Writing on Command

Does anyone else have issues writing on command? I can bet that in at least every single creative writing class, you’ve been given a subject and five minutes to write about it. And I don’t know about you, but for at least the first 30 seconds to a minute, I stare at the page and my mind goes completely blank.

It could even be about something simple like apple pie. I’m sure there are a lot of people whose first thought is about the smell or the taste. Me, I’m trying to come up with the “Why” of the matter. Why apple pie? Why not blueberry or peach or cherry? And then half a dozen other questions arise, like who’s making the pie, who are they making it for and why, etc. and I’m being battered by all these thoughts.

Eventually I’ll come up with something plain like “Grandma’s apple pie sat on the windowsill waiting to cool off while the grandkids played outside and grandpa slept in the recliner in front of the tv.” And that will be all I can do in 5 minutes. Now, given ample time to think through all the random questions, and more than 5 minutes to write, I can make a paragraph that’s completely different and more descriptive.

“Grandma set her freshly baked apple pie on the windowsill to cool off. Its warm, spicy scent wafted through the house, as she had added a little extra cinnamon, just how grandpa liked it. She and her grandkids, Todd and Lily, had picked the apples that morning at the orchard just down the dirt road. Todd and Lily were still outside playing a game of hide and seek while grandpa dozed in his recliner in front of the old tv with the wire rabbit ears. Grandma smiled as she started to wash the dishes in warm soapy water. Once those kids smelled the pie, they would abandon their game and come running inside, begging for a piece of it while it was still hot.”

This paragraph covers more of the senses and is more descriptive that the initial sentence (and yes, it took me about an hour to craft just this last night). This is something that plagues me as a writer. I can work with writing prompts, but not time limits. My brain needs time to process and think through all possibilities and even then, I may not actually perceive ALL the possibilities.

It doesn’t help that I’m mentally bored with my job so naturally my mind kicks in to autopilot halfway through my day. There’s just not enough stimulation there, and then when I’m done with work, I need a break from the mental monotony and instead I dive into more hands-on crafting like my crochet projects.

I know I said I would work more on my writing this year but the last month I’ve really slacked off and I need something to jolt my creative juices again.

Over to you guys! How do you break out of your own ruts and get the creative juices flowing again? I’d love to hear your suggestions and tips!

***************************************************************

And now for a special update!

The past couple days, I’ve been working on one of my mother’s crochet projects because I thought it would be small and easy to crank out in a few hours. Well, it’s turning into a few days, but it’s not all that bad. I needed a break from my blanket and this has been fun. It’s my first amigurumi, the Bumble snow monster from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. He still needs a face and arms, but I’ll work on those later.

Bumble Amigurumi

In addition, I have to commend my mother on starting one of her own sewing projects, which is a quilt of valor for my godmother’s son, who’s a Marine, and she is making considerable progress on it without my prompting. I’m really proud of her for putting as much effort in as she has over the past few days, whenever she had some free time. What she has done looks great. I’ll try to get pictures for next time.