Showing posts with label writing ideas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label writing ideas. Show all posts

Creativity Sparks the Writing Practice


Creativity Sparks the Writing Practice by Deborah Lyn Stanley

Brainstorming is a technique for generating ideas and creative solutions. It’s a wonderful way to grab a bundle of topic and story ideas. Several pathways can be used for group or solo gathering.

Creativity of any kind is helpful.
* Do you love art? Check out paintings from the masters online.
* Do you stitch or work with yarn? There’ are lots of videos on YouTube.
* Do you paint or draw? A walk-in nature is sure to inspire!
* Ever wished to paint? Check out Facebook groups or Pinterest.

My first experience of brainstorming happened during a company training session. A problem was presented and discussion began, guided by a facilitator.  Throughout the discussion, ideas written on small pages lined the walls. Each participant was encouraged to contribute, no idea is too quirky to build upon. When each member is involved in developing solutions, it’s more likely to find a solution.

Four Techniques have been used for Effective Brainstorming:
1.    Starbursting focuses on forming questions instead of answers, beginning with who, what, where, when, and why.
2.    Mind Mapping may be the most classical approach and the one seen most often. The written goal is noted in a center circle, with lines branching out to subtopics, and again for subcategories. Circled notes continue as ideas continue to form.
3.    Blind Writing is free-form writing, forcing you to put pen to paper for a minimum of 10 minutes to open up fresh ideas. The one rule is that you must keep writing for those 10 minutes.
4.    Reverse Storming is idea generation in the opposite, gathering ideas of how I can stop a goal from succeeding. It helps to uncover fresh approaches.

For additional information see:

Deborah Lyn Stanley is an author of Creative Non-Fiction. She writes articles, essays and stories. She is passionate about caring for the mentally impaired through creative arts.
Visit her My Writer’s Life website at:   
Visit her caregiver’s website:

Mom & Me: A Story of Dementia and the Power of God’s Love is available:



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Finding Writing Ideas

Writers are a wealth of ideas for posts, articles, and story. Many enjoy brainstorming and kicking around notions.  I think it’s always useful to have a topic list for generating ideas. Your journal is a great place to keep & grow your theme ideas.

Twelve topic tips to keep readership interest by promoting a personal connection:
•    What is the hardest thing about being a writer?
•    Who inspired you to start writing?
•    Describe how you establish goals.
•    List the podcasts you value and offer links to those sites.
•    Discuss the hurdles you experience with the craft of writing, and how you worked to overcome weaknesses. (grammar, style, structure, logic)
•    Post your favored writing routine: most productive time(s) of day, scheduling issues, best plan.
•    What was the topmost writing advice you’ve received? Share it.
•    Write about your current project and the progress you are making.
•    How do you research a topic? Discuss your practice and tips.
•    Write a review for a book you have enjoyed or in which you’ve found value.
•    Generate questions for readership participation.
•    Foster a sense of adventure and curiosity as you create and grow a “clipping file” with articles, posts, and newspaper articles that spark your interest and imagination. Share some.

For something more on this topic pick up a copy of “Where Do You Get Your Ideas? A Writer’s Guide to Transforming Notions into Narratives” by Fred White, for fiction and non-fiction.

Deborah Lyn Stanley: blog
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Deborah Lyn Stanley is a writer, artist, and editor.  She is a retired project manager who now devotes her time to writing, art and caring for mentally impaired seniors. Deborah writes articles, essays and stories.
 Visit her web-blog: Deborah Lyn Stanley : MyWriter's Life

“Write your best, in your voice, your way!”

Are You Living the Writer's Life?

Yesterday as I was coaching a client, she said she had trouble connecting her writing life to her "regular" life.

She has so many things coming up in her personal life in the next month or so, that she just wasn't sure how she would continue doing things for her writing life, too.

Yet she didn't want to lose the momentum she'd gained in the past few months for her writing career.

This is a common feeling or situation among writers.

Many tend to see their writing or their writing business as a separate part of their lives.

When they do, they tend to either let their writing take over their personal lives almost completely (and they write, write, write all the time) or they NEVER find time for their writing or their writing business because they're always caught up in personal or family matters.

Either way, they constantly feel guilty and stressed.

So what's a writer to do?

Well...I think the answer is to live the writer's life all the time.

That doesn't mean you have to be writing all day, every day.

It just means you need to be making connections between your personal life and your writing life as often as you can, so you don't feel you have to sacrifice one part of your life for the other.

For example, take the things you enjoy in your personal life and write about them.

I do this all the time, often selling my personal essays, stories, articles, or other items to magazines, newspapers, online publications, and other publishers.

The great thing about doing this is that I can write about almost anything.

As you go about your day today – and every day – think of ways to connect your personal life with your writing life.

In other words, live the writer's life!

It's fun and profitable when you do.

Can't Think of Anything in Your Life Worth Writing About?

