Archive For The “The Writer’s Corner” Category
Avoiding writer’s block is something that writers and authors struggle with from time to time.
What do I write about that is worth reading?
What can I write that will hold people’s attention?
These questions and more can plague a writer if they don’t have a source of inspiration.
How does one find inspiration?
If you have trouble coming up with ideas for a story or article, look no further. I will share with you my tips and tricks to help you get back behind the wheel of writing. These are by no means in any order other than they work in some way or another.
- Brainstorm. You’ve done this in school and may have hated it, but it works. Find a word or phrase that catches your attention and go for it.
- Pictures. I’ve used pictures as a way to find a story. While I have a favorite website that I go to, you can also easily just search general pictures until something sparks a thought. I like to find a picture of someone or a group of people and ask myself, “What is going on in this world?”
- Emotions. Emotions are a huge driving factor for stories. Pick one and write a powerful story focusing on that emotion as the main fuel for the fire.
- Music. Music is one of the top 3 for me. If I need to have a certain thought process (anger, sadness, joyful bliss) I will go to YouTube and pull up music that helps me get that mindset.
- Prompts. Writing prompts might seem like a limiting factor to some but my mind was personally changed recently when I entered a writing contest. I was given three prompts for a story under 3,000 words and was very surprised at the end result. This has led me to have a book to work on now that full of mystery, action, and untold surprises. What were the prompts you ask? Action: capturing. Emotion: cold-hearted. Object: onyx-embellished dagger.
- Color. Color may not sound like a very good story inspiring thing but do this as a test; wake up before the sunrise and watch the world around you come alive. When you are first looking out the window, (or if the weather is nice enough, go outside and experience it firsthand!) notice first the darkness and the lack of colors. Things will seem grey and devoid of life, but once the sun begins to peek over the horizon, the grass seems to glow with a green radiance and the neighboring house will pick up the whiteness of the light and throw it back at you making you notice the brightness of the morning. It is simply amazing to see the world come alive this way!
- Pick a word. Grab a dictionary and randomly flip to a page and note the first word that you come across. This is your story prompt. Here is my example: villenage; n. the holding of land at the will of a feudal lord, 2: the status of a villein. This allows for a story that could go any number of ways; the village slave yearns for freedom but because of family is unable to escape, the lord could be gathering land illegally and forcing people to take drastic measures. Set this back in the Anglo-Saxon period and make something happen.
God created animals for many reasons, one of them, I believe is that we should learn from them. The ant is mentioned as they gather their food during the summer while the slack-hearted enjoy the weather and starve later on. Dogs are known to return to their own vomit and eat it while people do the exact same thing with toxic relationships. We know that we shouldn’t do it, yet we find ourselves returning to the same gross pile of refuse time and time again.
- Food. We all eat food whether we like to or not. Food has so many inspiring thoughts involved with it that an entire page could be written about it alone. How does eating something make you feel? Do you only eat when you are emotional? Is it a comfort to you? Does it remind you of past family members when you smell fried chicken? Think of the good and bad things associated with food; diets, nutrition and exercise, social gatherings, stress relief, diseases, memories.
- Sight. Go somewhere you’ve never been and look around. What do you see? How does it make you feel? What is the history of the area?
- Sound. If you still have you hearing, listen to things around you.
But add this twist to it; if you find something annoying, pull that annoyance out of the sound and hear it again. What do you hear? Was it because the sound is connecting an old memory that you have buried in the closet that you find it annoying? Some people find the ticking of an analog clock to be annoying. Why is this? Could be because it is a constant reminder of the time they feel they are wasting waiting on something to be done. Maybe they don’t like the constant ticking sound and would rather have silence? Maybe they are grieving and it is a form of pressure on their mind?
- Smell. Our sense of smell affects a lot of things. Did you know that if you have melted butter and you close your nose off to the smell of it, you will think it is water based on taste alone? You don’t recognize that it is butter until you include your sniffer. Think about how a flower smells to you. Or, to take it the other way, think about how miserable one feels while suffering from allergies.
- Touch. Our sense of touch is an amazing sensory tool.
How many times in a love story is one sent shivers up their spine when the one they love lightly touches the back of the neck with a kiss? The gentle caress of her husband spoke volumes of the amount of love he had for her. Include this is your story and watch people be physically moved by your descriptions.
- Plants. Plants are another great thing to look to for inspiration. Orchids can be exotically wonderful to look at, yet they must have a precise environment to bloom. Trees can bear fruit that is either good or bad and we know the condition of a tree by the quality of their fruit. If a tree produces bad fruit, we cut it down and throw it into the fire.
- Weather conditions. You might not think of weather conditions as a very good story prompt, but I would beg to differ. Think about the Wizard of Oz. Dorothy didn’t just pack up her bags and decide to move to Oz, a tornado helped her get started on her journey. Speaking of tornadoes, think about the Joplin tornado, or perhaps the great dust bowl, or earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes and the list goes on and on.
- Age. This is a great story prompt because it affects the entire story line. When writing about someone that fought in World War 2, you are not going to be using modern language. Likewise if you are writing for a young audience, you will probably want to use language that they use so that they can relate to it better.
- Environment. I’m not talking about saving the planet here. I’m talking about what the environment is like where you are. Do you live near the desert? Coast line? Mountain ranges? All of these are unique in there own way. You don’t find whales living in New Mexico or flamingoes in South Dakota, so keep things true to their environment.
- Family experiences. We all have a story to tell, just ask someone to tell you theirs. I’m continually surprised at what different people are dealing with or have dealt with.
- Time era. This is another of those factors that affect the entire story. Future based? Caveman era? Are dinosaurs involved in your story? How do they react to the things around them?
- Look to yourself. While this may seem like something many writers would want to avoid, you know your strengths and weaknesses better than anyone else. Employ them into your characters to help bring them alive. It doesn’t have to be a major thing either. Pick nail biting as a quirk. This signifies either nervousness or anxiety or it could be a habit that was formed years ago and the person isn’t even aware they are doing it.
This is by no means a complete list. The entire world is out there just waiting to hear your story if you will just tell it.
Got an idea that I missed? Drop it in the comments below.
Writing in general is one of those things in life that is both hard and easy at the same time. But, if a person can master a system that works for them, they are near unstoppable.
While I love writing my stories and enjoy them all for their reasons, getting myself to sit down in front of either my laptop or wielding a pen and paper is hard to do some times.
Some of the things that make writing hard is not knowing whether or not your stuff is good. I’ve tried to get help and support with this from people and it just doesn’t seem to work out. I don’t know the excuses nor do I need to know.
So how does one write good stuff when you don’t know whether or not what your writing is even good to begin with?
This is a valid question and one that I struggled with for a while.
Here is how I found my answer to that.
I just wrote about different stuff until something finally ‘clicked’.
Not only will you find what you enjoy writing this way, but, you will also be able to explore different styles of writing as well.
I had no idea that flash fiction was considered a category in writing. I love writing flash fiction stories. They rank up there with short stories with me. What I love about the flash fiction is the word count limit that is placed on them. Try writing a story that makes sense and gives you an idea of what is going on in under 500 words and you will quickly see the word count number sky rocket! (At this point in this article I’m sitting at 292 words to give you an idea.)
I don’t remember how I came across the flash fiction but I started reading the stories and said to myself, “I can do this.” I wrote my first flash fiction story and had my wife read it and she was thrilled with it. Off the top of my head I can remember one about an off-duty firefighter racing into a burning building and another story about Alzheimer’s disease which is scheduled to appear in a magazine.
So write the story and let people read it. You will be surprised by the results.
Another struggle people face is editing their works.
This is a very simple fix: Head over to Fiverr and find an editor to work with. $5 for an editor to go over your stuff is a steal!
I don’t know what to write about.
Here is three methods that I use. One is my method and another is someone else’s.
Method #1 for writing.
You did this in school and probably hated it or didn’t understand it. (This was me!)
How it works is on a single piece of paper, put down your main idea down in the middle of the paper and draw a circle around it. Time yourself for 1 minute or 60 seconds which ever you prefer, and write everything that comes to mind about the main idea.
Once the time is up pick certain things that work together to form an idea for your story or article and go for it.
Method #2 for writing that comes from photographer Brooke Shaden.
Use a paper and divide it up in halves.
Use these categories, one per half page:
Time (1800’s, future, present times)
Location (Earth, space ship, speck of dust, slaughter house)
Colors (Blue, green, pink, orange)
Genre (Mystery, suspense, thriller, romance)
Character quirks (stutter, kleptomaniac, insomnia, narcissism)
What is apparent with antagonist/protagonist (Truthful vs. lies, virtuous vs. devious, basically what your hero is the villain needs to be the polar opposite.)
Now do basically what you did with the brainstorming method for each of these categories and when you have completed all of them, go back and pick one thing out of each category. This will give you all the bones of the story needed to get started.
Using the above examples would give me this result: In the 1800’s, slaughter houses were the real money-makers of the day. The evening sun sets into brilliant pinks and oranges as a young couple sit upon the warm rocks outside of town waiting for family members to come in for the festival. What they don’t know is the heinous murder being committed. A young boy with insomnia is the sole witness and even he is unsure about what he heard that evening. Did he hear someone with a stutter? Or was it the last gurgle of life escaping the victim’s throat?
See how simple coming up with a story idea can be with this method? I have a time frame with major colors to play with and character quirks to elaborate on and the makings of a very good mystery.
Method #3 for writing.
This is my preferred method as it is the easiest for me and the most fun as well.
Think of a single word or sentence or character trait and start writing.
Here is my example:
Flowers (Keyword for my thought process. I took this word and started writing and this is the story I got without pre-thinking anything else out.)
The man was having a rough day at work as usual. The boss was riding his case about getting the project done by Friday’s presentation schedule and he was far from done.
He had stayed as late as he thought possible without jeopardizing his relationship with his wife each day this week and tonight was the point of making or breaking one or the other. It was their anniversary of 4 years of marriage.
He wanted to be able to provide for his wife by getting this new job but completely underestimated the amount of time it would consume. She had warned him of the possibility of it, but, being a man that he was, he ignored it.
Thinking to himself as he looked at his watch, “Ten till 5. If I hurry now, I might be able to make it.” Grabbing his stuff and flying out the door, the man raced with all haste to the store.
As he burst through the door of the store he shouted, “I need flowers for my wife! What do you have?”
The shop owner looked at him and asked with a suspecting smile, “Are you in trouble?”
“Not this time.”
These are just some examples that I came up with to help you with your writing. But don’t think that this covers all because this doesn’t even come close. There is a whole world out there just waiting to be discovered by you.
Pick up pen and write. Good, bad or ugly; just write.
When it comes to writing stories, many people ask the question; What do I use to write with?
Whatever you want really. Crayons, colored pencils, charcoal, ink, pencil, typewriter, computer, paper, doesn’t matter really.
What does matter is whether you want other people to read what you have to say.
I am one of those people that love to write. Articles, stories, thoughts, poems (though very sparingly), anything really. The day came when I got my smartphone. This was both a curse and a blessing. Here is that story.
I have been under the illusion that I should more popular than I am. Vain and shallow really. I understand that humility is by far better than being famous and well known. Well, a long story short and omitting tons of details that have brought me to this point is that I started writing on my phone. It was an iPhone 5c if anyone cares. (Yes, past tense is used here.)
So I did what lots of people do; I started a blog thing.
While I admit that I still to this day don’t understand the full point of a blog, I have one that I don’t access anymore. Shame because it has a couple good ones on it. Anyway, I started blogging. My version of blogging anyway.
I had some success with that. I didn’t gather a huge crowd, but people did read my stuff and that pleased me and the curse began. Everyday I would log in and look at the stats for it. People were reading my posts. This was encouraging for me. So I wrote more. The numbers eventually defeated me as I couldn’t get more than a few people to read what I had to say due to the lack of stupidity involved in my articles. You know the ones I referencing. Eventually this blog died, was resuscitated, and allowed to die again. I just didn’t understand the process. How to get people to read my stuff? In the end it didn’t matter as I went away from blogging.
I got into affiliate marketing with a website as my next endeavor. This was another obsession of mine as I struggled for over a year to discover my love for writing. It wasn’t that I didn’t have good things to say, it was that I didn’t have an interest in crap and the fruitless things in life.
BIG TIP: Unless you can morally write crap down on the page and prey upon people’s desire for stuff and can get an Amazon affiliate account, then pursue the affiliate game. In the 1 year that I did the affiliate game with 2 websites, I made a whooping $0. In fact, we actually lost money due to the investment in the whole thing.
Little did I know that God had lined up all this for me for a reason. Had I had success with the affiliate game, I would not have found my passion for story writing and article writing. This was a fantastic investment for me as I now love to write stories and stuff on my days off and love every minute of it.
Okay, backstory complete. Let’s get to the meat of the article. That’s why you’re here right?
What program to use for writing.
My #1 go to program for writing is Libre Office.
Remember what I said about affiliate marketing? Normally this would be where I would plug in my affiliate link for it. But, since this is not the game I play anymore, don’t worry about this.
Libre Office is a free download. It gives you several things that would cost you a small fortune should you chose to purchase a similar program from others.
- Document Writer
- Calc Spreadsheet
- Impress Presentation
- Draw Drawing
- Math Formula
- Base Database
What does it compare to?
I have been a Windows user ever since we purchased our first computer. Not that others are not good as well, its that this is the most practical for us. There is also Mac and Linux out there.
Document writer is a lot like Word, except in my opinion, much better.
To start with, I don’t get asked every time I start my computer, “New updates available, would you like to install now?” Are you kidding me? I just did that yesterday! That got on my nerves quickly and turned my love to hate for that reason.
Libre Office is also free. (Unless you want to be a good person and donate some money to it.) Free software that works incredibly well. Just like everything else with computers, once you learn it, it is second nature to use.
One of the best features in my opinion is the save icons. There is one at the top and one at the bottom. What I like about these is that when you change the document from the last saved version, the icon lights up. After you save the button becomes inactive. How clever. It tells you with a glance whether or not you saved it. No more asking, “Did I get this saved? Did it work?” You have visual proof that it did and can rest assured to close the program and not lose your hard work.
Another program to help with writing is called Grammarly.com
I have used this in the past. It does a good job of catching mistakes that people with English as a second language will benefit from. You can add it to the top menu much like the Pinterest button.
How this works is really neat. Add the button and then it will follow you around the web and give the squiggly lines that tell you something isn’t right. A bonus with this, it even follows you into comments on websites such as FB, Twitter, G+ and others. Now you will no longer sound like a illiterate person when commenting on something. A HUGE + for some people!
Have you ever wanted to have someone check your work for errors? Download your work into the Grammarly checker and run a check. It will pull up mistakes and possible fixes for it. Buy the premium version and get the better checker package.
Just a heads up: I’ve read into it and I personally wouldn’t buy the premium version as the basic version would contradict itself in that I would change something and it would immediately pull up the same thing and say it was needing attention. Just letting you know, some times it runs in circles. But, I have a particular writing voice and perhaps this is the cause.
Still worth a look into. (Plus, you can get an affiliate link through Shareasale. Those days are way far behind me and I probably will never dabble with them again.)
So what do you think? Was this helpful advice or not? Let me know what you think.
While I believe that learning should never stop, sometimes we get out of the habit. The Writer’s Corner is a place where you can see what I’m learning about. Also, helpful advice, tools to write with, people to follow, and more will be added as I continue down my path of being a writer.
I have a Pinterest Board that is completely dedicated to improving my writing and I add things to it every time I log in it seems like. Follow Zavier’s board Writing Related on Pinterest.
I also have found that I have a strong encouraging nature even if I rarely voice it. I try my hardest to make what I write useful and informative. However, just as much as I write entertainment stories, I also write encouragement and uplifting articles. Here is a board that has tons of empowering and encouragement crammed into a tiny area. Follow Zavier’s board Empowerment. on Pinterest.
Hopefully, you will be encouraged by my writing to pick up your laptop or pen and paper and write. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as you do it.
Get in touch with me on FB by going to the page set up for it. Here we can chat about story ideas and challenge each other with something. I have lots of ideas but not enough time to write them all. Ask me for an idea and I will definitely hook you up.