I've always loved quotes. There's something magical about a well-turned phrase that captures a particular idea in a memorable way. So when my friend asked me to help her gut out her pregnancy and her maternity leave by encouraging her with regular kernels of solace, I found a way to take an opportunity to be helpful and twist it to serve my own needs!
What came of this was my Daily Thoughts. Now, nearly two years since I pecked out Thought #1 on my phone, I can attest that my routine of concentrated brainstorming and wordsmithing has reinvigorated my writing. Here's how it works:
At first, the Daily Thoughts were simply group text messages sent to four people: my pregnant friend, a second friend, who wanted in on the inspiration in the face of her impending retirement, her husband and my wife. My first Thought was: "The best kind of smile is when you smile with your eyes. :)" This was followed by a number of Thoughts that I now consider too long and convoluted, such as #5: "Count your blessings. Literally. After counting and counting lulls you to sleep, you will awake to find yourself floating upon a sea of gratefulness."
I'm not sure how inspirational my first Daily Thoughts were. My friend's baby was kind enough to keep her gripes to herself.
Committing to conceiving and birthing a perfect-as-possible little creature of the imagination once per day instills fear and awe. Soon, trembling, I discovered great value in regular, dedicated writerly contemplation.
Here are a few Daily Thoughts rules of thumb I've developed:
1. Search your thoughts for a seed of truth.
This process is like a personal brain trainer. It vigorously exercises the idea generation corner of my brain. It also works the word choice corner, the sentence variety corner, the sentence structure corner and the metaphor corner. (Evidently my brain is a pentagon: five corners.)
With these benefits in mind, I determined that my writing life should yet again overlap with my teaching life. I decided to introduce Daily Thoughts in the Classroom. Students wrote their own Daily Thoughts, shared them with me and with each other, and wrote reflections. Late in the year, they chose at least two of their favorite Daily Thoughts and created one or more memes and posters with images. The final products were laminated and displayed in the hallways. The project proved difficult for some eighth graders, and so this year I will be requiring not Daily Thoughts but Weekly Thoughts. For higher level students, however, the assignment remains challenging and rewarding. Below is an example of a Daily Thought meme created by a student.
In the fall of 2014, my wife suggested posting my Daily Thoughts on Facebook. My FB friends seemed to like this (or convincingly faked approval), so last month I decided to preserve all of my Daily Thoughts by transferring them to my website. After a while, I experimented with online meme generators such as imgflip and then with iPhone apps such as Font Candy, Fotor and Cropic. I began to post the DT images on my Instagram (brett_cooper_books) and Tumblr accounts, too. These days, my Daily Thoughts look like this:
I suppose I should expect this unexpected project to further evolve, but I'm certain I will keep at it for as long as I can; because I know without a doubt: a thought a day keeps lazy writing away.
Writer, reader, runner, teacher, father, infp, huffleclaw.