Tag Archives | ideas for writing

12 Ways to Kick-Start Your Writing

We are writers.
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And writers write.  No matter what, we write.  No matter if the world seems like it is going crazy or if we're going nuts within, our job is to write. To pour it all out on the page.  To be chroniclers and bear witness.

And yet.

Sometimes this writing, this flinging words at the page, is beyond us.  And no matter how hard we want to do it, we just don't seem to be able to.  The words won't come.  We can't drag ourselves to the page.  We sit at the computer and stare off into space. 

But here's the conundrum: when you're a writer, the only thing that makes you feel better–the only thing that makes you feel like yourself again–is to write.  So when you're not writing, you feel even worse.  Oh, it's a vicious, mean cycle, I tell you.  And the only way out is to get started writing again.

So, herewith, I present you with 12 ideas to kick-start your writing.  The only thing you have to do is experiment with them and see which one works for you.  Promise me you'll do that next time you're stalled and not just sit pretending to write when you're really playing Spider Solitaire.  Because one of these ideas will lead you back home again.

1.  Switch it up.  Write by hand if you're used to doing drafts on the computer, or vice versa.  Every time I get stalled on my novel, I switch to writing in a spiral notebook, et voila, the words flow once again.  It's magical.

2.  Choose a random word from the dictionary.  Combine it with another word or use it as a one-word prompt.  It works great if it's a word you don't know because then your mind can go in any direction it wants.

3.   Use a sentence box.  This takes a bit of advance preparation.  Cut apart old manuscripts into sentences and put them in a bag or a box, then draw one when you get stuck and use it as a prompt.  You can also do this with words and draw several, then string them together.

4.  Pick a prompt.  The key with prompts is to pick one, any one, without thought or emotional investment.  And then just write like crazy.  Don't try to stick to the topic of the prompt, just write and see where you end up.  I've got tons of prompts on this page.

5.  Use the first line of a favorite poem as a prompt.

6.  Use the last line of your WIP as a prompt.

7.  Re-read your recent work.  If this doesn't get you back in the flow, go over notes you've taken.  Look through notebooks you've compiled about the work.  Maybe something will strike you in a new way.

8.  Read a book on writing.  Often I don't finish reading writing books because I get so many ideas from them I go to the page and never get back to the book.

9.  Draw a card for guidance.  You can use a Tarot deck or one of the gazillion types of guidance decks from various authors.  I once went to a psychic who used a regular old deck of cards.  Have no idea what she saw in them, but the reading was fantastic!

10. Create a ritual.  Light a candle, put on some soothing music, drink a glass of water–whatever works for you.

11.  Cut out images to inspire you.  I describe this in more details in my free Ebook, Jumpstart Your Book With a Vision Board, which you can download to the right.

12.  Doodle to get your mind going.  I'm a doodler.  I doodle when I listen to lectures or in meetings.  It doesn't mean I'm not paying attention–to the contrary, it keeps me anchored in the moment.  Lately I've been reading about the positive effects of doodling, and I think it's beneficial for writing, too.

Those are some of the ideas that work for me.  How about you?  Do you have any sure-fire kick-starters that you rely on to get you going again?  Leave a comment and share.

Photo by robchivers.

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Valentine’s Day Giveaway for Writers WINNER ANNOUNCED

AND THE WINNER IS….KATE ARMS-ROBERTS! Yay, Kate.  Please email me with your address and so we can discuss mechanics of sending me pages.

Okay, here's what you've been waiting for: the next writerly giveaway.  After the success of my Christmas giveways, I've been chomping at the bit to offer another one.  Enter Valentine's Day. (Which is a week and a day away, by the way.  Just reminding you.)

