Writing Wednesday: Keep the random lines

I’ve found that it’s common among writers to have random lines pop into our heads at any time of the day or night. It’s just as common, and I’m also guilty of it, to think, “That’s wonderful, I really like that.” Then, the thought vanishes back into the mist.

I started a practice a few months ago with the intent of saving these lines when I could. I found that if I write them down they sit there on the paper, waiting for me to rediscover them. There’s no attachment to any particular story or poem, they’re just snapshots of the quality of writing I’m capable of. What I discovered is they absolutely inspire me and bolster my confidence. Sometimes a random line will grow into a poem, so I did learn to leave some space between the lines. Now I put one line per page in my notebook. I can add thoughts and other lines later as they come.

I don’t know if anyone else will find these lines to be exceptional, but that’s okay. I’m not sharing that notebook with the world. This is just a thing for me.

It also grew to include lines I read in other works. The most recent example was from a story by the Chinese author, Priest. I didn’t even copy the entire passage, just the part that hit home.

“Her feet assaulted the pavement.”

Wow. Just wow. I would never have considered describing it that way! Under that line, I now have a list of words and potential replacements for them. Reading that one line made me step back and think about all the ways to describe an action and it unlocked something in my brain. The down side is that now I have to go back through the entire first book of the Half-Life series and see what I can beef up. It’s not every line, or even most, but it really has boosted the quality and impact of the writing to a new level.

I’ve been keeping this notebook for a while now. It started when I was writing the trilogy and I kept surprising myself. At first it was just the lines I’d already written, and now it’s random “oh, that’s interesting” thoughts. On that note, I’ll share my first entry and my most recent with you. I hope it’ll inspire you to keep something similar.

First entry:

If Jon’s eyes were like a pool in the summer sun, Jonah’s were like the glittering, blue ice at the bottom of an iceberg. (Salvation Triad, Chasing Freedom, Ch 4)

Newest entry:

If I sketch the outlines of my love, will insecure winds blur them into obscurity? (Random entry from last Monday.)

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