Tiny Collections

I am a collector of small things. One of the great things about being a writer is that even a hobby like collecting can be part of the job. Do you like to write? Here are a three collections you could start for yourself.

I’ve been collecting postcards and photographs since my great aunt started sending me art postcards before I could read or write. Hundreds of postcards and photographs fit nicely in a shoebox. Read my last post to discover how collecting images inspires my writing.

In elementary school I started collecting names. The smallest notebook has space for dozens of names. Characters like LeRoy Pence (Dear Papa), Harold Sylvester George Klein (Little Klein), and Verlon Leek (Button Down) were inspired by names I collected as far back as 3rd grade. Whenever you hear a name that you like the sound of, or is interesting to you, write it down.

And my favorite tiny collection? Words. I keep my words on small slips of paper in an ordinary jar. Sometimes a word just strikes my fancy and I’ll write it down: labyrinth. If I’m feeling verb-y, I’ll go to a cookbook and write down all the action words: mix, stir, whisk, sift… Sometimes I start thinking of a group of words and add a bunch at once. Recently I added words I like saying out loud: Iowa, Ohio, Maori, autumn, iota, swift, oriel, oleo.

I started collecting words with my writers group several years ago. We drew words from our word jars each time we met, then each of us would write something using the same four words for our next meeting.

Every chapter in Little Klein was written using those word jar words. Harold turns out to be sickly so I could  have his mother warm a teakettle day and night. A storm arose when I had to use the word wind. 

If you like to write, I think you’ll have as much fun as I do collecting pictures, names, and words. Better yet, grab a friend and start collecting together. Then watch your writing soar!

6 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    DearStephenKing said,

    Great post! I love to collect postcards too, they are a great source of inspiration. I use them to create stories and scenarios in my head. Lots of fun!
    I’ve never though to be a collector of words though! What a great idea.
    Thanks :)

  2. 3

    reardonhs said,

    That’s so cool, I think I’ll start collecting names too. Thank you!
    I collect small pieces of sea glass. Once I wrote a poem about the way they were all cloudy and dark, as if they had been stained by their former lives. Sea glass is lovely.
    Collecting words is a good idea, too!

  3. 5

    Ella said,

    Really cool post! Like Tierney, I think I’ll start collecting names too!
    My Mum is always telling me to throw away, or put away all my leftover pieces of paper that I leave lying around, that I’ve written stuff on that I like looking at, or don’t want to throw away.
    I’m afraid I have a very bad disease called “Hoarders Disease” !!
    I just can’t throw anything away!! :)

    • 6

      starauthor said,

      I have a hard time throwing things away, too, Ella. You just never know when some little this or that will come in handy for an art project or some such. At least your new name collection won’t take up much room!


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