I’ll admit it. I’m a sucker for those “Dear Weary Mom” posts. Or, 20 Things You Should Do With Your Three Year Old.
They are inspiring, encouraging, and insightful.
However, they usually aren’t story.
While there’s a lot of feeling behind those posts, they aren’t the heart of what is happening in that moment. They are the reflections that came OUT of those moments. And I love them, but when crafting a personal narrative, you need to do some zooming in, finding seed ideas for writing.
It’s the difference between my Instagram post where I wrote: “The boys did such a great job in their first gymnastics class and show! And they cheered each other on the whole time!” and me telling you a story rich with detail from one small moment of their class.
In writing workshop, we call this Watermelon vs Seed.
We all have watermelon sized ideas. I want to write about motherhood. That’s a huge watermelon! Even some of the subtopics inside motherhood are still too big:
- Travel with Kids
These are all still “watermelon” sized ideas. Imagine a watermelon – big, green, round, slippery… you wouldn’t want to carry it around with you for very long – it would be heavy, you’d get tired, it might get away from you and fall apart.
Writing is the same way – huge topics or ideas will tire you out, take too long, and get too messy. Frankly, it’s no fun trying to write about a huge watermelon. It’s more fun to spit out the seeds!
So let’s get to a smaller slice of our watermelon ideas, find the seeds, and have fun!
Today I want to show you to zoom in to find the seed-sized ideas inside your watermelon-sized ideas.
Watch me do this with my gymnastics idea. (Note: it’s perfectly okay to jot down watermelon-sized ideas in your notebook, but then spend plenty of time digging out the seeds before you begin to write).
So in my notebook, I have listed all sorts of things my oldest son loves:
- The color green
- Cutting with Scissors
All of these are watermelons… and even when I zoom in a little bit and pick gymnastics, that’s still a big topic. I don’t want to write a story about every. single. thing. that happened at gymnastics!
So let’s zoom in a bit more:
Besides, I’m supposed to be writing my motherhood story, right? Gymnastics alone is not really about ME and my motherhood experience. I’m not planning to write “What Your Child Will Learn at Gymnastics” (although I might another time!). No, I want to write a story of our time there. So I have to zoom in to a SPECIFIC moment in gymnastics. A moment that mattered to me. That when it happened, I thought, remember this! (and if I was wise, I would have written it in my writing notebook as soon as I could!).
So I zoom in to…
- our first morning at gymnastics
- my son’s first cartwheel
- when he finally got on the rings
- cheering on his little brother
- the Spider-man wall
Ohhhh, see that!? Now these moments are starting to sound more like stories, and less like topics. You saw how I did that, right? Finding my seed ideas inside that big watermelon of gymnastics?
Now, you may already have ideas that are somewhat specific. Maybe you’ve got it narrowed to a slice of watermelon instead of the whole big thing. But I challenge you to zoom in to look for a small seed. In my list, “our first morning at gymnastics” is still rather big – that’s two hours of time! A lot happens in two hours – I could zoom in more.
The seed I’m actually going to write about is one moment when my oldest son was cheering on his little brother. Now he did this many times, but the first time felt distinctive to me. So I’m going to write about that time.
Did you see how I am going to tell about just ONE time he cheered his brother on? Not every single time. Just the best moment, the most meaningful.
Psst. Here’s a sneak peek at a similar moment:
Now you try zooming in: finding seed ideas for writing!
Grab your writing notebook, and look through it for some ideas. Find one and either in the margin, or on a separate page (it’s up to you how you use your notebook from here. I can only make suggestions!), list out some smaller moments inside that “watermelon idea.” If you’re stuck for topics, here’s a few that have to do with motherhood:
- Getting baby to sleep
- First foods
- Breastfeeding (or not)
- Travels with your kids
If you’ve been struggling to get your story out, I’d suggest it could be that you’re struggling with too large of an idea. Every time you write, remember to zoom in to your ideas, until they are as small as seeds. A seed idea is quite fun and manageable to write about!
Go on, create some seeds. Have a happy writing day!
Please share your thoughts, questions, or excerpts from your notebook either in the comments, or hop over to Facebook and share a photo of your notebook!