Productive Ideas That Create Creativity

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ideas (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

No matter what type of creativity you crave, chances are you are always looking for inspiration. In the writing world it has never been easier to share our imagination, ideas and creative thoughts with others through proper use of the internet. It is also tougher as well. With all the distractions life has to offer, and all the others available online, a writer of any level can find themselves far from where they want to be creatively. Below is a short list of tips that may help to get your creative juices flowing, some will help to provide productive distraction that eventually leads you back to the creative world, while others will provide you with a new outlook on your approach to writing.

Productive Ideas To Create Creativity:

  • Write it out. No matter how silly, strange or unstructured, get it on paper so it is not stuck in your head.
  • When inspiration hits, drop everything and indulge.
  • Play with children. They see the world differently and can be a huge source of inspiration.
  • When you are not inspired, don’t write. This is the ideal time to enjoy distractions, who knows maybe they will spark an idea.
  • One small idea can be just as great as 100 big ones.
  • If something is messing up your mojo, move it or lose it entirely. This includes people.
  • Don’t be afraid to take a break. Spending too much time on one task creates stress and leads to less productivity in the long-run.
  • Get up, get out, get moving. Exercise and human interaction are excellent for the creative brain.
  • Make it fun. If you are feeling really blocked make your work into a game. Try naming 100 things that start with B, or that are red. When you make writing fun again your brain is more likely to co-operate.
  • Don’t force an idea. It is better to let an idea enter your mind itself than to try to force it. Forcing the idea too early often leads to frustration and eventually confusion due to over-thinking. Let it simmer, it’ll come.
  • Change the way you write. Sometimes a simple change of style is enough to get you back on track.
  • Seek inspiration in the small things. A short post about anything takes the same level of creativity as a large piece, but less time and sometimes more freedom. Spend time writing small things, even if you never publish them, they can be useful sources in the future and often lead to larger works down the line.
  • Write everything down. If you are a writer you should have a pen and paper (or something of the sort) at all times. As soon as an idea strikes write it down. Be sure to add as many details as possible so you are not looking back at a note later wondering what “One Eyes Pete and the laser of life” means.
  • Share what you have learned with others. Teaching others is a wonderful way to inspire yourself.
  • Update the past. If you are at a loss pick up older pieces and give them a fresh start, or a face lift.
  • Nix the negativity. Whether it is your own self-inflicted negativity or the criticism of others, dwelling on it is not going to get anything done. Lesson number one in life: You will have far more haters than you ever will fans. (So it’s probably best if you are on your own side.)
  • Stop aiming for perfection. The best thing you can do is write it, and get feedback. Don’t try to make it a final draft the first time around, you will end up miserable and overworked, with a wreck of a story that has been hacked to death. Remember the worst that can happen is that it will suck…. Guess what? It can be deleted and re-written!
  • Enjoy yourself. If it’s not enjoyable for you then don’t do it at all.

Until Next Time…

Write On!

Interesting “Holiday-Free” Writing Prompts to Keep Your Pen on the Page

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Life can become hectic during the holiday season and finding the time to write can often be difficult. Writing opportunities are easily lost among the celebrations and chaos that is Christmas. Inspiration can also fade throughout this time of year, last years projects may have come to an end and the majority of writing is spent focused on ‘holiday themed’ pieces. Holiday writing can be fun, creative and profitable, but it can quickly become mundane. (Hence the fact that Christmas is only one day out of the entire year. The novelty of the holiday wears off…quickly!)So to ease off the holiday writing blues and get the New Year off to a good start, I have compiled a list of interesting “holiday-free” writing prompts that are guaranteed to get your creative juices flowing and keep your pen on the page.

Interesting “Holiday-Free” Writing Prompts

  • Next time you are out in public pay close attention to the people around you, (shopping malls at this time of year have one benefit, tons of people, which means tons of inspiration.) choose a stranger and take a moment to study them. After you have created a mental image head home and hit the writing desk. Center a story solely around your chosen target, consider such things as appearance, body language and mannerisms. What do these things tell you about this person, who they are, what they are doing, where they are going, etc. This is a tried and true prompt that you have probably seen, read or used at some point in the past, it is a reliable way to get your creative mind working and can be an excellent source for practicing detail oriented writing. I often create small stories in my head as I run my errands, taking one stranger from each store I visit and creating a life for them in my mind. This simple act has been the foundation for a great number of stories I have written in the past, and has inspired works that would otherwise have never been created.
  • Finish the sentence, “I knew right away that…”
  • Describe an emotion, such as, fear, love or anger in as much detail as possible. Consider all of your senses in your writing and add as much detail as possible without sounding factual or rambling on.
  • Take your favorite song lyrics, or a portion of them, and turn them into a story. Be sure your story is complete with well-rounded characters, conflict, resolution and dialogue.
  • Create a character in your mind, or choose one you have already created in the past, and describe the following things from their point of view; a crowded room, an empty hallway, their home, their job, their partner, their life and their favorite thing to do. Be sure you involve all of the five senses and add descriptive details. This is a great way to build on characters and get to know them on a more personal level, while practicing detailed writing.
  • Consider the thing you hate the most, your biggest pet-peeve. Now, build a character that likes that thing which you despise. This is a great way to train your mind to see things from a different perspective and find the positive in every situation.
  • Describe the homes of the three following people; a teacher, a gangster and a crooked lawyer.
  • Write a story in a first person point of view about Josh or Janet who has been arrested for the first time. Write the same story from the limited third person point of view of the police officer that arrested the character.
  • Visit a local Thrift Store and browse through the items in the shop. Choose an interesting piece of furniture or another item. (you don’t need to purchase the item, you can simply view it and memorize details, or take a picture if you are able) Once you have arrived home recall the item and write its story. Where did it come from? Who was the original owner? What did it do? How did it end up in the Thrift Store? Etc. Be creative and spare no details.
  • Write a paragraph describing your characters hands in as much detail as possible. Try to create an image of your characters life  using only a description of their hands.
  • Choose a word you have never seen before from the dictionary and write a piece centered around that word. Start without knowing its definition and creating your own based on what you ‘think’ the word means, then create a piece based on the true definition of the word. How far off was your assumption?
  • A great prompt for story/poetry writing from Writingforward.com is to write using post-it notes. The prompt reads as follows:  Limit yourself to a few words (for poetry) or just a line or two (for prose). On each Post-it, write a line of dialogue or some basic action (she walked toward the door). You’ll be writing in a tiny space, and that will make you choose your words more carefully, and when you’re done, you can have fun patching all the Post-its together to complete your piece. I think this is a great prompt that forces you to get creative and think about the words you are using.
  • Create an expanded profile from an ad in your local newspapers personals section using the simple details provided, or base a character on one of the entries you find there.
  • Pick up a brochure from a travel agency or a real estate guide and write a piece based on one of the destinations, images or houses. Who lives there? What are they like? What do they do? Etc. This is a great story prompt, poetry prompt or tool for character development.

Feel free to share your results from the prompts above (or a link to them) in the comments section below.
Submissions for ‘Share and Shine Sundays’ are also welcome and can be sent to: perfectlyprompted@live.ca
*Please be sure to mention if you wish to remain anonymous in the post.*

Until Next Time…

Write On!

Get on Track to Productive Writing

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The year-end is fast approaching, and for many this is a remind of the resolutions they made at the stroke of midnight many months ago. For some these resolutions were aimed toward a healthier lifestyle, a happier lifestyle and a more productive lifestyle. For others these resolutions were aimed towards their writing, if you resolved to be a more productive writer this year and have found yourself falling behind, don’t get discouraged, you still have time to get back on track…

Helpful Tips to Get Your Writing Back On Track:

  • Write Every day.
    Being productive in your writing does not need to be difficult, it is more about actually writing than it is about the amount of usable content. Resolve to take 60-90 minutes each day and focus on only your writing. Choose a time when you are relaxed and able to focus distraction free, early morning and late evening seem to be the best times for most writers, but choose a time that works best for you. Perhaps you have free time in the afternoon while the little ones are at school or down for their nap, whatever time you choose use it to focus on your writing and only your writing.
  • Don’t Stop.
    Once you have found the time to devote to writing every day, do it without stopping. Don’t think too much about what it is you are writing, simply write. Don’t allow your mind to stop for at least 30-60 minutes or you run the risk of getting distracted by other responsibilities and losing your train of thought.
  • Don’t Stress.
    Stop worrying about the way you are writing and just write already. It can be hard not to compare yourself to other writers, but remember that there is no writer in the world that doesn’t produce an awful first draft of their writing. (well they might be one or two, but they are freaks of nature and we don’t like them very much at all!) Accepting that your first draft of anything does not need to be perfect should relieve a lot of stress and allow you to focus on getting the words down on paper. Don’t waste time stressing about perfection, just focus on getting your thoughts out of your head where they can be read, edited, re-read and re-edited at a later time. shaping them in to the final piece of art you are wasting time trying to create right now.
  • Write The Way You Talk.
    You will save yourself an ample amount of time if you simply write the way you talk. There is nothing complex about this statement so don’t bother over-thinking it, do as it says and write exactly the way you would talk to your best friend. A large amount of time is wasted trying to get a first draft to sound, or read, just right… This is unimportant at this point, the main focus should simply be getting the content on the page to be edited later, so write the way you talk and you will find that your writing flows more easily and you will produce more usable content.
  • Don’t Give Up.
    Every writer has a bad bout, moments when no matter how hard they try they are unable to really write. If you find yourself facing a major block simply wait it out without giving up. It is important that you still write during these times, even if what you are producing is junk, it is about working through the wall and getting into the next batch of ideas. If you find you are unable to focus on one project, test out some lighter writing. Writing poetry, stories or different forms of writing than you would regularly write can be a great way to beat a block and open up your inner muse. The point is to battle on and never give up on your writing.
Remember, it is never too late to get back on track with your writing. Don’t put yourself down because you have not accomplished your goals, instead make new goals and start towards them without regret.
Until Next Time…
Write On!

