Group Writing Projects

4 x 4 Sources of Writing Inspiration: Group Writing Project Results

The moment has come. The mob, breathlessly anticipating the coming debacle, stand as one, imbuing the unholy event with the honor of their attention. The beast roars triumphant as, released, it leaps forward in anticipation of assured victory! The moment is now!

Yes, it’s time to post the results of the 4×4 Sources Of Writing Inspiration Group Writing Project

Before I post the links and the excerpts that meant the most to me, a few general reflections. First off, there were 19 entries in total, including my own, one (inspired) non-entry from Robert Hruzek, and four contributions from Amy Palko at Lives Less Ordinary, giving her the space to explore in more depth the different kind of places that move her to write.

I was delighted to meet so many new readers and writers through this project, reaffirming my belief that Group Writing Projects are a great way to make new connections and weave our words together.

I know that some of you found inspiration a slightly awkward topic to begin with and yes I know that one too: who am I to call my words inspired…but the answer still comes: who are you not to call your words inspired? (think Mariane Williamson) And I am glad something about the challenge of a project and the generativity of the form helped you to overcome your awkwardness and find the right words.

4 x 4 sources of writing inspiration

These contributions hold so many ideas, sources, prompts, triggers to get us writing that I hesitate to draw general lessons… but sticking to the 4 x 4 idea I did come up with 16 sources that emerged from my reading of the entries:

Places (natural, open, wild, free); places (populated, full of people’s stories); walking; our 5 senses; memories; imagination; working (the most basic of tasks: cutting the grass, cooking, washing dishes); people (writers, authors, bloggers, friends); books; poems; blogs; quotes; writing triggers and prompts; writing challenges and assignments (including group writing projects); things that unspire us - moving us to learn from them, to avoid them, to nurture our muse around them; knowing that it’s time to say something important.

Knowing that it’s time to write.

So here we go.

Sources of Writing Inspiration: Contributions To The Group Writing Project

Here are the entries including short excerpts selected by me. I wanted to include a flavour of these pieces as well as the links to tempt you to go and explore these wonderful blogs.

#1 Damien Riley at Postcards From the Funny Farm: 4 x 4 Ways To Foster Inspiration For Your Writing

That hillbilly country song “If mamma aint happy, aint nobody happy” is truth like a flood light for writers, especially if you’re a mamma I am sure! ;) Make sure your wife, kids, dog, salesman at the door etc. are all happy and satisfied before you sit down to attempt to write. 1. Play with your kids. 2. Sit next to your spouse and turn off your computer. 3. Talk. 4. Laugh and sing as you do the dishes (some of my best ideas have come doing the dishes).

#2 Robert at Reason4Smile: 4×4 lists of my writing inspiration

Quotes that encourage me to write… 3. “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you will not come out with anything that is original.” ~Ken Robinson. This quote encourages me to be courageous, dare to make mistakes, especially when I’m writing some thought-provoking articles.

#3 Robert Hruzek at Middle Zone Musings: Sources Of Inspiration 4 x 4 Writing Project

Having traveled quite a bit, I can name several places that stand out in my memory as having been absolutely incredible adventures - and natural inspirations for many of the stories you read here…

By the way, some have made a comment or two about how me and weather always seem to be at odds with each other. While it’s true that many of my most inspirational moments occur due to some sort of weather-related phenomenon (three of the four listed above, for instance)… well, OK - they’re right *sigh*. Never mind.

#4 My entry: My 4×4 Sources of Writing Inspiration

Quotes That Give Fuel To My Fire-Breathing Writing Dragon… 3. “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars” (Oscar Wilde)

#5 Dale over at Paragraph City: 4 x 4 Chasing Dust Bunnies

Busy myself with my hands, washing dishes or shoveling snow or mowing grass. When the machine begins to run warm in one of its familiar routines, the mind can step back and do its unconscious work. A neighbor walking by waves and asks how it’s going and I plunge the shovel into the snow pile by the driveway’s edge and push against the small of my back and grin at her and say “Fine, fine. It’s a good day” and I will have things to write about.

#6 Amy Palko at Lives Less Ordinary: Imaginary Places

A look back at

those special places in children’s fiction, which evoke that part of ourselves we set aside in order to grow up.

