Here’s a good exercise to get you scribbling in your writing journal:
Create a “story map” of your neighborhood.
It doesn’t have to be exact. Just use it to help you remember stories – things that happened to you.
Use the map to mark spots where those interesting things happened.
Where did you first ride your bike? Where did you play sports? Did you explore a wild area? Did you ever find something that someone lost?
Where did you walk your pet? Did you have favorite short-cuts?
What stories come to your mind? Were there places that fun things happened? Exciting things? Surprising things?
Creative places like forts and secret hideouts?
You get the idea.
I remember for instance a particular telephone pole in a dark alley a block from my house . . . that I ran into on Halloween night. You see, I was dressed as a pirate, with a patch over one eye. And I’d just started wearing glasses, but didn’t wear them that night because pirates don’t wear glasses. . . . So I was a near-sighted pirate with poor depth-perception on a dark night in an alley, running to get as much candy as I could. . . . Thunk!
It was the shortest trick-or-treating night ever (for me). But my sweet little sister went around and begged double candy; the extra for her idiot older brother . . . but of course, she took her cut of the extra loot. . . .
And I can think of all that by remembering that alley and its telephone pole.
It’s curious. A map really can help you remember stories. And all those special things you did. Amazing or funny things that happened. Things you discovered. And people. And more.
The more you work on your map . . . the more things you’ll think of!
(For more on how to use this, here’s a blog post by Bruce Black, who has a blog about writing called Wordswimmer. And it came to him from a great author, Jack Gantos, who writes a lot of very fun books – the Joey Pizga books, the Rotten Ralph books, and more. You can see an online interview with Jack at TeachingBooks.net; just go to that website and use the search tool to look for Gantos and his “TeachingBooks Original Author Program.” It’s a great 5-minute video.)