This writerly holiday prize is two part.  Ready?  Here you go:

 

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1.  A Smash journal to keep your ideas in.  I have a blue one of these and it is fabulous, even though I think it is designed for teenagers.  (We're all young at heart here.)  Why is it so fabulous?  Because its got a perfect bound cover, but is spiral-bound inside.  And all the pages are different, so you don't get bored.  But here's the number one reason why it is so flippin' fabulous: because the pen that is attached to it is also a glue stick.  So you can paste things in as easily as you can write in the journal.  As I mentioned, I use it for my idea journal.  (The cool thing about idea journals is that if you gather ideas in them and then close the cover, they mate while you're not looking.)  Check out this link to the Smash journal page of Amazon to read more.

 

2.  A 25-page manuscript critique from me.  Doesn't matter what you're writing–a novel, a memoir, an article, a creative non-fiction piece or something else, I'll read it and critique it for  you. 

Good deal, huh?

So, by now you are wondering how to get yourself entered in this contest, no doubt.  Here's the skinny:  all you have to do is leave a comment below answering the question, what are you doing to celebrate Valentine's Day? 

Easy, huh?  You don't even have to confess anything about your writing.  Just tell us what your Valentine's Day plans are, (and if you don't have any that's okay, too, just write about that) and you'll be entered into the contest for the journal and the critique. 

Oh–by the way, check back here on the 15th, when I announce the winner, who I select at random by a random name generator site.   And, for the record, the folks who make Smash journals do not sponsor this contest.  It's just little ole me, cuz I love you guys soooooooo much.

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Where Do Writing Ideas Come From?

Scfiasco_bunny_bunnies_745196_hLike Oprah, here are three things I know for sure:

1.  Energy breeds energy

2.  The more you write, the easier it gets.

3.  Ideas generate ideas

About that last truism, I have this theory that ideas actually breed like rabbits.  If you note ideas in your journal, or corral them in an idea book, they find each other, mate, and multiply.  One idea sires a whole new generation of them.  And before you know it, you're overwhelmed with ideas.  Then the lovely problem you have is how to not fall prey to bright shiny object syndrome. ("I think I'm going to write this short story instead of the novel I'm working on.  No wait, I want to start working on that mystery.  Oh no, I've got it, I'll write my memoir.")

Try it.  Make an effort to write down ideas and see if they don't multiply.  It is quite magical, actually.

But, you may ask, where do ideas come from in the first place?  Good question, because writers and creative types need a constant stream of them.  Without fresh ideas and energy for your work, you'll eventually stagnate and quit creating.  So ideas are the lifeblood of our creative practice.  How to get them?  Where do they come from?

In my mind, ideas flow from:

1. Observation

Never underestimate the power of observation.  Simply writing down something you saw (A man walking down the street wearing red shoes) can spark an idea  One of the best ways to begin cultivating ideas is just to write stuff down.  Doesn't have to be original or unique, you simply need to make a note of it.  Because when you write down several observations, the rabbit breeding thing happens, and before you know it you simple little observations have combined into full-blown ideas.  Voila!

2. Speculation

The other wonderful thing that observation sparks is speculation.  (Why is that man wearing red shoes?   Doesn't he realize they are ugly?)  You can actually force ideas using speculation.  And, the thing is, at first when you're working on cultivating ideas, the process feels a bit forced.  But soon the ideas are coming so quickly that you realize they were there all the time, waiting for you to start noticing them.

I'm thinking a lot about ideas these days because I'm going to be teaching an online class about them in December.  Actually, ideas are half the class.  The other half is about taking those ideas and making them tangible through goal-setting.  It's going to be held on two successive Tuesdays in December and you can access the class by phone from wherever you happen to find yourself.  I'm teaching it in December for a couple reasons.  The first is because I always find the dark days of December to be an intensely creative time for me and the second because holding it then will set you up for massive productivity around your writing in the new year.

So check out the class here.  (I'm also teaching a class called Make Money Writing in January.  And I'm offering a special discount for people who sign up for both.  Check that class out here.)  I'm keeping the cost of both of these classes low, because I know a lot of people want and need this information.

And tell me: how do you cultivate ideas for writing?  Do you have any tips for keeping the flow of them coming?

Photo by SC Fiasco, via Everystockphoto.

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