Oct 29, 2014 - Uncategorized    Comments Off

Creative Writing – 5 Top Ways To Rejuvenate Your Creative Writing Starting Today

Writer’s block is a widely known phenomenon amongst writers, when you feel completely stuck, out of ideas, and wondering not where the next book or poem or chapter will come from, but where the next SENTENCE will come from.

It’s times like this when your creative writing feels in need of a serious boost of energy and inspiration, something to rejuvenate it to the kind of levels you’ve produced before, and can do again.

So here are 5 top ways to give your writing a new lease of life. You can start putting them into action today:

1. Experiment with some creative writing prompts. Prompts simply provide a starting point for your writing, a new direction to head in that you might not have tried before. Once you get started, your writing is all your own, you’re free to create and write in whichever way it takes you. That initial prompt gives the little boost you need to get the creative writing ideas flowing once more.

2. Start small and keep it short. Often we expect to be able to write 3 new chapters of our novel a day when the reality is we’re struggling to string more than a couple of words together. This expectation is only making the block more painful. Instead put all major projects to one side, pick something small, different and experimental, and see where it leads. After building confidence with a few of these short projects, work up to larger more ambitious ones again.

3. Start an ideas journal. The easiest way to keep creative ideas flowing to you like Niagara Falls is to capture them as soon as they come. Use an ideas journal to write down ideas when they appear. The more ideas you write down and capture, the more will appear. Your ideas journal will soon be overflowing with a diverse collection of new writing ideas you can’t wait to explore.

4. Detach from the outcome. When you’re focused on the “end product” of what you’re writing and trying to come up with something perfect, it’s easy to lose sight of the enjoyment of writing. Pick a new project and have no expectation of how it will turn out. Simple write freely, whatever comes to you. You’ll come up with some gems of ideas as well as reconnecting with the pure enjoyment and adventure of writing freely and easily.

5. Take a few creative field trips. Visit places you’ve always wanted to, or places full of inspiration that stimulate your senses. Whether this for you is a walk into the depths of a forest, or a trip to an art gallery or bookshop, you’ll be surrounded with ideas and new possible directions in which to write. Take your ideas journal (see tip 3) to record all your ideas for future development.

These are 5 top tips to help rejuvenate your creative writing, starting today. Which one are you going to start using first?

Oct 29, 2014 - Uncategorized    Comments Off

One Writer’s Writing Journal

The words “writer’s journal” can mean something different to every writer. Some of us use one to jot down ideas and characters. Others use theirs to keep a detailed account of their days. Still others, well, you get the picture. There are many books and articles on the subject, each one giving you the details for keeping one. But what kind?

I’ve read many books and articles on the subject. “Keep a writing journal,” they tell me, “it’ll help improve your writing.” So I would try to keep one. I’d go and buy a new blank journal. And I’d promise myself that this time, I would write in it faithfully every day. Maybe I’d make it a week, or two, before my journal would be tossed aside like yesterday’s news.

When I first starting writing, over 25 years ago, I’ve kept what I called an idea journal. I’d buy one of those composition books, the kind you used in high school English class, and I would write my story ideas and prompts in them. I never really had an order for putting these things into the books; they just went in rather willy-nilly. Over the years, those books have evolved into two separate books; one for story ideas and the other for writing prompts.

My writing prompt journal is filled with single sentence ‘muse-inspirers’. These are things I’ve heard, read, or have just popped into my mind at the oddest time. Very simple.

My story idea journal is a bit more complicated. When I get an idea for a story or novel, I write it down on a blank page. It doesn’t have to be a complete plot, just a few sentences about the story and maybe how I see the ending. Then when I have the time, I answer a few questions I hope will spark my story to life.

1. Who is my main character? Even if all I have is a first name, it’s better than nothing.

2. What does he/she look like? I only need a basic description right now; age, height, weight, hair/eye/skin color, build, unusual features. As I said, very basic. The rest can be filled in later.

