One question I am often asked when I give talks on writing is, “Where do you get your ideas?”
Ideas for writing come from a plethora of areas: through prayer (my number one resource), from situations I’ve experienced, from things I’ve read or heard about, through things I see on a walk or from places I’ve visited, etc. But I learned early on that sometimes I need a bit of help to spark those ideas. And that’s when I came up with my Creative Cache.
What is a Creative Cache?
Actually, a Creative Cache is just a fancy name for an Idea Box. This is where you store all those little (or big, if you have the room) items that will inspire your upcoming stories. I think every writer should have one.
I found a small, unfinished wood treasure box at Michael’s art supplies that I currently use for my Creative Cache. And what do I keep inside? I have a piece of coral that looks like a rose, a weird-shaped rock that looks like a heart, fragments of colored glass from old bottles, some little shells, some bits of old pottery, some interesting rocks, and a little stick that reminds me of a shepherd’s staff.
The coral came from a friend who vacationed on a tropical island. Some other items were from visits to ruins of old towns. The shells, of course, were from a trip to the beach. These little collectibles are my story starters. They are little sparks of an idea that will bring a mystery or an adventure to life.
How a Creative Cache Can Help Your Writing
When friends and family go on trips, I encourage them to find me little out of the ordinary things that I can use for inspiration. I tell them it can be anything, even an old button or a bottle cap they find. And I keep them inside my Creative Cache. Then, when I have time to write a new story or when I’m trying to fight a bout of writer’s block, I can open my little treasure chest and pull out what could be the start of a grand adventure.
Having a visual “something” really helps stimulate my mind. A rock or a piece of glass or a bit of cloth is tangible, and it helps me to imagine what “story” that item was involved in.
For example, the coral “rose”? That unique piece of God’s creation sparked a fun idea about a couple of kids solving an old family mystery. And the heart-shaped rock? That will become a mystery story about a pioneer family heading out West. And the colored pieces of glass? Well, with a little bit of thought, I will have to see where that idea will lead me.
Making Your Own Creative Cache
If you don’t already have your own Creative Cache or Idea Box, you may want to start one. You don’t need a super extravagant container, or even an expensive one. A shoe box or a small storage container will work. The choice is yours. You might even consider an old cigar box, which, by the way, did inspire another story idea for me.
Consider adding a bit of personality to your Creative Cache. Paint your box, add colorful stickers, or glue on some inspirational quotes. I haven’t decorated mine, primarily because to me the inside is more important than the outside.
A Creative Cache is a fun way to ignite your imagination and give your writing a fresh burst of creativity.
What would you put in your Creative Cache?
Catherine L. Osornio has written inspirational articles for a women’s ministry newsletter, over 200 leveled reader stories for a school’s reading program, fiction and nonfiction articles for Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr. magazines, The Declaration of Independence from A to Z, plus various work-for-hire projects. A former elementary school librarian, Catherine is passionate about sharing the love of reading. She enjoys cartooning, illustration, and reading kids’ books. Email her at CLOsornio@verizon.net or visit her at www.catherineosornio.com.