Cleaning Out My Desk Drawer

Most of the time, procrastination is bad. Very bad. But this time, procrastination turned into a gold mine of writing nuggets.

My one desk drawer, full of hanging file folders stuffed beyond capacity, held everything from article drafts to tax papers. For the past 3 years, I’ve been cramming random bits of paper into these folders until they were overflowing. This wouldn’t normally bother me but on this particular day, I was on a mission.

In addition to my sometimes lackadaisical focus on writing, I have similar problems with my diet. For several years I’ve see-sawed 10-15 pounds on both sides of a base weight I’m not happy with in the first place. Right now, my end of the seesaw is up in the air so high that jumping down might result in a broken bone. I’m feeling unattractive and unhealthy. A few weeks ago I clipped a 7-day smoothie cleanse from my Dr. Oz Magazine. Now I can’t find it.

I’ve looked everywhere. I checked my cookbooks, my recipe binders, and my work tote. I’ve dug through the piles on my desk, looked through my blog folder and the bookcase. No luck. I started eyeing Ralphie the cat, completely able to imagine him hiding my “go directly to your skinny clothes” card. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.

He looks innocent, but trust me, he's naughty enough to run off with my smoothie diet.

He looks innocent, but trust me, he’s naughty enough to run off with my smoothie diet.

Frustrated, but not yet ready to give up, my eyes fell on the desk drawer. I sighed, rolled my eyes, and started pulling things out of the drawer. Distracted from the smoothie diet, I decided this drawer needed a serious purge session. I threw away expired coupons, recipes we would never try, duplicate, triplicate and quadruple copies of stories in progress, maps for towns we didn’t live in, and travel brochures for places we’ve already been to (and scrapbooked).

Image courtesy of nuttakit at freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of nuttakit at freedigitalphotos.net

One of the folders labeled, “Writing Prompts” was so full it was spilling over. Scraps of paper had worked their way underneath the hanging folder, waiting patiently on the bottom of the drawer. The scraps still in the folder had crumpled and tore under the pressure of all the scraps stuffed in after them.

I dumped the folder on the dining room table so I could sort them and gain control of the beast.

Some of the prompts were creepy: Follow a random person through a store, write down everything they put in their cart and then write a story where they use the items they are purchasing. This prompt must have been decades old – back when following someone through a store wouldn’t get you arrested or beat up.

Most of the prompts sound like fun. I couldn’t believe I’d forgotten all about this folder full of creative kick starts. Then it hit me – my BFF is also a writer. We live a thousand miles apart. Wouldn’t it be fun to take one of the prompts each month, write something and then share with each other? Yep, you could call us English Major Nerds. No offense taken. We wear it proudly.

So, we’re doing the prompts. March prompt is ~ An ad in a newspaper contained only two words, “Wanted: Dad,” and a phone number. Who would place such an ad?

I’m hoping the prompts will spark my creativity and my efforts will spill over into my novel. As an added bonus, it’s a fun way to keep connected to my BFF. I’ll post them as we go, for those of you who want to play along.

Stay tuned!

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