Showing posts with label Tips for Beginning Writers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tips for Beginning Writers. Show all posts

Generating Writing Ideas

Spring is a great time to clean out your idea files but sometimes ideas seem to elude even the best writers. They hide beneath the surface like flower bulbs planted in the fall seeming to be forgotten. How is it then a writer can cultivate that which has been forgotten and come up with new and fresh ideas when it is time to sit down and write. Like a well groomed garden it takes some planning. Here is my take on that process.
  • It has been said by writing masters wiser than I that it is imperative to jot down ideas as they come to you.  To do that takes nothing more than a pen and notepad though I wager to say most writers depend on technology to record their snippets. Pick your device and heed to the advice. Write it down as it comes to you, least you forget.
  • Keep a file drawer. Alphabetically, organized by topic, on neon 3 x 5 cards or on plain 3 x 5 cards, or on those pretend sticky notes on your cell phone.... keep an idea file. I like to put similar ideas together for informative E-Book possibilities or serial blog post topics. I also keep a file of character names, another for cool places that might make a great setting for a story or novel, and a file for my bucket list of " I want to write this" before I die. Read the newspaper or watch the news for current political topics but also for ideas on fashion, weather, or community and make a file. When my ideas seem to have disappeared into thin air, I can review a file and usually the creative juices start flowing again.
  • Decide what you want to write and where you wish to be published. This is important if you are not well known yet and don't have a huge author platform. Concentrate on gathering all important information on these few publishers, magazines, or websites initially so your writing ideas and submissions can be targeted specifically. Target audiences, target markets, and targeting your ideas to a specific topic will increase your chances of getting an acceptance and will help to guide your writing. Hopefully as you write, submit, and publish more frequently the ideas will flow easier and but the process will be the same. Gathering info, honing your idea, and submitting to the most likely publisher will become second nature.
  • Rest. Giving your mind a break by doing something other than writing can also help you to generate ideas. A walk in the woods, a nap, listening to music, painting, sewing, or just sitting quietly listening to nature can give your mind the pause it needs to rejuvenate.
  • Keep your body healthy. Eat well, drink plenty of water, and nurture your spiritual side will also help you to keep the writing ideas flowing. Poor health, pain, suffering, and feeling tired will make generating ideas seem more difficult.
Last but not least and what happens to me more often than not is this:  I loose my pencil, can't find a piece of paper in my purse to save my soul, I am driving in traffic or taking a shower and that's  when  my best ideas come to me. Then I must resort to repeating the idea to myself, calling my cell phone and leaving a voice mail, or ( and oh how I hate to put this in writing) I resort to using an eye liner or lip stick on the bathroom mirror to jot down that key word or two so I surely won't forget.

Ideas really are all around us. And like those bulbs hidden in the dirt last season, come spring when we most need to refresh, our ideas can be cultivated and reworked, organized and nurtured into full blown sprouting gardens of words and sentences that will entertain, educate, and touch our readers.
How do you get your ideas? Share a secret or two from your writing experiences won't you?

Terri Forehand writes from the hills of Brown County Indiana where she lives with her husband and several rescue dogs and cats. She is the author of The ABC's of Cancer According to Lilly Isabella Lane and The Cancer Prayer Book for adults. She is currently working on 61 Tips for Parents of Kids with Cancer.

What's Your Best Advice?

I am at heart a devotional writer. It's been my "calling" for quite a while. But when I'm not writing you will most likely find me with my nose in a piece of fiction. I love to read. My husband has been telling me for years I should write fiction since I read so much of it. I just never felt the nudge toward doing that. Well, that is until three weeks ago.

This one character from the Bible kept cropping up all over the place. I started to think about her story. What were the parts and pieces of it? What if it was a modern day story? How would it play out? Who would be involved in the story? The questions kept coming. I couldn't get away from them, so I started jotting them down and eventually started answering some of them. For a brief moment, I thought about trying my hand at actually writing the story. But I squashed that idea because "I don't write fiction". That worked until the character woke me up from a dream, giving me the same phrase over and over. I realized it was the answer to one of my questions and possibly the opening line of the book. I used to think authors who said their characters talked to them were crazy or kidding. Not anymore!

So, I've decided to take the plunge and write the book. I'm not new to writing, but I am new to fiction. And even though I've been reading it for years, I still feel ill-equipped to write it well. What is one piece of advice you would give to me or any writer venturing into this arena for the first time. I've got my pen ready to take notes. 