#7 Amy Palko at Lives Less Ordinary: Virtual Places

For me blogs are like an extension of the blogger who produces them. I often feel as though I’ve been invited into their (virtual) home for a brief while, and when I leave I take with me a new way of thinking about something. Blogs don’t just offer me a great source of entertainment, but they alter my perception. So here are a few of the blogs that I know will offer that inspirational spark…

(check the post to find them - some gems!)

#8 Amy Palko at Lives Less Ordinary: Unpopulated Places

Beachcombing: There is something just so magical about strolling along the strand
line, hoping for that serendipitous find. Because you never really know what you’re going to find as you work your way through the detritus washed up on the shore. That fantastic element of beachcombing is that the connections you make between what has been washed ashore can often seem completely random, but later appear to be a part of some larger thought.

#9 Amy Palko at Lives Less Ordinary: Populated Places

Airports: I find the arrivals gates at airports incredibly emotionally charged places; all that anticipation as folk stand around waiting for their much missed loved ones to negotiate their way through customs, and finally exit through the sliding doors, pushing their overloaded trolley, expectantly glancing around for a familiar face amongst the crowd. Stories abound in places like this. If you don’t find inspiration at a busy airport, you’re just not trying!

#10 Marcia at Tumbled Words: 4 x 4 Writing Challenge - Inspiration and Writing

NaNoWriMo - Making the decision to try writing my first novel when I had only written a handful of stories. I wrote strictly by instinct - no plan. Have yet to go back and finish it, but it was the most remarkable feeling every day of those 30 days I have ever had, and each time I pick it up, the feeling returns.

#11Holly at Re:Thinking, Teaching, Writing: 4 x 4 Writing Inspirations

Working at relatively mindless, repetitive tasks helps my mind to wander. Greek cooking seems especially good for this, rolling koulouraki or stuffed grape leaves for Easter dinner, but I’ve done other things as well: working in the dish room at college, scraping catsup-soaked remains into the garbage disposal, peeling dozens and dozens of hardboiled eggs all day, or outside pulling weeds in the garden, down on hands and knees, scratching soil loose with cultivator, then ripping weeds out by their root hairs.

#12 GL at What Would Dad Say: 4 x 4

As I drive to work. Most of the topics come to me as I drive to work. Something I see must trigger something in my writing oblganta part of the brain…because more often than not, when I get to my desk, coffee in hand, I start on the blog. It never takes more than 15-30 minutes. (writing hint: make up words as you go along if you need to.)

#13 Good word editing: 4 x 4 - Farmers, Ferries, Fools, and Faithless Chihuahua Dogs: Sandwiched Between Two Walts are William and Wendell

When I’m lost for words, I can always find inspiration from the words that came before me…
On my first trip to NYC, I only had 8 hours. Still, I managed to buy a copy of Leaves of Grass from the Strand and find a bench in the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge that replaced the Brooklyn Ferry Walt took. I read the poem aloud to my friends, and surprised us all by weeping toward the end. If you’re a writer, remember. It avails not–time nor place. I am with you. Just as you feel, I felt. Our words carry a bit of the eternal in them.

#14 Shari at Blog About It with 4 x 4 sources of writing inspiration

Permission to mess up: When I know it’s okay to write badly, then I can get beyond the voice that says Don’t even try. 1.When it’s only a first draft and there’s time to revise 2. Writing in my journal knowing no one will ever see it 3. When I can’t think of anything productive to write and I have to begin the action of writing 4. When I’m taking notes collecting information, my thoughts and ideas

#15 Shelly at This Eclectic Life: Sources of Inspiration in Four Part Harmony

Lost in a crowd. I’m a people watcher; a voyeur. In a casino, I’m not gambling, I’m watching the gamblers and “living” through their eyes. I’ve been known to follow people around just to watch their expressions and listen to their voices. On a crowded city street, I’m that maniac who is looking you right in the eye. I’m not a stalker, really! My storytelling is peopled with folks I have seen in real life. It’s “character study.”

#16 Glenn at My Little Piece Of The Internet: 4×4 Group Writing Project

Four books (of many) which made me want to be a writer: 2. No Country For Old Men, by Cormac McCarthy: Proof that great writing does not have to be obfuscated by grandiose language, complex syntax, or even commas. I loved the movie, I loved the book, but it was the style which had the greatest impact on me.

