Boosting Creativity

Creativity comes in all shapes and sizes.

I’m blessed to have a sister who is a stained glass artist, a master chef, a photographer, and just an all-around creative Earth-mother, aging hippie type.

My wife is a children’s librarian who plans creative programs for children to boost their creativity, literacy, and engagement with writing.

Our oldest daughter is a professional photographer and graphic designer. She would like to be involved in interior design as well, and never feels at home in a new apartment until she’s claimed each of the walls with her own creative stamp. The amount of art she has painted (and covered up when she moves) is astounding.

What about me? 

I dabble in color and graphic design. I love to cook, but hate to clean up. I write a little. But what really gets my creative juices going is helping other writers discover the beauty in their writing through the editing process.

One of the things I’ll often suggest to authors is to engage their creativity through various writing prompts.

The other day I received a package in the mail from my designer daughter. The note said, “Thought of you when I found this. Almost kept it for myself!” In the package was a book of writing prompts, 642 Things To Write About put out by The San Francisco Writers’ Grotto.

I’ve been playing with it since.

Let’s play now!

You’re all creative people. So, I’m going to randomly open the book and present you with a writing prompt. (Hang on while I do that …)

Put your iPod on random shuffle. Write down the first line of lyric of the first song that comes on. Use it as an opening line.

My iPod is currently playing on random shuffle (Moody Blues’ Knights in White Satin is about half done), so I will wait for the next song it goes to.

I got lucky! My song comes from the pen of a true writer, Mary Chapin Carpenter. It is her song Stones in the Road from the album of the same name. The first sentence below is her first line in that song.

When we were young, we pledged allegiance every morning of our lives. I didn’t even know what ‘allegiance’ meant at the time, but I swore it to the flag of my country gladly, ‘one nation under God,’ my little American heart swelling with pride in I knew not what.

In front of me–we were in alphabetical order–stood Janey Duckworth. She was the kind of girl, I now know, men would pledge allegiance to just for the privilege of gazing on her face. Before summer was over that year, I would understand–too well–the cost of such allegiance.

But, for now, her pigtail was too much of a temptation. And I was blissfully unaware of any other kind.

Your turn

You can use the same opening line I did above, or, for more fun, turn your iPod to shuffle and take the first line from the first song that comes on. Share the result below in the comments.

Michael Ehret loves to play with words and as editor of the ACFW Journal, he is enjoying his playground. He also plays with words as a freelance editor at, where he often takes a writer Into The Edit, pulling back the veil on the editing process. He has edited several nonfiction books, played with words as a corporate communicator, and reported for The Indianapolis Star.

Girl with pigtails image courtesy of graur razvan ionut/