Get a Jump Start from Someone Else’s Words

It’s an old writers’ trick to get the creative juices flowing, and it still works wonderfully:

When you’re stuck or in need of inspiration — or just want to do a quick writing exercise — grab a line or two from another writer and use it as the beginning of a freewrite.

I like to jot down sentences that appeal to me while I’m reading and keep them to use later. You can also use lines of poetry or just randomly pull a book off a shelf and use the first sentence you see.

Here are two excerpts from the novel I’m currently reading (Cleaning Nabokov’s House by Leslie Daniels):

Even the clouds had clouds.

The houses on the street where I had parked were old and made of stone or wood. Some had been added to in such ill-conceived ways that they looked like cats wearing lipstick.

If you need a little inspiration, why not try using one of these for a jump start? And feel free to share your creations in the comments section — I’d love to read them!

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6 Responses to “Get a Jump Start from Someone Else’s Words”

  1. 1 Virginia Higgins (@thatbaldchick) August 16, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    What a great idea. I often struggle to get started on a writing project, but this would really help get the ball rolling. Thanks for sharing!

  2. 3 raftyy August 16, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    I’m an aspiring English teacher and writer, and I think this is an amazing way to get me started. Thank you!

    • 4 stranglingmymuse August 16, 2011 at 6:27 pm

      You’re welcome! And best of luck with your writing. I’ve actually written entire stories once or twice by starting this way, then had to go back and change the first sentence to make it mine!


  3. 5 Patrick Ross August 16, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    This is a great idea, Sandy. I just grabbed a book I’m reading right now, Peter Matthiessen’s The Snow Leopard, and came across a fun place to launch: “I grow into these mountains like a moss. I am bewitched.”

    • 6 stranglingmymuse August 16, 2011 at 6:28 pm

      I’m glad you like it, Patrick. I love the Peter Matthiessen quote — I may steal it to use for my next freewrite!


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