3. Why is this story happening to my character? Is my character a wimp who receives the power to turn the tables on his tormentors? Is she a wealthy lady with a secret past? It doesn’t have to be more than a line or two, but it should me give some insight as to who they are.

4. Who are my secondary characters, their names and descriptions, and their reasons for being in the story? It helps me understand the main character if I see who he/she keeps as a friend and who he/she is fighting against.

5. What is the basic plot? No need to be more than one sentence for each part. I really only need to know where I’m going, because getting there is half the fun. I also like to know the time and place and some idea of the setting. Is it the past, present, or future; on this planet or somewhere else?

6. What is the title? Do you have one in mind, or is this “short story #8″? My titles usually don’t come to me until I’m done writing my story, though occasionally the title is what sparks the tale.

While this may look like a lot of work, it really isn’t. A good story, one that grabs you and won’t let go, will give you all this and more before you ever put pen to paper. It’s up to you to write it all down, before you forget. I’ve had, and lost, some wonderful story ideas because I thought I would remember them until I got home. Now I wouldn’t be caught dead without my story journal.

I was so glad when they started making composition books with color covers. Now I have composition books in different colors in many places; one by my bed, in my office, the living room, my purse and in my van. I never know where my muse is going to pop a great idea into my head and I don’t want to miss it when it comes.

Oct 29, 2014 - Uncategorized    Comments Off

Creative Writing Prompts – Give Your Writing The Green Light For GO Using Creative Writing Prompts

Have you been frustrated lately that your creative writing has seemed repetitive or stale, that you seem to have become some kind of writing robot, churning out the same kind of words and lines time and time again?

Or, worse still, has your writing inspiration dried up completely?

Where there was once a raging river there’s now only a dry and cracked riverbed, littered with the debris of unfinished writing projects?

One of the biggest causes of this kind of writer’s block is that you’re simply not giving yourself permission to write freely.

Your creativity is like a 6 year old boy who’s been taken to the front of a huge toy store, only to then be told he can peer in but he’s not allowed to go inside! Torturous!

So how can you give this permission again to your creativity, so it can rise up and show you all it’s capable of? How do you give your creative writing the green light for go instead of feeling permanently stuck on red?

Creative writing prompts are a great way of unlocking your writing ability and giving it a fresh surge of inspiration.

The way creative writing prompts work is by giving you a short phrase or idea to get you started in a new direction you might not have thought of. It’s that little push you need to get you flowing again, so your creativity can shine once more.

That 6 year old kid with his nose pressed up against the window of the toy store has now been shown the way in. In fact more than that, he’s also been told – “You might want to check out the new electronic action figures on the 2nd floor, they’re not like any you’ve seen before” and pointed in the right direction. So off he rushes.

Many writers aren’t comfortable trying writing prompts because they feel it’s like taking a short cut and they should be able to come up with their own ideas.

Back to the toy store kid again – if he didn’t have a clue where those action figures were, or even where the toy store was, he could spend forever trying to get there. Once he’s there, he doesn’t need any encouragement to go off and explore!

It’s the same with writing prompts. They may show you a technique you haven’t used before or point you in a direction you’ve not thought of exploring in your writing, but once you’re off there’s no stopping you! All the writing, all the creativity, comes from within YOU.

Try using some creative writing prompts today, and you’ll give your writing the green light it needs to produce something amazing once again.

Oct 29, 2014 - Uncategorized    Comments Off

Journal Writing Fun for You and Your Child

Do you want a sure-fire way to get your child writing and communicating? Buy 2 little blank books – one for your child and one for you. Now you need an interesting subject or thought you can write about. Find something that will be interesting or fun for both of you. Definitely NOT, “Write about what you did today.” Boring!! Try some of these ideas to spark your interest. You will soon be amazed by what you learn about each other and how much closer you feel.

• Look up Dr. Seuss quotations on the internet. They are jewels and get the creative writing juices flowing. Try this one: “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” Prompt your young writer and yourself by saying, “What makes me so special?” Both of you write about your wonderful traits and then share them.

