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Posts tagged ‘word riffs’

How to riff your way to more ideas

Earlier, I wrote a post about word riffing—applying the musical technique of riffing to find just the right word. Sometimes, I use this riffing technique to generate ideas for plot, character traits, or anything else I might be stuck on.

Often an idea will grab my attention and I’ll follow it, riffing along to see where it leads me. Riffing is like dominos–one thing leads to another. To really get my brain going, I ask questions such as: What if? What’s next? How does it feel?

This happened recently when a friend was diagnosed with an illness. She told me how the doctor’s words felt like a curse. The idea of words as a curse intrigued me so I started asking myself questions. Below is the poem that was born from my riffing: Read more

Three ways to use word riffs

One of my favorite writer’s tools is to practice word riffs. To me, word riffing is like playing a musical instrument (of course, that’s where the term riffing comes from). I’m learning to play guitar and one of the things I like to do is randomly strum away, making up my own little songs (often sung to my cats and starring their names—they just love that).

First, some tips for word riffing:

  • Make it fun and playful. Don’t make it serious—if the right word doesn’t come this time, know that it will next time.
  • Use a timer and write fast without stopping. This helps keep me focused and to the point. It allows me to go deeper and find more gems. I set my timer for 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Let it all out—first, you have to dump the garbage to make room for the treasures. Think of decluttering your office space. Once you get rid of the clutter, everything seems to flow better, doesn’t it? It’s the same thing with your brain. Write down everything that comes to your mind—the dumb words, the clichés, etc. If you don’t, you’ll just be storing it to come out later.
  • You can use word riffing for a phrase as well as one single word. Though I find focusing on one word at a time easier and more fun! Read more