A SPARK OF
Idea Jars for Writers
Sometimes the muse just
Quite often, when I'm trying to write, nothing will come. I despise
sitting in front of the computer, or at my journal, staring at a blank
page. I find that when I have no idea what to write, or the Muse just
isn't there to give me guidance, it's hard to force out words with
nothing to inspire them.
There are many ways to kick start your imagination, but I find that
nothing works better than an Idea Jar. A piece of writing created with
the help of an Idea Jar may not be something that will fit a novel or a
short story, but the plan is to clear your head so that the writer's
block goes away. And sometimes, let's face it: the Muses need a little
What the heck are Idea Jars?
Idea Jars are great things for writers to create. They're jars (or
bowls, or whatever you'd like to use) filled with pieces of paper with
ideas on them. At times when you want to write and the Muse isn't there
to help you, you can pull a piece of paper from the Idea Jar and have a
Some believe that the format for Idea Jars started as a party game,
kind of like an 18th century version of Telephone or Telegram. Someone
would pull a piece of paper out of a jar or bowl and start a
conversation. The next person would pull out another piece of paper and
use what was written there as their response, and so on.
The Idea Jar works in very much the same way, except we're really
opening a door for our imagination and giving our writing a spark to
light that fire.
What you'll need
A jar or bowl. You can even decorate
your jar so that you feel it's a good place to store ideas.
A pair of scissors.
What to do
Take your pen and paper and start
writing little snippets or words, whatever comes to mind. Don't even
think of what you're writing; just get them down on paper. Leave a
bit of space between each word or phrase.
When you're done, your page should look
something like this:
I went sailing today with John
There are monsters under my bed
Coffee keeps me awake
The stars are bright tonight
A statue comes to life
We are the brain behind computers
Blue stones on my tongue
Stars are wishes held in place
Do you hear the music?
Once you have your sheet filled (or
several sheets -- You can have as many ideas as you want), cut the paper
so each phrase, snippet, or word is on a separate piece of paper. Then
put them in your Idea Jar and mix them up.
You can even print out this page and cut
up the ideas I've written above, just to get you started.
Next time you're sitting at the computer
or with a blank page in front of you and nothing to write, dip your hand
into the Idea Jar, pull out a piece of paper, and use what's there to
get your started. It works, try it!
Whatever you write, it can be the
starting point for a short story, a novel, a poem, or just a refresher
for your Muse and imagination. Either way, that spark will be lit and
the possibilities are endless.
Now that you have your very own idea
jar, ideas will always be at your fingertips!
Jamieson is the author of the books Electric Pink, Electric
Blue, Garden City: Collected Fiction, and Finding the
Muse: Finding the Inspiration to Write.
His work has been published in Mytholog,
Slow Trains Literary Journal, Twilight Times, Clean
Sheets, The Dark Krypt, Rain Tiger, SunPiper Press,
The House of Pain, and Long Story Short. His poetry has
been published in The Everyman Journal, Shoestrings Poetry,
and The Poetry Corner, among others.
also a Senior Reviewer at Linear Reflections: The Review Site,
where he has written over a hundred book and movie reviews. One of his
reviews, for The Witches of Eastwick, was published in the book
Susan Sarandon: A True Maverick. He is teaching an online course
for A Long Story Short School of Writing entitled The Muse, which
will focus on writing from inspiration.
Jamieson currently lives in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada with his partner and
his cat (and sometimes Muse) Mave. More information about Jamieson and
his work can be found at his site: