Idea Mining for Writers 101
Want to write an article or book, but are stuck for ideas? Here are a few practical ways to awaken that muse.
- Keep a writer's journal. A hardcover notebook will do nicely for keeping entries on a variety of topics including, but are not limited to: problems, daydreams, quotes, bits of conversations from "real life" or your characters, character sketches, anecdotes about you, your family and friends, jokes and quotes that caught your attention, names of books that you plan to read and have read, the newest craze, letters that you wish you wrote to the editor but didn't, reasons why something did or didn't work out, musings about trends, the good old days, cute quotes from the kids, frustrations, interesting stuff that you heard on the radio or TV. For example, I heard about a guy who was shaving his head while driving at 80 mph on the highway and another who was changing his wardrobe while driving at about the same speed on a radio talk show. These tidbits might be great triggers for a short story or novel, especially if you can create answers explaining why and/or how these guys could do that.
- Visit the bookstore. But carry a little notebook and a pen. Then browse, taking note of books whose titles grabbed your attention. What else would these books' audiences appreciate knowing? What bestsellers attracted your attention? What are the names of the newest magazines? What aisles haven't you explored yet? What kinds of books do people seem to pick up and read? What book might you have been looking for, but couldn't find? Did you ask the bookstore's customer service about ordering it? And while you were at it, did you remember to ask the sales associate if books like that are popular?
- Take inventory of your life and experiences. Where did you go to school? What were your best and worst subjects? What kinds of jobs have you held? What subject did you major in and what degrees did you earn? What do you love to do and would do it for free? What are your hobbies? What sports do you enjoy? What do you do especially well? What kind of work experience do you have? What were your favorite jobs? What were your least favorite jobs and why? What problems did you and your colleagues solve? Were you ever fired? Are you working now? Are you an entrepreneur? What clubs and associations have you joined? Are you married or single? How many children do you have? Have you ever traveled, and if so, where?
As you take inventory and gather information, think about who else would be interested and why. While you are at it, make a list of possible audiences, such as bosses, colleagues, friends, lawyers, teachers, and so on. Give yourself time to think about what you have and how you can capitalize on it. Create a few titles just for fun, then choose one that excites you the most and start freewriting. Who knows? You may be creating that next article or book!
Dorothy Zjawin has capitalized on her teaching experience and has had 30 articles published by Instructor and a book, Teaching Ideas for the Come-Alive Classroom published by Parker Pub. Co./Prentice-Hall. Her website, http://www.profitable-pen.com, has other ideas and a free forum. Have a question about writing? Feel free to contact Dorothy!
The Heart of the Delay: Harnessing The Wisdom of Procrastination (AKA Writers Block)
I am sure that at in some era, at some desk, with some kind of paper (and perhaps some very special ink), some writer has breezed through a lengthy and challenging project from beginning to end with no delays. No one in her household has suffered, she's felt pleased at each step of the process, and her shoulders have never cried out for massage. I'm sure of this.
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FIVE MINUTES ... Is All You Need ........to phone a friend ..... peel potatoes for dinner ..... pick the kids up from school ..... or write a few words that could earn you anything from a plastic pinny or ballpoint pen, to a dream house in the sun, a top-of-the-range sports car, or thousands of dollars in cash and luxury goods!
Letter Writing Journaling
When you read a letter from someone, we are immediatelytransferred into their world, experience, and physicalreality. You can capture the same feeling by writingletters to yourself or about other people in your journal.Letter writing is the easiest form to use in journaling. Onoccasion, you might have already dabbled in writing lettersin your journal.
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Which Comes First - Short Story Or Novel?
A writer writes. Bet you've heard that one before. Or maybe this one: if you want to be a writer, first you write one word, then you write the next.Both of these old clichés are true, of course. That's how they turned into clichés. But there's another dilemma a beginning creative writer often finds himself facing: do I write short stories or novels? Writing novels is almost always the end goal. You'll find exceptions---such as Ray Bradbury and Harlan Ellison, who primary built their careers writing short stories---but the vast majority of successful storytellers are novelists.The real question then is this: do I jump into novel writing with both feet or do I test the waters first by writing short stories? Generally, beginning writers don't understand that these are two very different forms. They see writing a short story as easier, less intimidating. At a cursory glance, it's hard to argue with that. But if you ask a writer successful in both forms, he'll almost always tell you that short stories pose a much more difficult task.Why?Because you're working on a small canvas. The novel is a wall mural. It's expansive. You have time to fully develop your characters. There's room for movement, for growth and change, for surprises and insights, for looking back as well as looking forward. The short story is an 8x10 landscape. It's a moment in time when your character faces a critical point in his or her existence, a moment that changes everything. In a glimpse, readers must believe in your characters, in the crisis they face, in the choices they make. It's a tiny, one-dimensional surface that must appear three-dimensional.With that understanding, starting out writing short stories can still be a good proving ground for a writer. You learn quickly what works and what doesn't. You learn to write tight, to pack as much meat into as few words as possible. You learn to capture the core make up of your characters. All very valuable lessons for both the short story writer and the novelist.
