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Freelance editor Jessica Hatch has always focused on telling stories and on telling stories well.

Magpie Writing Warm-Up

You probably know that magpies and other birds have hoarding tendencies. (Although, contrary to popular belief, magpies don’t hoard shiny objects like money and jewelry over other items. In that case, you’re looking for a Niffler.)

In many ways, writers are like these hoarding animals.

For instance, children’s author Eric Carle (The Very Hungry Caterpillar) keeps a drawer full of ideas to use.

Whether we use an idea drawer or not, writers move through life, eavesdropping on conversations, looking out for images, and processing emotions that pique our interests. We then hoard these “shiny objects" in our minds until we’re ready to make them our own and put them on the page. 

The Magpie Challenge

This is a fun warm-up that should help you kick off at least one writing session per week. You may be able to use this on a more regular basis, depending on how frequently you use your Notes app, but I think once a week is a good start.

  1. First, open a new note on your smartphone's Notes app. 
  2. Label it with the current week (e.g., Week of 11/20/17).
  3. Then, add to the note as you become inspired. Instead of starting a different one for each random thing that you want to remember during the week, write all of your random thoughts in the same one — like a Niffler, this is where you’re hoarding your shiny objects.
  4. On your next writing day, begin by reviewing your note. Challenge yourself to a free write that incorporates all of the disparate ideas that you have gathered over the course of the week. 

Here’s an example to get you started.

  A Kafkaesque tale of a spy purchasing health insurance?

A Kafkaesque tale of a spy purchasing health insurance?

Do you keep an idea drawer or a note full of possibilities? Let me know how this exercise works for you. If a novel comes of it, I’d love to work with you! Keep me posted here: www.hatch-books.com/contact-me/.