#17 Bob Loch at Backyard Conversations: My 4×4 Assignment

Sounds… I am in awe of the sounds that accompany an early morning fishing trip. The splash of the boat in the water as the ripples spread across the glass surface and thump an old tire against the dock. There is the hum of a small 5 horsepower Johnson motor propelling you to that secluded spot that is cradled between a wooded shoreline and brown thicket of reeds. The red wing black birds call out as your reel wines, finishing with a plop of your bobber in the water a few feet away.

#18 Catherine at Sharp Words: 4×4 inspirations for writing

Random thoughts while driving. Three times a week, most weeks, I spend about two hours driving through some beautiful countryside to my official office, and then another two hours home again. Although the driving bores me, and I have to listen to the radio or CDs while I drive to keep me alert enough, I’ve found that my imagination goes off on its own little trip. Sometimes I wish I had a voice recorder to keep track of the stories that write themselves in my head! Things I see (particularly the changing of the seasons) or hear on the radio are also good catalysts, especially for short stories and poems.

I hope you all enjoy exploring these posts and learning something about the sources of our inspiration to write.

Thanks and Credits

There was a small prize for this competition, drawn randomly from the entries. The Writer’s Block goes to Catherine at Sharp Words.

Thanks again to Valeria Maltoni The Conversation Agent for inspiring me to take a tag and turn it into a group writing project - Valeria, I’m sure you’ll enjoy seeing where your words and this conversation have gone…

The opening quote is from Robert Hruzek’s non-entry (#19): What Inspires me?

No group writing project this month, but if you’d like to add your words to the Confident Writing mix send in your one line answer to the question: what does powerful writing mean to you? More details here.

Joanna Young, The Confident Writing Coach
Because our words count

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10 Responses to “4 x 4 Sources of Writing Inspiration: Group Writing Project Results”

  1. On April 3, 2008 at 2:19 am gl hoffman responded with... #

    My first time participating in a writers’ project, I enjoyed being in such great company.

  2. On April 3, 2008 at 9:27 am amypalko responded with... #

    You do such great overviews of your projects, Joanna. It’s always such a pleasure to participate and a great way to find new blogs to read. Thank you for going to all the time and effort!

    Oh, and congratulations to Catherine on winning the book. I hope it brings you plenty of inspiration :-)

  3. On April 3, 2008 at 10:43 am Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    GL, I’m glad you enjoyed it. I certainly enjoyed reading and reviewing yours and the other entries.

    Amy, thank you. People put so much of themselves into their entries it seems only right to take some trouble with the round up.

    There are some great blogs you’ll find here - I hope you enjoy exploring.


  4. On April 3, 2008 at 12:57 pm Yvonne Russell (Grow Your Writing Business) responded with... #

    What a great response to your GWP Joanna. I’m off to read the entries.

  5. On April 3, 2008 at 1:03 pm Robert Hruzek responded with... #

    It’s always such an honor to be counted among such great writing. Thanks, Joanna, for organizing this project. A great finish to a great subject!

  6. On April 3, 2008 at 1:43 pm Catherine @ Sharp Words responded with... #

    Again, thanks for co-ordinating this, Joanna - I’m looking forward to browsing through the entries later on. Just reading through the excerpts this morning was inspiring in itself - and when I read to the bottom and found out that I’d won The Writer’s Block, it made my day! It couldn’t have come at a better time, as I’m taking part in National Poetry Writing Month and was starting to wonder where I’d find ideas for 30 poems!
    Thank you!

  7. On April 3, 2008 at 2:12 pm Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Yvonne, there are some great finds in there - and great ideas for keeping our writing inspired…

    Robert - thanks so much for your two brilliant entries. I couldn’t resist quoting you as the lead in to the round up :-)


  8. On April 3, 2008 at 2:28 pm Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Catherine, what great timing! I hope the book will help to trigger some inspired poetry :-)

    Thanks again for taking part


  9. On April 5, 2008 at 11:38 pm Robert | reason4smile responded with... #

    Hi Joanna, I really enjoy taking part of this group writing. Thanks for the link and the short excerpt.


  10. On April 6, 2008 at 9:51 am Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Robert, I’m glad you enjoyed taking part. I really enjoyed reading them too and learned such a lot about sources of inspiration. I’ll never have an excuse to be stuck with my writing again!



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