Try one of these ideas:

1. Your Most Memorable Birthday

2. The Best Car Trip You Ever Took - or the Worst Car Trip You Ever Took

3. Your Biggest Teenage Crush

4. The Scariest Thing That Has Ever Happened to You

5. The Most Difficult Thing You've Ever Done

6. How You Learned to Drive

7. The Worst Date You Ever Had

8. The Most Difficult Person You Ever Met

9. Staying Fit - Easy and Fun or Next to Impossible

10. Your Favorite Place in the World

Suzanne Lieurance is a freelance writer, the author of over 30 published books, and the Working Writer's Coach.

Let her teach you how to turn writing about your personal experiences into a career and your brand.

Learn more at

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.

A Picture Paints a Thousand Words

When I was a child, I lingered with my Golden Books, intently studying the pictures. They were as important, if not more important, than the story. 

We all know how moving a picture can be to help tell a story - whether simple or complex. But how about the picture being the source of inspiration for a story or article?

If you're feeling the late winter slump (particularly those of us who live where spring is in a holding pattern), grab a book of photographs and find a cozy spot to browse and reflect.

Time Life, National Geographic, and even your own photo albums are chock full of material to get you thinking. Not only that, but it is relaxing and will help take your mind off everything that vies for attention.

I keep my iPhone or camera handy and I'm in the routine of capturing special moments in time. 

I took this picture when I went snowshoeing this winter and it produced several ideas for an article.

When I woke up one morning in my daughter's apartment, this is what I saw:

(That one is tucked away for later).

Here's one from my backyard, just before a storm. As I watched the sky groan with turmoil, it conjured up a plot of the struggles that can come in a relationship.

Finally, some years ago, my 5-year-old made this drawing on our computer. It sparked an idea for a children's book I'd like to write:

If you haven't tried letting pictures help you write, try it!

Whatever your genre, pictures will help you paint a thousand words.  


After raising and homeschooling her 8 children, Kathy has found time to pursue freelance writing. You can find her passion to bring encouragement and hope to people of all ages at When It Hurts -

Photo credit: Kathleen Moulton © all rights reserved

All Those Little Ideas

This last week I made the decision to "spring clean" my office, even though, in Arizona we are well into the summer already. Clutter be gone, I'd decided. Which meant it was an opportunity to review and organize everything. I always think this effort will take a few hours and then I open one drawer in my desk. We'll call it my idea drawer. It's where I keep the short stories I've written, but never rewritten, the snippets of conversations I've overheard at the store, the coffee shop or the park I've jotted down on receipts, napkins and envelopes. And suddenly, the moments turn to hours as I realize the wealth of  wonderful material I've squirreled away.

As a beginner, I remember experienced writers telling me not to throw any of my writing away. They told me to carry a notebook and pen and write down the ideas. Even after decades of writing stuff, I still have challenges remembering to write the thoughts down. I'm not always consistent. In fact, just the other day I came across an article in a journal. I read it in between some work I needed to get done. Now sitting here, I can't for the life of me remember what it was I'd read, and worse yet, what my amazing idea for a novel was.

Here are some tips to keeping and organizing your ideas:

1. Carry paper and pens, use the recorder in your phone, or find a really great electronic notebook to use to put your thoughts down.

2. Organize your thoughts into folders. Your files might be titled conversations, metaphors, and ideas for pieces.

3. Keep these files at your fingertips for ease of retrieval, whether it be in electronic format or paper.

4. Review whenever you find yourself stuck. You might not find what you are looking for, but you just might realize how creative you are and that might push you through.


D. Jean Quarles is a writer of Women's Fiction and a co-author of a Young Adult Science Fiction Series. Her latest book, Flight from the Water Planet, Book 1 of The Exodus Series was written with coauthor, Austine Etcheverry.

D. Jean loves to tell stories of personal growth – where success has nothing to do with money or fame, but of living life to the fullest. She is also the author of the novels: Rocky's Mountains, Fire in the Hole and, Perception. The Mermaid, an award winning short story was published in the anthology, Tales from a Sweltering City.  

She is a wife, mother, grandmother and business coach. In her free time . . . ha! ha! ha! Anyway, you can find more about D. Jean Quarles, her writing and her books at her website at

You can also follower her at or on Facebook

Writing Minute by Minute

In the theory assignment for their qualification, my students have to answer set questions on the practice and principles of assessment.

The questions are clearly stated for each unit section and subsection. The evidence they need to produce in their answers is itemized in the course handbook.

All they have to do is put the questions and answers together. Can they do it? No.

The excuses seem valid--not enough time, too many interruptions, inability to cope with work, home and family as well as compiling a portfolio for a qualification. The deadline looms and deadlock hits the brain.

To solve the problem, I copied each question into a Word file leaving a suitable boxed space for them to type in an answer. In that space I printed the keywords they need to incorporate.

Each week I shall send one unit. In eight weeks, the course will be completed--just in time for the exam board to  accredit their qualification.

Confine  Your Writing                      

A foolproof way for writers struggling with time and/or family constraints to complete a full-length work is obviously to divide it into sections.

