Creative Procrastination Part 2: More Ways the Internet is Good for Writers

One of hundreds of vanity license plates found on Amy Marcott

Writing and free time are precious. If you're going to be online, you might as well be as productive as possible—especially if you're just taking a quick "break." Part one of this article listed sites offering visual stimulation as well as language prompts. Here are more ways to get your Internet fix that might also spark your creative impulses.


The Internet is a great place to "overhear" some quirky things.

Damn You, Autocorrect
Nothing else consistently makes me laugh out loud at work. You could pretend these people actually meant what they said. Or write an entire story or poem based on awkward auto-corrected text messages. Or just be inspired for a funny bit of dialogue.

Passive Aggressive Notes
There are all kinds of stories lurking in these blog posts.

Bad Lip Reading
Pick a unique line of dialogue and try to work it into something you're writing.

Overheard in Athens
Another good site for finding bizarre, disturbing, and funny dialogue.

Speech accent archive
Sometimes how someone speaks can be illuminating. Pick a region of the world or use the list of native language speakers and hear how they pronounce English.

Characters and Scenes

Without interesting personalities, where would we be as writers?

Fourteen Actors Acting
No audible dialogue, just pure emotion and action. Try writing about what you see in one of the videos, without openly announcing what the emotion is.

One in Eight Million
A New York Times series that literally gives you characters, in audio and images. Some of the people you'll find: a teenage mother, a blind wine taster, and an ex-bank robber.

Damn Interesting
True to its name, this is a "growing collection of legitimately fascinating information" (as the site describes itself). Try "Who Wants to Be a Thousandaire" for starters.

Daily Mugshot
People post pictures of themselves. Every day. No, I don't know why either, but descriptions of many of them have turned up in my work, and they are none the wiser. Choose someone with hundreds or even scores of images and use Mosaic View to see how they look with different expressions, hair styles, or, perhaps, facial hair. I've even found people slowly healing from a shiner.

A gallery of vanity license plates. It's amazing how much a few letters and numbers can say about a person.

Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About
Choose one and write a scene. Many offer a great opportunity to explore subtext.

Here's how this Twitter feed describes itself: "My dad is 81 years old. I'm teaching him how to use the Internet. I told him Twitter was how to search things on Google. These tweets are what he's searching." I don't know if the dad is onto it yet, but it's still funny trying to imagine the sort of person who wants to know about Clark Gable's confirmed kills, if brunch is real, or recipes with beef jerky and banana.

Improv Everywhere
Need an idea for a scene? Choose one of these scenarios. Try Anton Chekov or Say Something Nice for starters.


About the Author See other articles by Amy Marcott
by Amy Marcott


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