The Writing Game: No Shortage of Writing Ideas

My daughter Gemma- Rose and I are having some mother-daughter time. We sit at one of the wobbly white tables in the shopping mall and sip our drinks. I have a coffee. She has a chocolate milkshake.

“What have you been enjoying recently?” I ask.

Gemma-Rose sucks on her straw for a moment and then says, “Writing. I love writing.”

“There’s lots to write about, isn’t there?”

“There is?”

“Oh yes! I have lots of writing ideas! And if I ever do get stuck, I have a game I like to play. I think of a word and then see if I can find a story to match. I’ll show you.”

I look at Gemma-Rose’s camel coloured coat. It has big round buttons.  I say, “Buttons! Do you remember my grandmother’s rusty red button tin? I could write a story about that.”

For a moment we sip our drinks in silence, and then I say, “Give me a word!”

Gemma-Rose looks around and then says, “Garbage bin.”

“I have a great story about garbage bins.” I smile. “Do you remember when Duncan didn’t put out the garbage bins on Christmas Eve? The truck came to empty them in the early hours of Christmas morning. We arrived home from Midnight Mass seconds too late… “ (There is a lot more to that story but I won’t tell you everything. I might write that story out properly another day!)

“I have a word for you,” I say. “Nose.”

“That’s easy,” says Gemma-Rose. “I could write about Nora’s huge nose.” Our puppy is always a good subject for a story.


“Did you know Sophie was quite upset when she discovered donuts are deep-fried? All that oil!”

“Perhaps it’s better not to know how things are cooked,” I say, “or what they’re made from.”

“Like chicken nuggets.”

“Things are not always what they appear to be. That would be a good subject for a story.”

Gemma-Rose sucks her milkshake noisily up her straw. “Straw!” I say.

“Advent,” Gemma-Rose replies instantly. “We earn straws to put in the nativity stable during Advent.”

“Actually I’ve written a story about those straws. It’s in my Angels of Abbey Creek book.”

Gemma-Rose and I trade a few more words before I say, “We have millions of stories that we could tell. Everyone does. They are the stories of our lives. All we have to do is decide which ones we want to tell.

“Then when we have a story idea we need to make sure we add some feelings to it. Is it a happy story or a sad one? Perhaps it’s a frightening story. Is it a funny one?”

“The garbage story is really funny!” smiles Gemma-Rose. (I wonder if I can find the right words to make people smile when I come to write it.)

“Have you ever noticed how we often learn something from our stories like…”

“… how food can taste good until you know exactly what it’s made from.”

“Or never assume the garbage truck won’t arrive to empty the bins in the early hours of Christmas Day. Sometimes unexpected things happen.”

“Or Christmas wouldn’t be the same without all the traditions.”

“Coming to some conclusion makes a story even better. You can just retell something that happened. Or you can learn something from it.

“Then when your story is written, all you need to do is post it on your blog,” I finish.

Gemma-Rose frowns. “And then everyone can ignore it. No one reads my blog stories!” She sighs.

I know how she feels. It’s nice to share our stories with other people. We want to know whether we have successfully put our thoughts into words. Can the reader see the story that exists in our heads? Can they feel what we are feeling?

But even when no one reads our words, it is still worth writing.

“We can enjoy our own stories even if no one else wants to share them.” I lean across the table towards Gemma-Rose and say in a low voice, “Shall I tell you a secret? Sometimes I visit my blogs and read my own posts!” She grins. “I like to remember all the things I write about. It’s like going back in time and enjoying everything all over again.”

We stand up and gather together our shopping bags. It’s time to go home. As I watch Gemma-Rose push our empty cups into the garbage bin, the word ‘coffee’ suddenly pops into my head.

I smile. That’s easy! I could write a story about our mother-daughter time and how Gemma-Rose and I played the writing game while I drank coffee.

And that’s just what I’ve done!

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    • Amy
    • July 29, 2014

    Another great story! You are such an inspiration to me!! I just LOVE how you all enjoy & embrace life. 🙂

    1. Reply


      We did enjoy our morning tea at the mall together! I'm glad my story conveyed that feeling. I love having special time with each of my children. It gives us time to chat. I wonder if you do a similar thing with your children.

      Thank you for your kind words!

  1. Reply

    What a terrific post! I sometimes re-read some of my own posts too, especially from my newest blog, because that's the one on which I just let loose and tell stories, and I find they're bringing back good memories (since I write a lot about the 'olden days.' And you know who inspired me to tell stories? YOU! 🙂

    1. Reply


      I am so glad I am not the only person who reads her own posts! Yes, stories can be packed full of good memories. I love to enjoy them all over again.

      I inspired you to tell stories? Somehow I think you were telling fabulous stories long before you met me. Maybe I just inspired you to create yet another blog to post them on. I must be famous for creating far more blogs than I can handle! (though you seem to be keeping up with your three wonderfully!) I love sharing stories with you, Nancy. And reading your comments!

  2. Reply

    How lovely! I love getting time to chat with each of my children! It sounds like you still get to this with most of your adult kids, too. I hope that my kids will still want to chat with me when they are grown up.

    Yes, I reread my own posts, too! My blog really is an online memory book, and, since I am mostly writing about the happy things, it's a really enjoyable trip down memory lane. Even the stuff that drove me crazy at the time (like when Choclo and Oob mixed milk with eggs and orange juice, then tried to clean it up with toilet paper and fruit) seems pretty funny, now!

    I hope I go back to telling stories some day, I don't much now, except for the occasional bed time story. I feel like all my creative energy is going to parenting and home schooling.

    1. Reply


      Oh yes! I love one-on-one time with each of my kids, including the adult ones. (I also like leaving them all at home and going out for time alone with my husband!)

      Our blogs are packed full of memories, aren't they? I really like how you have your blog printed out and bound at the end of each year. Is that expensive to do? What a treasure for you to keep! We think we'll remember everything that happens but I think without our blogs, journals etc we'd forget so much. It's funny to think our children's children might get to share all these memories too!

      Wendy, even though you aren't telling stories at the moment, your blog posts are full of family stories. Perhaps in the future you could use your posts as raw material for more formal stories.

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