To Turn a Phrase

I have a notebook in which I write down quotes, phrases, lyrics, odd bits of words strung together — all of which have struck a chord or caused a vivid image to appear in my mind.  I flick through these when I’m looking for inspiration.  When I painted a lot, they became the catalyst for images to transfer to canvas.  Now, many of them become inspiration for titles or future plots.  Some of them are so persistent I’m forced to write several hundred to several thousand words just to get them to stop running around in my head.

These sniglets occupy several notebooks and computerized files, but are otherwise homeless.  They may be scenes, character sketches, or just a reaction.  Quick exercises to keep my writing brain engaged.

The other morning on the way to the day job, on comes one of my all-time favorite songs, Twilight Zone by Golden Earrings.  That song is just begging for some inspired writing take-off. Think of all the possibilities with a line like:

 “Where am I to go, now that I’ve gone too far?”

This is the kind of stuff that sends characters scrambling through my head in search of their scripts as they trundle off to the wardrobe department.

Another one that’s been pestering me, this section from The Man Who Sold the World:

“I thought you died alone, a long long time ago
Oh no, not me
I never lost control
You’re face to face
With The Man Who Sold The World”

It’s not just quotes and song lyrics, though.  There are phrases like these:

The Fireborn
Drawn by Day
The Disregarded Time Keeper
Before there were gods
It’s only Forever
Roaming the Darklands

All fuel for the ever-active imagination.

So, where do you head for inspiration?  What types of things get your creative juices flowing?

 Write on!


  1. I’ve also kept a file of story ideas, or more precisely, potential story ideas. Sadly, I’ve never gotten much from the resource, usually because if a *really* good story idea comes along, I’ll drop everything to work on it. I’m giving serious thought to halting work on our monumental yard project to pursue one such idea. I hate to lose momentum on one project in order to develop momentum on another. I admire your ability to keep so many different things juggled at one time. –SOTS

    • I’m sure your better half would have something to say about abandoning the landscaping project. ;p Trust me, the juggling act strains the grey matter more often than not. But it also seems to be an addiction.

  2. I have a notebook of words, phrases, and lyrics as well. I use them in my art journal or for inspiration when I’m in a rut. The world is full of so many beautiful ideas and thoughts, it’s hard not to stop and admire.

  3. I just get random ideas too. 🙂 I’m going to sit down soon and actually work on getting some ideas going. I’m feeling very thirsty for new ideas.

    • It’s fun to just leaf through that notebook and look back at what struck a chord years ago. Sometimes I find it still does, sometimes not. It’s also a bit dangerous because then I start veering off and coming up with all sorts of new ideas . . . too many on the burner now! LOL

  4. Yes, I keep a lot of “homeless” phrases like you’re talking about. Sometimes I’m able to use it, most times not. Inspiration comes to me in all forms, even a leaf on the ground will inspire me into a story idea. I would say that I spend more than half my time in the creative world than I do in the real world, just dreaming about what I can write next.

    • LOL Oh yes, I can definitely relate to this: “I would say that I spend more than half my time in the creative world than I do in the real world, just dreaming about what I can write next.” My mind is an active place, and it’s very hard to find the off switch.

  5. Love the examples you posted!

    Me? My dreams are my greatest source of inspiration. I tend to dream entire movies, many of which have become novels. 🙂 I love my Muses!

    • My dreams are so bizarre I’m not sure what I’d be able to make of them! LOL Plus, I’m a lucid dreamer and tend to re-write them as they go along. Even in the sub-conscious I’m beset by re-writeritis!

  6. I’m also a magpie when it comes to words, phrases, song lyrics or pictures. They all go into a journal or visual diary for any time I need a little bit of ‘something’ in my work. Even if they’re not exactly what I’m looking for, they’re often enough to stir up the creative juices. By the way I’ve never heard of a sniglet… but I’m going to put that in too! Great post.

    • Thanks for stopping by Raewyn. 🙂 And for the Tweet! Hmm…sniglet…I might have made that word up. I’ve just always used it to name little bits of writing without homes. Poor things need to be called something. 😉

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