Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Trash Can & Other Writing Prompts

  • An overflowing trash can….
  • Do you do any volunteer work?
  • What's your favorite period of history?
  • The wilted roses….
  • She said, "I should have…."
  • Use this quote as inspiration: "There are no secrets better kept than the secrets that everybody guesses." --George Bernard Shaw, from "Mrs. Warren's Profession." 
If you've never used a writing prompt before, you may want to read my sidebar note, "What is a Writing Prompt and Why Would I Use One?"

Photo courtesy of Jason McArthur

Monday, March 21, 2011

Rolling the Dice & Other Writing Prompts

  • Andy rolled the dice. . . .
  • Are you afraid of insects?
  • The last time she called. . . .
  • In 1936. . . .
  • Amy said, "I've never liked. . . ."
Image courtesy of Alan Cleaver

Type A or Writer?

I was reading Anger Management For Dummies-- don't laugh too hard -- it was more of a research thing than an attempt at self-help. But since I knew everyone at my house would like to see my alter-ego, the Deadline Ogre, driven out of our village, I kept reading. 

The more I read, the more I wondered if being a writer is a one-way ticket to being a Type A.

I racked up an impressive five out of seven on the "Do you have an aggressive personality?" quiz, for instance. Competitive, impatient, intense, demanding and forceful in pursuing goals. And the problem is. . . .?

Then I hit the chapter on Type A personality and this heading: "Focusing on who you are rather than what you do." Uh oh. A few pages later, I was advised to take the "tombstone test"--you know, how you want your epitaph to read. "Wrote a best-seller that was so fabulous Oprah returned to doing a talk show just to interview her" was not on the list. I suspect the author would have filed my preferred inscription under a scarlet A.

But, hey, I could do the rest of the how-to-get-over-being-Type-A suggestions. I can play games without having to win. I don't wear a watch. I do my best not to be in a hurry all the time. And the section on finding the right work environment--heck, I work at home! No problem there, right? "Type A's...tend most often to seek out places to work that are hard driving, time pressured, frenetic, competitive, and full of deadlines." Well. So much for that theory. You can't be a writer without deadlines, sorry, and all of those other adjectives as well.

After the Type A chapter, I became skeptical about my chances of transforming to the (desired) Type B personality while still being a writer. I kept reading, noting that I was already on track with most of the suggestions about being tolerant, forgiving, and responsible for my own actions. When I got to the chapter about adding balance to your life, this sentence got me: "Is your personality too one-dimensional--work, work, and more work?" Of course I work all the time. Are there professional writers who don't?

Ideas and deadlines don't stop at 5:00 p.m. If I didn't like what I do, that would be a problem--but my work is the most fun I have all day. Most of my writing is travel writing, which means that not only do I get to read and write about fun stuff all day, I also get to go do those fun things on a regular basis--and that's "work" for me. Yes, I'm constantly on the computer, or taking pictures, or reading, or scribbling notes--and that's way more fun than cooking dinner, doing dishes, or pretty much anything else I can think of.

Does my single-mindedness make me a Type A? Probably. But I think I did something better for my Type A personality than futilely attempting to change it. I elected to change my career to something fulfilling and meaningful to me. Call me Type A if you want to, but I think I'm just a writer.
Photo courtesy of Denis Dervisevic