility for stories to form and ideas to develop.

What would life be, if we didn't pay attention to our surroundings?

Equally, what would writing be, if we let opportunities slip through our fingers, when all we had to do is reach out and grab ahold?

Ideas will come, when you learn to look for them in the most ordinary scenes. And those are the stories that others will relate to the most.

I've enjoyed sharing these posts on how ideas show up.

I'll be writing more about my methods on how to get from random notes scribbled on pages, to full-blown stories that makes sense, in the next post.


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