I've been running a lot of "heavy" posts lately; time to lighten up a bit. To this end, I picked up The Pocket Muse: Ideas and Inspiration for Writing (2002) by Monica Wood. It is just a collection of suggestive photos and queries designed to get writers thinking about new topics in creative ways. The standard B'nacle methods are okay: news stories, books, personal experiences, other blog posts. But a new approach goes a long way. Look how successful VSM has been with a few new ideas.
One might think that B'nacle topics would sort of get used up after awhile. While some topics do get reused on a regular basis, the fact is you can blog on just about anything by looking at it through the Mormon prism. Mormonism is something like a comprehensive world view with its own history, values, and culture. Topics that don't touch on Mormonism directly can almost always have a "Mo app" paragraph (that's for "Mormon application") tagged on at the end. Maybe this is just the result of my having taught LDS Sunday School for so long that I have learned how to spin almost any topic into a question discussable by a roomful of Mormons. Don't you find that most topics can be related in one way or another to the Church or your LDS beliefs? (Uh, you don't have to answer that, I'm just illustrating how it's done.)
Anyway, here are a few ideas from the first few pages of The Pocket Muse, with my italicized comments. After I make the list, I'll pick one and write a bit.
- Write about someone who is pretending to be someone or something that he is not. I read a whole book on this last year and posted on it here and here, but it is still a topic you can run with.
- Pick a topic and make two parallel lists, one listing what you know about the topic and the second listing everything you would like to know about the topic.
- Invent an opposite. This can be surprisingly enlightening. For example, it dawned on me not too long ago that faith and doubt are not at all opposites but actually move in tandem: significant doubts call forth greater faith if one is to "stay the course."
- Search and Destroy. Mercilessly cut out blather from your posts: reread and delete the fat. Rare is the post that has anything that takes more than three paragraphs to say. Long, rambling posts mean few readers.
- The Bible is a magical repository for story ideas. Every story is a metaphor with limitless possibilities for retelling. That's an exact quote; I swear I didn't lift it from one of Rosalynde's T&S posts.
- You have to be willing to write badly. I confess, I spend too much time reviewing before posting. I'm not yet willing to write badly. I should try a "write it once and post it" exercise sometime.
Okay, here's one paragraph on someone pretending to be someone they are not: the LDS missionary who thinks they know, but upon entering the MTC or their assigned mission area discovers they don't really know. Problem is, they are required to mouth the words "I know the Church is true" in one form or another several times each day. This is a real moment of crisis for many LDS missionaries. Some dig deep and find they actually do know. Others dig deep, find they don't know, then put in the study and prayer to get there. A few find that nothing salves their doubt and go through an entire mission "pretending to be someone they are not," a rather sad outcome. And a few choose to buy a plane ticket home, arguably the best course for one who belatedly discovers they have no business serving as a missionary. I suppose there are other LDS examples of this "pretending to be" pattern, but the missionary case is arguably the most poignant.