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Posts tagged ‘ideas’

Generate new ideas by letting your mind wander

Everywhere you look, people are glued to their phones—in the elevator, in restaurants, and unfortunately while they’re driving down the road.

Phone preoccupation has a cost. For one thing, it limits time and the opportunity to mine your subconscious for ideas. If you’re looking for ways to supercharge your creativity, set your phone aside and let your mind wander. Comedy writer David Evans shared this tip on a weekly teleseminar hosted this month by Stephanie Chandler, CEO of the Nonfiction Authors Association.

If you want to generate more ideas, devote time to accessing your subconscious where much of the creative process is at work. You’ll think of ideas, plot twists, and answers to your writing dilemmas by letting your mind wander, says Evans. He calls it, “wandering time.”

Evans talked about what makes comedy—An element of surprise for one thing. But to get there, you need new ideas. Evans started out writing greeting cards. His first big job in comedy was writing for “The Monkees,” a 1960s television show, in which he won an Emmy Award for Best Comedy. He went on to write 19 “Love American Style” television scripts, as well as other shows.

Embrace your wandering mind
Once you divert your attention to your phone, email, texting, or social media, you’ve kicked yourself out of your “wandering mind.” Take advantage of opportunities to let your mind roam: on the bus, at the doctor’s office, or while waiting in lines.

Chandler, who writes about book marketing and publishing, has experienced the power of wandering time. She was struggling to come up with a title for one of her books. “It hit me when I was standing in line at Starbucks,” she said. “If I was on my smart phone, I wouldn’t have thought of it.”

Access magical thinking
The creative process is magical and mysterious. Does it ever seem as though sentences and ideas pop up out of nowhere? Your ideas will bubble to the surface. You just have to create a connection to your subconscious, Try these techniques: Read more

Why original research is important to your stories

In my last post, “How to make dry research fun,” I wrote about the research I’m doing for my current work-in-progress. I’m writing a story that contains fallen angels, demons, and even the greatest fallen angel of all time.

Part of my research involves reading current novels that contain this subject matter so I can see what’s out there and what’s been done (so I don’t repeat it). But this is not all or even the majority of my research. Most of my reading is of historical texts and references. I’m going back in time to find the “real” history of my characters and themes.

So why not just read what’s hot now? If I were writing a vampire novel, I’d want to read, among others, Stoker’s Dracula, Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, and Meyer’s Twilight (to see what all the fuss is about).

But if I only read these books, I’d be basing my knowledge on other author’s perceptions, themes, and ideas.  Read more

How important is talent in writing?

My biggest pet peeve is when I hear somebody say writing can’t be taught. Of course it can. Maybe it can’t be taught like brain surgery–follow a certain protocol and you’ll have success. But through consistent effort and learning from our mistakes, we can become better writers.

One of my favorite quotes from Terry Gilliam, writer, director, and member of the comedy group Monty Python, reminds me of this fact: Read more

Boost your creativity by doodling

Sometimes my brain seizes up when I sit down at the computer to write. It’s as if the glare of the screen and the cold, hard keys have drained all the energy out of my ideas. But since I rely on the keyboard and computer to put sentences down on the page, I have to work around it.

So I was intrigued when I read about doodling as a way to boost creativity. Roisin Markham writes about how doodling brings an unconscious clarity to her thinking process.

I’m planning to try it. For all the details, check out Roisin’s post at CreativeDynamix.

Three steps to free up your words and ideas

Writing is a lot like life. Some days, it flows like the Rio Grande—the words rush and tumble from our pen and we feel as if we can hardly keep up. Other days, we wonder where the ten-foot beavers came from that overnight built the dam that not only blocks our proficiency but our very ability to form syllables, put words in the right order.

I had one of these days recently. I felt as if my synapses were asleep, as if I just couldn’t find the words. Any words. They were gone. But I really needed to write the last poem for my poetry manuscript. And I had a deadline. So, what did I do? Three things.

1. Mind-map.  First, I drew a mind-map. With a mind-map, you only need to come up with one word at a time. It’s a great tool to use after you’ve had a visit from the ten-foot beavers. First, you draw a circle in the center of your paper and then lines or branches out from that in all directions.

I wrote the word “Sorrento” in the circle because I knew the poem was going to be about my trip there a few years ago. I knew the poem had something to do with language so I wrote that word on one of my branches. I drew three branches from the main branch of “language” and named them English, Spanish, and Italian. Then, I drew a branch and called it “sightseeing.” I drew a line off that branch for every statue, piazza, or shop that made an impression on me (meaning ones that I still remember five years later). Read more

Finetune your instincts for spotting writing ideas

I was inspired when I read my blogging partner Carol’s post yesterday about where writers find ideas. In fact, her post gave me the idea for this post. It made me think about where I get my ideas for poems, stories, and freelance articles. I think it’s possible to finetune your instincts for recognizing story ideas. Practice listening to the inner voice, the feeling in your chest when you hear something that pings your consciousness and tells you that you’ve found something you need to write about.

In case it helps, I’m sharing some of my ideas and how I found them.

Poem, “Bird Man.” This idea came from an encounter with an elderly man in the bread aisle at the grocery store. Read more

Ideas that grow on trees

One of the questions most asked of writers is, “Where do you get your ideas?” It’s a question that stumps us sometimes because the answer seems so obvious.  As creative types, we’ve trained ourselves to find ideas everywhere we look.

Recently, I was at a poetry reading where I tried an experiment. As I listened to the three poets read, I jotted down any words or phrases that struck me or grabbed my interest. Here are a few from my list: an old vocabulary, etymology, smuggling the universe, the safety of seduction, mouths pucker, cornucopia. 

I’d been having difficulty with the ending of a poem but at the reading, I had an inspiration of how to fix it. Now, I think the poem is one of my best. Read more