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Wednesday Writing Prompt: Boredom as Inspiration

Wednesday Writing Prompt: Boredom as Inspiration

by Heather E. Schwartz

I feel like I shouldn’t say this. But I’m going to anyway. I find myself really inspired by new writing ideas when I’m supposed to be paying attention to something else. This is most likely to happen during a class or at a lecture or a meeting that takes a turn for the boring or lasts a bit beyond what my attention span can endure. My mind wanders and almost automatically heads in the direction of ideas for my writing. Over the years, this has happened on such a regular basis, I’ve actually considered attending a dull-sounding meeting I don’t belong at just to spark my personal creativity.

Since we’re talking writing prompts here, that’s what I’m proposing you do!

Now, in the interest of promoting responsible and polite behavior, I do have to set a few ground rules here. Don’t try this during:

an important and required class.

a lecture you’ll be tested on or questioned about in any way.

a meeting you’re covering as a reporter for your local newspaper.

And now, the fun part…

Do find an event you can attend that doesn’t require your strict attention. Pick one with a large audience, so your daydreaming won’t be apparent (and possibly rude). Bring a notebook and pen, and blend into the crowd. At first, just listen. Then, let your mind take off on tangents. As the speaker’s voice fades into the background, jot down your ideas. Write scenes and character sketches. Plot out plots. Transcribe conversations. When you lose inspiration, listen some more. See what you come up with when you stop trying to control your mind (by forcing yourself to pay attention) and just let go.

I’d love to know where your creative thoughts take you – and where you go for this exercise!

About the author: Heather E. Schwartz is the editorial director and publisher of Write in the Middle (, a webzine for middle school students about writing and publishing. Since 1994, she has held staff positions at newspapers and national magazines, and she has written hundreds of freelance articles for children’s publications including National Geographic Kids, Discovery Girls, Teen, Guideposts for Kids, Guideposts for Teens, and Girls’ Life. She is the author of more than 25 nonfiction books for children and teens published by Capstone Press, Lucent Books, Tangerine Press (a Scholastic imprint), Lerner Publishing Group, and Teacher Created Materials. In addition, she has developed curriculum and taught workshops for the local affiliate of Girls, Inc. in her community, job coached special education students in her local community, and tutored through Literacy Volunteers.

4 Responses

  1. jocelyn koehler

    mmm, very true. I always got great ideas for stories while sitting in lecture halls, or when stuck behind a store counter.

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