Keep a File of Word Pictures

Earlier this afternoon as I began to nod off with a book in my lap, my thoughts drifted to a friend and how sad she had sounded when she spoke of some problems involving her daughter. Suddenly, out of the blue, these words came to mind: "Telling a friend of our sadness is like putting a frame around it."

How true! I thought. That's just what friends do. By listening to our concerns, they allow us to draw boundaries around the problem. Their responses set off certain elements in our thinking and create a frame of reference.

As profound as that thought may be, it isn't worth writing a lifestory about. I mention it here because it is worth keeping, if not in a story. I have a file where I keep idea scraps like this. Sometime when I'm writing a story about something sad or angry, this analogy will be just the right way of putting things, so I'm stashing it in that file. If I never use it again, at least I won't forget it. I read through this file every now and then, and it's almost like reading haikus. Each thought is a little gem, filled with personal meaning.

If you haven't started such a file, I strongly encourage you to do so now. I keep mine on my computer, but a card file would also work well, or a list in a journal.

May your list grow long and deep, and may it bring you a thousand pleasures as you read over it in years to come.

Write on,

Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal


Tara said...

What a great idea...thanks for sharing!

Ritergal said...


I hope this suggestion does prove useful to you. I'm always thinking fo ways to describe sights, smells, and other aspects of my surroundings or people I meet. Today in West Virginia I gave serious thought to the smell of spring in a pine forest. I didn't have but a few minutes at a rest stop to enjoy it, but it was divine!

Please send me a personal e-mail at I'd like to get in touch with you directly.

Anonymous said...

The comment of "putting a frame around it" is a great word picture. There is a parallel of shorthand that people who communicate often develop. And an entire experience they have shared can be triggered by a certain phrase - an instant recall of sorts and the mind revisits the sensations, the sounds, the colors and tapestry of that moment.

The value of having someone to just hear us in those moments of pain or confusion is invaluable and something the Internet provides - a sort of instant therapy.

Writers have a tool for working out thoughts on the keyboard that others let go by running, sports, eating, drinking, over-sleeping or a myriad of other ways to get it out of their head and into this world.

My 2 cents. . .