• Sayings are good for thinking about deeper meanings. How about “Do not criticize another person until you’ve walked a mile in his or her moccasins.” What does this Native American saying mean? Think of someone you don’t get along with, and pretend you are living their life. How does it feel?

• Song lyrics provide good writing ideas. What could you write about using this line? “Into each life some rain must fall.” When things aren’t going smoothly, this might be a good writing prompt.

• New vocabulary words stretch our thinking. Perhaps your child asks you what a certain word means, like “integrity”. You can explain the meaning (integrity describes a person who tells the truth and keeps his or her word.) Now each of you can write about a person you know who has “integrity”.

• Holidays suggest subjects too. Why do we celebrate Thanksgiving? What are we thankful for?

• Poetry isn’t always easy to understand so reading a poem and talking about it can lead to an interesting journal entry. Another idea is to try writing a poem of your own. Begin by looking up some of Robert Louis Stevenson’s poems or Shel Silverstein.

• Try this writing prompt, “If I share what I have, it will make someone else feel good.” What could you share with someone today? Could it be a “smile” or a “thank you” or an act of kindness? How do you think it would make another person feel? Now, each of you write your idea, and illustrate it if you want.

• Old proverbs make for interesting writing.. “Two’s company, three’s a crowd.” Explain that this proverb means, two people can get along well together, but if a third person joins them, there sometimes can be trouble. Suggest that this may or may not be true. Write about your opinion of this proverb and give some examples from your life. Talk about the difference between an “opinion” and a “fact”.

• Pick a favorite reading book and write about a different ending to the story. Suppose the wolf made friends with the 3 little pigs. How would the story have ended differently? How would you have felt? (It’s always good to include feelings into your writing.)

• Quotations and metaphors, along with old proverbs and sayings, stimulate a child’s deeper level thinking skills. Whenever you can find thought-provoking questions, writing goes deeper and uncovers feelings.

• Share values in life, like “Finders keepers, losers weepers.” This is an especially interesting saying to write about because it’s familiar to children. Share your own experiences and respect your child’s opinions. The child who is just beginning to journal, sometimes needs a little help transferring thoughts into words. “I think” or “I feel” are often good starters.

Children who learn to express their feelings by writing, are able to release those feelings and let them go. I remember when my young daughter wrote a note to us when she was angry about something. It said, “I’ve run away, but not too far. I’ll be back. Don’t call the police.” She never ran away or gave us the note. She taped it to the back of her dresser (just in case she might need it in the future!) We didn’t find it until years later when we moved some furniture around. If she hadn’t been a writer, she may have tried running away but by writing the note it helped her reason out the outcome, step by step, and make a sensible decision.

A word of caution – remember that journal writing is not the time to worry about misspelled words, incorrect grammar or sentence structure. No rules! No lectures either! Journal writing is for expressing feelings. If we desire perfection, we will change the dynamics of this time spent together.

The best part of this activity is not just the writing practice, but is in the sharing. It’s amazing what each of you will learn from the other. This is a time for bonding. It seems we spend so much time running around, taking kids to lessons or games, fixing dinner, washing clothes, that we miss the important times, the close time spent together sharing who we are.

I know how difficult it is to carve out a few minutes to spend with each child. When my four children were small the pace was hectic. But being still and sharing with your child will be one of the wonderful things you both will remember and cherish your entire life.

Oct 29, 2014 - Uncategorized    Comments Off

How to Write More and Beat the False Evidence of Self-Doubt

One of the biggest obstacles writers face is not having enough self-belief. Taking risks to express ourselves creatively can be scary stuff, and self-doubt can be triggered all too easily. Especially by comparing ourselves to other writers.

Self-doubt can eat away at any creative person like rust in an automobile. Self-doubt can be soul-destroying, and it tends to feed on itself. The more you feel it, the more there is of it. Soon you’re feeling too paralyzed by self-doubt to write a thing.

