Years ago, after I taught a writers’ workshop called “Write Short: Greeting Cards, Posters and Bumper Stickers,” I shared some of the samples with my mother. This was long before dementia began confusing her, and she was still writing poems and short stories.
She hadn’t realized that the words on T-shirts, posters and bumper stickers were often written by freelance writers who were actually paid for their words, and she decided to practice writing a few. I gave her two basic prompts—“SMILE…” and “Speak softly…”—and asked what she would write to finish each thought.
Those of you who have gotten to know my mom through this blog probably aren’t surprised to read these “finished thoughts”:
SMILING ISN’T ENOUGH…BUT IT’S A GOOD START – and –
SPEAK SOFTLY AND KEEP A SENSE OF HUMOR
We weren’t entirely sure if these were originals—creativity floats all around us, and writers sometimes aren’t sure where ideas come from—but we had a good time putting pen to paper and turning creativity loose by writing mini-messages. Anything that makes us stop…think…and write is very good exercise.
If you want to practice writing what you think, feel, believe or want to protest in a few words, pretend you’re writing bumper stickers, aka “traveling messages.” They’re an excellent way to practice conveying long ideas in short phrases.
Here are examples of messages I’ve read on the bumper stickers of cars, trucks and vans. “My Dog Is Smarter Than Your Honors Student” ~ “Keep Your Doctor…Change Your Senator” ~ “Stop Texting and Drive” ~ “Warning: Driver Is Painting Her Nails…Her Toenails” ~ “Warning: In The Event of the Rapture, This Vehicle Will Be UnManned” ~ “If You Can Read This, Thank A Teacher” ~ and, “The Golden Rule Is Still Worth Its Weight In Gold.” Beneath short, seemingly simple bumper sticker messages are religious beliefs, philosophies, observations, and protests or endorsements.
If you’re interested in creating and selling messages, photography, or art (digital and physical), check out contests and information at http://www.hallmarkcontest.com/
Guidelines for submitting rhymed/unrhymed card messages at Blue Mountain Arts: http://www.sps.com/greetingcards/writers_guidelines.htm