About the Author:

Marietta "Mari" Taylor is the the author of Surviving Unemployment Devotions To Go. Find out more about Mari at her blog or her website,

Writing From The Heart: Laura Smith author of “In All Things; Giving Thanks When Hope Seems Lost”

Writing came easily for me because it came from my own personal experiences and a deep place within me. I write very honestly and hold nothing back. I believe that by the power of our testimony others will find healing. I believe sugar coating things makes for a nice story but has no impact. Of course this depends on the type of books that are being written. Creativity plays in more in some writing genre’s than others.

When I was very young, I remember sitting in my grandmother’s kitchen on the floor while my grandparents and their friends sat at the table playing cards. They would play for hours and hours and often times into the night. While I would sit there on the floor, I was very content in doing so because I was in my own little world doing what I never imagined would be my heart’s desire later in life. I was writing stories and songs, and reading them or singing them out loud for my card playing family to adore. Now, thinking back to that time and the fact I was only about 4 years old and had no idea how to even write my name let alone a story or a song, I’ve concluded it had to be God planting within me the inspiration and desire to write.

Fast forward to my teen years, I remember wondering why I was even on this earth or why would God put me in a family that didn’t seem to even want me. I was always called a mistake and they would tease me when I was younger that they found me on the streets of St. Paul. It’s no wonder I married the town rebel two weeks after my high school graduation! Finally someone loved me and I wasn’t going to let that go.

Again, fast forward 18 years and two daughters later, I’m re-married. My youngest daughter was molested by her biological dad, is diagnosed with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and Bipolar disorder, my oldest daughter diagnosed with neurofibromatosis and going through numerous back surgeries, many other trials and then being told my husband and I will never have a child of our own. But wait! After weeks of being sick a random pregnancy test to rule out that possibility, I’m PREGNANT! A miracle! It took us weeks to absorb this miracle and with growing excitement from our entire family, I lost the baby 3 months into the pregnancy.

While some write to entertain, I found the writing process was very healing for me. Journaling through trials helped me to empty the pain of the day from my heart onto paper so I could start fresh the next day. As was the case when I initially started writing “In All Things”, it was simply in a journal and a way for me to try and process the grief of going through miscarriage. Later, my original intent was not to publish a book, however; when I had one person read it and then another, and another, the feedback was amazing! It was like a sense of urgency that the message within was something people needed to hear. And even the men who have read it have been profoundly affected. 

Since the publishing of this book, I have had inspiration for another book to be a second in the “In All Things” series. The next one will be “In all things; Expect A Miracle” which is about an amazing two years going through my dad’s cancer journey with him. Also since publishing, I have been asked to speak at a few local events and my desire is to be able to do that more. I feel when you can share your story in person, it can touch people more deeply.   

At one of events where I shared my story, there was a lady in the audience that was healed instantly from the pain she was suffering for two years! I would love the opportunity to see others find that same healing and freedom to live again. I encourage others with a personal story to get it out there, the reward, and I don’t mean monetary, is far greater than the fear.  

Author Bio: Laura works as a medical coding and reimbursement specialist in Northern Minnesota. In All Things is a witty and raw account of an otherwise normal life filled with incredible challenges that will make you laugh out loud and cry tears of joy and tears of sorrow. Her little family had no idea that the life experiences they walked through early on and one life altering event would prepare them for the near death of her oldest daughter.
Author’s Contact:
Link to Purchase: also available at all major online book sellers.

Halo Publishing and the World of Ink Network are currently touring author Laura Smith’s, In All Things: Giving Thanks When Hope Seems Lost published by Halo Publishing Int.

About the Book:
Experience an incredible journey that will make you laugh out loud and cry tears of joy and sorrow. Learn how one miraculous encounter with God created an unshakeable faith that would later give Laura Smith the strength to face the near death of her oldest daughter.

Get a sneak peek of the book at

Today on The Writing Mama show at BTR's World of Ink Network, Laura Smith will be sharing about her book and the experience of sharing her life story. Come listen live or on demand at
You can find out more about Laura Smiths’s World of Ink Author/Book Tour at
To learn more about the World of Ink Tours visit



Writing for publication takes practice. Lots of practice. You don’t study for six weeks and then play first violin with a symphony orchestra, become a brain surgeon, or compete in the Olympics. Too many wannabe writers jot down some ideas from the top of their heads and then call me asking how to find a publisher. What they’ve written might be good. If they have some innate talent, it may be very good for a beginner. But it will get better with refinement. To submit a first draft manuscript is about as rational as entering a newborn baby in a marathon.

Writing for publication takes both short and long-range goals that are specific and measurable. To complete a short story in thirty days is a short-range goal. To find a publisher for the story by the end of the year is a long-range one. Interim goals will include refining your story and studying market guides to find a half dozen or so potential publishers.

