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Saturday, July 07, 2012

Skip The Spoons

Newsflash: It’s summer. And even writers take vacations. I recently returned from a jaunt across the country. Road trips are fantastic ways to revamp the ol’ creative juices, but the creativity doesn’t have to end when you pull into your driveway at home.

When you travel, be on the lookout for souvenirs that twang your creativity. No, not magnets or thimbles with state names emblazoned on them. I’m talking quirky memorabilia that will make you think outside the box next time you’re stuck in the middle of your WIP.

Here’s an example of one writer’s mementos scored while on holiday…

An expando pirate.
Why did I bring this little gem home? Just imagine a character growing to three times his size, changing and morphing into something larger than ever. What inspiration for a character arc! All I need to do is pop this little foam buccaneer into some water and whammo. I’ll have a foot-tall tangible reminder on my desk to make my hero grow into the man he ought to be by the end of the story.
Bring something home that keeps you on track.

A recycled dog treat bin full of cherries.
Granted, I had to throw out the fruit since it was getting kind of white and fuzzy, but the container is enough to bring back a memory. An old lady in a camper pulled alongside my car at a gimmicky gift shop in Montana. She shoved a half-empty plastic bin of cherries out her rolled-down window, saying her tummy was full and she hated to throw them away. This gave me all kinds of plot ideas. What might a swanky salesman in a BMW offer? How about a pimply faced teenager in a beat-up Geo? Or what if a pony-tailed ex-hippie pulled up in a Hummer? What might he say? What might he give? The possibilities are endless.
Bring something home that inspires you.

Green Mukhwas
I haven’t tried this exotic little treat yet, but I expect these candy-coated fennel seeds from India will be like nothing I’ve ever before popped into my mouth. Next time I need an extra zing, like when slogging through the middle of edits, I intend to open up the pack.
Bring something home that encourages you.

Well…chocolate…need I say more?
Bring something home that is chocolate.

So while you’re out and about this summer, be on the lookout for items to bring home that will inspire your creativity. After all, there’s only so many spaces on those U.S.A. shaped spoon racks and when it’s full, game over.

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas…professionally, however, for the past 10 years. Her latest release, UNDERCURRENT, is available by Risen Books. You can find her at: Writer Off the or on TwitterFacebook, or 


  1. What a fun post! You just turned a vacation into a writing exercise!

    1. You just might be on to something there, Beth...what if life is a writing exercise???

  2. This is fun! I am going on vacation week after next. I was hesitant at first and then realized it's a great way to recharge as an artist. I've pretty much shot the neighborhood I live in with my camera. Reading this reminded me to take my vacation journal with me (we'll be driving a lot). Maybe write down descriptions of people who stand out to me (and/or doodle them too). And of course take lots of photos. So glad you included the chocolate! Oh and some new t-shirts and postcards, I love those. I'll look for something inspiring as well.

    1. Definitely get something inspiring as a pick-me-up for the cold winter days when you've forgotten you've EVER been on vacation.

  3. Even better, what might be INSIDE that offering form the old lady? Cherries, ye think, eh? Knowing you, it might end up poison. Muwhahaha


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