But these need not be chapters. Try confining yourself to paragraphs or even sentences. Give your ideas time to percolate. 

Whether you're struggling with a short story, a newspaper article, a novella or even a novel--divide it into sections.

Novels up until the mid-twentieth century often had little summaries to preface each chapter.

image from classroom

Chapter One
In which Mistress Craddock finds the flower garden besieged by cows and her sympathies sorely tried...

For a writer starting out or one stuck for ideas, this is a fun way to let the ideas talk for themselves.

Start as always with the inciting incident. What starts the action rolling? Then let the journalist's mantra take hold.

Who, what, when, where, why and how. The order in which you choose to answer these questions is what gives your unique twist to the tale.

Back to Mistress Craddock. Who was responsible for letting the cows escape? Why was it so trying for her at this particular time? How will her problems be resolved?

Pop in your keywords. Each question can be answered with another until bit by bit you've constructed a completed work. Ten minutes a day can still produce great stories, great writing.

 Anne Duguid is a senior content editor with MuseItUp Publishing and she shares hopefully helpful, writing, editing and publishing tips at Slow and Steady Writers relatively regularly. 



Guest Post by Gordon Rothwell

I think most writers have hazy, unformed ideas kicking around in the shadowy recess of their brains. And it’s almost impossible to tell when they might pop out. Or if they ever will.

When I was an advertising copywriter in San Francisco years ago I was always working on print campaigns that demanded catchy headlines. Often, I’d be wracking my poor brain for weeks without success. Then, as I stood under a hot shower head with the water pounding the back of my neck, out popped the winning headline! I also kept a notepad and pen handy beside my bed, just in case my subconscious came up with a brilliant idea while I was catching some zzzz’s.

But there are other more complex ideas that need a long gestation period before they’re ready to make an appearance in the outside world. Take my bullfight story, The Seventh Bull, for example. It took over 70 years before it saw the light of day.

I guess it all began way back in 1940 when I was just a boy sitting in a darkened Seattle movie house watching wide-eyed as Tyrone Power, in a glittering suit of lights, faced an angry thousand-pound bull in Blood and Sand. I was captivated by the pageantry, colorful costuming and spectacle of the sport.

Through the ensuing years, I became a huge fan of the bullfight. I read everything I could find, especially the writings of Ernest Hemingway. I collected cardboard boxes and filled them to the brim with magazine tear sheets and hardback books and paperbacks on bullfighting.

Eventually, as a young adult I saw my first corrida in person in Barcelona, Spain.  That was quite a thrill. But the event that stuck in my mind was another bullfight I attended in the 1960’s in Tijuana, Mexico. I went south of the border from Los Angeles with a group of friends. We wanted to see Antonio Ordoñez, the Number One Matador in the world at that time, in his first appearance outside of Spain. Ordoñez had been featured in a three-part article by Ernest Hemingway in LIFE magazine. Papa’s write up told of an historic mano-a-mano duel between Ordoñez and Luis Dominguin, a darling of the world press and Ava Gardner’s beau.

That entire experience in Tijuana was absolutely surreal. Especially the wild partying at a famous motel after the bullfight. While a strolling mariachi band trumpeted out hot songs equally hot young senoritas clad in tight leather outfits and flat-brimmed sombreros clapped their hands and wriggled their behinds to the delight of a large gathering of Hollywood stars and starlets. Much of what I saw and heard that weekend crept into a corner of my brain and began to percolate.

A half-century later my Seventh Bull tale showed its face to the world when  purchased by MuseItUp Publishing a few months ago. My bullfight story had been growing inside my brain for over 50 years.

If a story is worth developing, you have to dig deep. And find it.

Yank it out by the horns if you have to.

You’re not a Spanish rancher raising high-spirited Miura and Vistahermosa bulls for the arena. You are a breeder of ideas. And if you nurture yours, one day it will come charging out of the chute, past the Gate of Frights, and into the literary arena to give a memorable performance that will have fans cheering: “Ole΄! Ole΄!” and critics raving.

Come on. Grab those horns! And watch what happens!

Gordon Rothwell was born in Seattle and got a BA in Journalism from the University of Washington. As an advertising copywriter—one of the original Mad Men— he wrote material for over 100 major firms in California, including PR for the Apollo lunar space program. He received numerous awards including a CLIO (the Oscar of advertising). He’s also a sportswriter and screenwriter, and many of his screenplays have won and been finalists in the Motion Picture Academy's Nicholl, Acclaim, Chesterfield, Hollywood Symposium, and FADE IN competitions. He’s published articles and stories in numerous men's magazines as well as youth-oriented publications like BOY’S LIFE. He enjoys the fanciful and macabre on screen and in books. Gordon now lives in the shadow of Mt. Shasta, surrounded by a loving family and one sweet pit bull named “Dreamer.”  Mr. Rothwell’s blog address is  And, he can be contacted as “Gordon_Rothwell” on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.


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