It can be hard not to fall into the trap of comparison. So the best tactic is to go for the antidote: more self-belief.

But the pursuit of self-belief can sound like an elusive quest. Easy for someone to give you that advice, but how is it done exactly? Building your self-belief as a writer should be rooted in the act of writing.

Building self-belief is not something that happens overnight. And the deepest, most lasting way to do it is to write, write, write as often as you can. But getting to the stage of being able to write, write, write can be most of the battle.

Here are 5 steps that, practiced often enough, can help you train yourself to write on a more regular basis:

1. Shut out distractions

Allowing ourselves to be distracted by anything that glitters (social media, that new reality TV show, text messages from friends) is usually a symptom of procrastination. Acknowledging that you’re procrastinating is the first step.

Once you face the reality of it, you can take action. Start with baby steps. Decide that you will find one period of 30 minutes within the next several days where you will shut off your cell phone, log out of email and social media, turn the TV off and close the door to your writing space. Make an appointment with yourself and then keep it.

2. Recognize that you’ll be tested

Within almost every writer I’ve ever met (and I’ve known many) lies a seed of self-sabotage. We fear failure, we fear success, we fear the brilliance of our own creativity. We fear criticism, we fear having no readers, we fear we’ll have nothing worth writing.

The act of trying to get going with more writing will bring this seed to the surface. This can take the form of self-sabotage or events from the outside world. All of it looks very convincing too. These are things you seemingly must deal with now and, in doing so, put aside your intentions to write.

You must find a way to write anyway. If you don’t, you’ll go back to your state of paralysis or non-activity. This will then feed on itself, creating a downward, negative spiral and more of what you don’t want.

Remember, when you’re being tested, recognition and self-awareness are your weapons. Being aware of why it’s happening will help you take counter-measures. The counter-measure must always be some writing. It doesn’t matter what you write, as long as you write something. You’ve got to tip the scales in favor of writing. So don’t wait till you can write something “good.” Just write.

3. Don’t believe the voice of doom

The voice of doom (which you can hear inside your mind whenever you try to write) is part of the sabotage. I call it the voice of doom because it makes your chances of becoming the writer you want to be sound ominous.

Learning to recognize the voice of doom, and remembering that it’s only there to test you, can be enormously powerful. With this knowledge, you can keep writing whenever the voice arrives on the scene. Keep writing, because you must make it to the other side.

Imagine yourself on a perilous, rickety footbridge above a huge chasm with a dragon belching flames at your feet. On the other side of the chasm is paradise. Fix your eyes on (creative) paradise and keep writing.

4. Give yourself permission to be less than scintillating

If you haven’t been writing very much lately, you can’t expect yourself to be a Hemingway as soon as you sit down to write something. Hemingway, and other masters like him, become good through practicing the craft. Any master will tell you that a good writer has many ugly first drafts under his belt.

Loosen up and just write. Everything can be fixed in the rewrites. A first draft should be born of passion and love for your story, not the harsh taskmaster of perfection.

5. Can’t write it? Write next to it.

Writers who sit almost bleeding anxiety as they stare at the screen and wonder how to begin could do one thing differently and change their entire experience. Instead of writing what you “should be” writing (even if it’s the novel you’ve always dreamed of starting, and today is the deadline for when you said you’d sit down and start), try writing something you feel less committed to first.

There are many writing prompts available in books and on the Internet. Take a writing prompt and just let yourself write. It doesn’t have to be good. It just has to be written. The more you write using writing prompts (where you won’t feel a huge commitment to it like you do with your novel) the more you’ll loosen up. Using writing prompts also means you don’t have to think of what to write. The prompt will provide you with the idea.

The key to overcoming self-doubt as a writer is to write more than you’ve ever written before. This is the road to confidence as a writer, and this is also the way to improve as a writer. Improving takes practice. And improving will help boost your confidence.

Use the 5 steps given above to create a positive, upward spiral. And remember that a little bit can go a long way, added up over time. Let yourself take baby steps. Often.

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