In Search of a Writing Structure

Tonight, I have been sitting here for over an hour perusing news stories and Calls for Submissions trying to find a topic on which to write. I don’t mind writing once I have a topic, but sometimes figuring out what to write about is a pain in the butt. Tonight is one of those times.

I have written for a long time and for much of that time I have been driven to get words down on the page. I have had stories to tell of my childhood or about an encounter of this or that and I’ve felt compelled to write them down. Also, I have made up stories that were either short or long and, again, I have felt a need to tell those stories to whoever would read them. Now, I am at a juncture. I still want to tell stories, but now I am asking myself, “What kind?” I have written almost all the salient stories from my youth, at least many of them. Now I am in sore need of help to decide where to go from here. Got any ideas?

I keep thinking that if I had a theme or a project I could devote myself to for the next while, then that would be ideal. For example, if I decided to write a short story a day based on paintings from a particular artist, now that might offer both some inspiration as well as structure. Or else, I could decide to listen to a series of musical pieces from a composer and then write what I “see” from my listening. That might prove edifying. Or else, I could do what Robert Olen Butler does, which is to collect old postcards and write short stories based on either the picture on the card or the message from the sender or perhaps a combination of the two. Or for nonfiction, I could write a short piece about whatever I find myself doing at an agreed upon time of day, say 4:30 pm, and add a picture of wherever I am to the post. Each of these would help me to keep up my 20 minutes a day pledge to write while teaching me something about writing with these particular prompts. Alas, what to pick?

I could also impose a bit of structure to my blog by having specific days for specific topics. For example, Monday, Wednesday and Fridays could be memoir/nonfiction days and Tuesday, Thursdays and Saturdays could be fiction. Sunday could be a neutral day. My problem with this one is that I might find myself wanting to post a fiction piece on a nonfiction day or vice versa. Of course, if I ever could get ahead in my writing, I could just pull a piece from a file labeled fiction or nonfiction. Alas, I have never been that organized.

I suppose I could do any of the above with the commitment of a week and see how it goes. That way I don’t get myself stuck in a process I don’t like. A week might give me enough time to adequately explore the process I’m undertaking without making me feel too confined by it.

Please weigh in, dear readers, if you have any preferences on a structure within which I could write for the next while. I am all ears. If you have topics you are interested in or have heard of topics or techniques that others have used to their success, please share. Whatever the case, I believe that I will be adopting some approach for whatever time seems reasonable with a start date of the next couple of days.

On that note, I think I’ll crawl into my bed and watch television. Not that I have anything in mind to watch. I might be re-watching episodes from Perry Mason for all I know though surely I can find something more interesting than that. Whatever the case, I believe I will call my writing a wrap for tonight.

Good night, my friends. I hope you have a lovely evening.

Remember – if you have any suggestions, I am open. Just share your ideas in the comments section.


9 thoughts on “In Search of a Writing Structure”

  1. Len, This is a great post about your writing process and choices…and I like the various possibilities you described. I especially like the theme ideas — to write inspired by a piece of art or music. Would like to see what you come up with. Good luck — hope you can stretch and enjoy!

  2. I see lots of prompts and challenges all over the place. Maybe you can pick one a week on a given day. I can’t stick to more than two posts a week so I’ll not be any help to you.
    You can also pick a word from the picture above… 🙂

  3. Len—I always love your writings, no matter which topic you choose—but I would be partial to reading your writings about musical selections and how they affect you.
    Last year, after not being able to travel for many years, I went on twelve trips to make up for lost time—all very different from each other. I decided this year, there should be some structure to my travels—so music festivals is the underlying theme—I’m trying to see the country by going to music festivals in various parts of the country—so that is no doubt affecting what I just said to you—same concept, different application.
    Gayle Parsons

  4. Excellent noodling of writing possibilities. Thanks for sharing so the rest of us can borrow the ideas for our own ‘what can I write nows.’ Being more of a word person than a visual or aural one, I have often gotten an inspirational jolt from reading quotes from some of the gracious minds of our time and times past. You might add quotes to your list of sources, give them a whirl. I have started a collection of quotes that I add to regularly under Voices on my website, Coming of Age Croneicles (, and anyone’s welcome to use whatever they find there. Thank you for your many hours and days of inspiration and encouragement, Len. A morning without Len and her world would be a hard one for me to see through to the end. Hugs, my teacher and special friend. ~ Ann

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