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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Portland chapter.

A couple weeks ago, I walked you through my animating hobby. Another passion of mine, which may seem more obvious, is that I love to write! This is the time of year, of course, when we’re bombarded with essay assignments left and right. Sometimes it can be hard to find the motivation to stay focused on those tasks. But what about writing for fun? Sometimes taking a break and doing something mentally enjoyable can help us see a project with fresh perspective. Take a break from school work for a second, close out the tabs and documents of your essays, and try writing for fun! Stuck? No worries: here are some prompts to get you started:

1. Sometimes the best ideas come from the things we learn in classes. If something you learn surprises or intrigues you, write it down for later! Then, research it some more and develop a scenario or setting from the cool concept. (examples: we’re learning to model wind turbine blades off whale fins! The edge of the ocean moves sand down the coast like a river current!)

2. Watch a show or movie. Be perceptive to elements that stand out or seem clever. Write down the general idea, leave it until it’s detached from the source in your mind, and work it into your own writing. (examples: the twists in Us or The Good Place or a Black Mirror episode! The way some characters’ accents change when they’re revealed to be evil!)

3. Take a look at TVTropes.org. I’m honestly kind of obsessed with this website. It’s a database of tropes — recurring elements or archetypes common in media — and tells you what shows/books/movies use them. What’s fun about TV Tropes is that it puts a name to the patterns we’re used to seeing, so we can use them consciously (or subvert them!) in our own writing. (examples: Mobile-Suit HumanTomato in the Mirror, Chekhov’s Gun [or skill]) 

4. Combine two ideas you’ve had in the past. This is almost always how I get my bigger ideas. Something will be stewing in the back of my mind for a while, and then a new idea will come along and bam! They’ll fit right together! I can’t really give any specific pointers for this, except for to be always alert for new inspiration.


And that’s about it! I’ve found that writing very short stories is a good way to transform these ideas into something complete. And who knows: maybe it’ll grow into a larger work if you get invested enough! There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing the components of something you’ve made fall into place.