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As a previous article ("Making Better Word Choices ? 4 Examples") explained, writers can take steps to prevent simple, and common, errors from degrading their writing. Five areas of writing that cause authors problems are discussed in this article.
The Practice of Writing
Virgil, the great Roman poet, wrote "Practice and thought might gradually forge many an art." From this we can assume that practice comes before thought, and so it is with present day writers.
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Working on my first humorous novel, I started with a single character. I followed suggestions in writers' reference books for developing story characters. Then, still dissatisfied with my results, I began to explore other ways to make my characters more lifelike and included those strategies below.
Balance Your Life
Balance your life ----------------------- Writing is a solitary task. Writing needs concentration and quiet. Writing requires absolute commitment. Are all there scary statements true?What is more, is it possible to balance your writing career and family without turning yourself into a zombie? Everything is feasible; I am the living example of it. There is only one secret: TIME PLAN.This is step one for the aspiring writer's success. Without it, nothing can be achieved. How can you do it? Simply make a rough plan of the time allowed to your writing project every day. It is highly important for the writer to know exactly WHEN he /she is going to settle down and write, feeling free of all the other responsibilities that he has. I have made a simple schedule. You can work out yours according to your family needs.Every morning just after breakfast, and as soon as the family have gone, I allow myself to work on my PC for one to two hours, depending on the workload of the day. Then I go on with the house chores and all the rest of the family tasks till noon. At 2 o' clock everybody is back so I serve lunch, but after that I have 2-3 hours free to work on my morning assignment. Thus, there is plenty of time to care for the family , while in the afternoons I still have time to go to my part time job in time , feeling satisfied I have worked at home on my project. In the evening I sometimes find an hour or so , when the family watch TV . This time I sit with them in the living room , having pre arranged to do the easiest tasks for my writing job, such as note taking or layout planning of new stories or articles. I use pen to paper and I don't bother if I make mistakes. Next morning, there is plenty of time to revise them and complete them. If this plan has been working perfectly for me, why not for you as well?You only have to calculate when and how long you need to write every day. Of course , you must stick to your plan and never give it up , apart from very urgent cases. Remember that your work is also urgent, so never skip it. If you respect your writing job, the others will do so too. What is more, they won't feel neglected as you will give them your care and attention at the time they are around. Furthermore, your house chores will be done in time and you won't feel overworked. " A little every day" is my motto, and, in the long run, everything is done and everybody is happy. Keeping your writing and family under control will make you feel satisfied and everyone, including you, will be happy. Also, keep in mind that there is nothing odd if you work in unconventional places.I sometimes find it stimulating to work in the living room with all the family around. Noise does not bother me ,on the contrary, it brings me more ideas. This article was outlined last evening while we were all watching a football match. Well, the truth is I did not watch much of it! I was absorbed in my new article, but that's how this idea sprang out. I can perfectly work in a chatty setting. Have you tried it? You may come up with fresh ideas and great articles. Finally, who says that writing can turn you into a zombie? Shatter the myth! It's up to you to enjoy both your family and your writing career. Simply make a time plan! Ends 622
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Do you have trouble getting your thoughts and ideas down into an article? Do you find it difficult to put 'pen to paper' to get your book started? Do you sit facing a blank screen struggling to find the words to write? If so, here are some tips and strategies you can use to get your material written quickly.
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Writers are often are greatly surprised or disappointed by how their work is changed when it is adapted for the big screen. When Irwin Shaw's World War II novel The Young Lions was shot in Paris in 1958, the Nazi character was played by Marlon Brando. Ever the method actor, Brando provoked an uproar by strutting around town in his SS uniform, even going into restaurants to dine. The thirty three year old star was unsure if the Parisians ripping his clothes were doing it out of adulation or disdain. Like most actors Brando wanted to be loved and he took his concern to Shaw that the Nazi be made sympathetic. "You just don't understand the character", Brando told the amazed writer. "It's my character," replied Shaw. "Not anymore", replied the actor.
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What do you mean, you don't have a website yet? Websites these days aren't just for businesses and people who want to share their obsession with Buffy the Vampire Slayer with the world. These days, websites are one of the most important tools for writers...
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