Writing for publication happens sooner when writers narrow the focus of their works according to what they want to accomplish through each piece. They do this by asking themselves three questions:
A. Why am I writing this piece? To share a family story I want passed down? To paint the world in which I grew up? To entertain my readers with a funny incident I’ve experienced? To give my readers a story to help them escape their daily grind? Whatever the purpose, the story must excite the writer so it can be written with passion.
B. For whom am I writing this piece? The next generation? My family? Any contemporary reader? A reader who wants a laugh? It helps to have a specific reader in mind, such as my best friend, or someone who opposes abortion. It’s your decision.
C. What do I want to say? That I had fun growing up with eight siblings? That we live in a unique era with many blessings? That some days we need to learn to laugh at ourselves? That we can visit other worlds, real or imaginary, by reading a good book? Again, it’s your call.

Writing for publication goes faster and avoids dead ends once the writer summarizes the piece in one sentence of twenty-five words or less. Fewer words are better. If you can’t do that, chances are you don’t have a clear idea of what you are writing or why. Neglect this step and you are setting yourself up for a roadblock in the future. You can find examples of these summary sentences by looking at the cataloging in the books you are reading, or in the summary sentences in book reviews.

Writing for publication works best when you brainstorm everything you know about the story before you attempt to write the first paragraph. You can do this by making a list, or by free writing a paragraph about the things you want to include. When you can’t think of any more, read what you have written and organize it into an outline. Study the outline to see if it’s inclusive or if it has things you don’t want to include. Make necessary changes. Now you are ready to begin writing. It’s acceptable to make changes as you go along. You have to know where you are going if you expect to arrive at your destination. An outline helps you figure that out.

No matter what genre you want to learn to write, I recommend three things to help you on your way. Be as regular with practicing them as you are in taking your daily vitamins.
A. Read! Read! Read! It’s important to read all kinds of books, but concentrate on the kind you aspire to create.
B. Read How-to-books in the genre you want to write. Find them in the library, in the bookstore, on line at sites like Barnes and Noble or Amazon Books. Or Google the topic you are looking for, such as plotting, characterization, or viewpoint.
C. Write! Write! Commit to writing every day, 24/7. It doesn’t have to be the next chapter of your manuscript, but it should be something that you have to think about.

About the Author: Hope Irvin Marston is a member of the New York State Retired Teachers, the Greater Thousand Islands Literacy Council, the Jeff-Lewis Librarians Association, and the Adirondack Center for Writing, the St. Lawrence County Arts Council, the North Country Arts Council and SCBWI. She organized the Black River Valley Writers Club and served as its leader for several years.
In addition to writing thirty-two children’s books and several adult titles, Hope has been on staff for Christian Writers Conferences at Hephzibah Heights (MA), Montrose Bible Conference (PA) and at St. Davids Christian Writers Conference at Beaver Falls, PA. She has taught creative writing workshops at Jefferson Community College, the Jefferson-Lewis Teacher Center and the North Country Arts Council.
Her picture book series, MY LITTLE BOOK COLLECTION (Windward), has grown to eight titles thus far and has 125,000 books in print.

Hope does school visits from kindergarten through post-graduate college and presents writing workshops for kids and adults. When she is not researching, reading or writing, you may find her cooking or baking in the kitchen, or out walking Heidi.

The World of Ink Network will be touring three of award-winning author Hope Irvin Marston books. Her most recent release Eye on the Iditarod: Aisling’s Quest (ISBN: 978-0-89317-071-4) is a biography, but was written as an autobiography. Windward Publishing (An imprint of Finney Company) released the book December 1, 2011. The other two books on tour are My Little Book of Bald Eagles also from Windward Publishing (An imprint of Finney Company) and Against the Tide: The Valor of Margaret Wilson from P & R Publishing. 

You can find out more about Hope Irvin Marston’s World of Ink Author/Book Tour schedule at There will be giveaways, reviews, interviews, guest posts and more. Make sure to stop by and interact with Marston and the hosts at the different stops by leaving comments and/or questions. For each comment, you will be entered into the big Giveaway at the end of the tour.

In addition, come listen the February 6, 2012 to Blog Talk Radio’s World of Ink Network show: Stories for Children at The hosts VS Grenier and Irene Roth will be chatted with Hope Irvin Marston about her books, writing, the publishing industry and experiences. The show aired live February 6, 2012 at 2pm EST.

Your Children's Story and the Message

  By Karen Cioffi, Children's Writer I get a lot of clients who want to tell children something through a book. These people want to sen...