Essentials of a Good Scary Story

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October is the month of ghosts, goblins and vampires. It is the season of fear and the home of Halloween, it is also the ideal time of year to read, and write, scary stories.

The history of the horror story dates back to the beginning of time, and modern-day horror stories fly off the shelf as fast as they are printed. Authors like Stephen King, Dean Koontz and even Edgar Allen Poe have turned the art of the horror story into the popular genre it is today.

Writing horror can be rewarding, and interesting work, but there are basic essentials that every horror story should have if it hopes to gather an audience and frighten the reader enough to keep them coming back for more.

The Essentials of a Good Horror Story:

The basics of good horror are not much different from that of any written work. Good characters, good plot and plenty of detail make up a great portion of any story, but there are things that a horror story must contain if it hopes to be successful and the least bit scary.

  1. Suspense – Every good horror story or movie is built upon suspense. It is that ‘what is going to happen next’ or the ‘I know something is going to happen next’ feeling that pushes the reader to continue on. Good suspense can be built in two ways, either with the reader know what it is that is going to happen but not knowing when, or with the reader not knowing what is going to happen or when it is going to occur. The first example is one of the most difficult to achieve as a writer, Stephen King is the master of this form of suspense. King has the amazing ability to take an event and turn it into pages upon pages of suspense, all while keeping the reader hooked on each and every word. Creating good suspense requires practice, but one of the easiest ways to achieve this is to feed your reader only pieces of the story, little bits at a time. This action causes them to read further in the hopes that the puzzle will all fit together in the end. There is no short cut for creating suspense, it is all in the details and it takes time to write. Be patient and prepared to edit often.
  2. Death – Death is a major part of fear in humans and is a major detail in all, scary stories. Death in your writing does not have to be gruesome to create fear, but it has to be realistic. Using death to induce fear in your reader is not a difficult skill to master, it is about leaving blanks of information to be filled in at a later time. It goes hand-in-hand with suspense and all other aspects of horror writing and again, it all takes time.
  3. Realism – No matter the plot of your story it has to have some sort of realism. What was considered scary 10 and 20 years ago is not the same as today. Society has been desensitized to the horror story over the years, ghost, goblins and alien invaders are not considered the doom they once were. Horror stories today have far more realistic plots and min-altering story lines that leave the reader wondering if they could possibly be true. You can still utilize the old favorites of ghosts and vampires, but you need to be sure that you will be able to use them in a new and exciting way. No longer can a writer simply ‘create’ something and claim it to be true, today’s stories must back up their creations with proof if they truly hope to induce fear.
  4. Suggestiveness – This is another element that helps to build upon suspense, to induce fear and write a good horror story you must leave it to the reader’s imagination. Feed your readers only what you must to make the story move, but allow their imaginations to create the rest, right up until you bring on the ‘big twist’ and the shocking end.
  5. Strong and believable characters – As with any other genre, believable characters play a major role in the horror story. Your readers must connect with your characters, they must want them to live, and they must be engrossed in their battle to survive. Also, you must have that character that your readers hate as well, that character that they know is doomed, and they truly don’t care. Be sure that you spend a lot of time on character creation if you are planning on writing a horror story, as with every other element involved, this will take up time but the result is worth it. Horror stories are often character driven, so if you go wrong here you run the risk of ruining the entire story right from the start.

Things to Remember While Writing Horror:

If you want your story to be a success remember the following…
Avoid clichés – Too many scary plots have been played to death, avoid the obvious fearful situations such as, a woman alone in a dark house, the experiment gone bad, the haunted woods, and the Ouija board are just a few. If you have seen it a hundred times, read it a hundred times, or told it around a campfire when you were 12, choose another scenario.
Be Realistic – You can not get away with writing a story these days that is based solely on fantasy, it just won’t fly. Readers want stories that are realistic in at least some sense. Even if your idea is based on fantasy you must have some realistic elements to back it up. Scientific evidence is a major part of today’s top-selling horror novels, it requires a lot of research on the writer’s part, but it also helps make the story more believable and thus more frightening.
Be Aware of the Gore – There is a fine line between gruesome and grotesque, be aware of the gore content in your writing. You want to scare your readers, but not completely gross them out. Keep the gruesome details to only the necessities  and avoid going overboard.
Keep it Organized – It is absolutely imperative that you keep your information organized or you risk losing your reader’s attention. There is a ton of prep-work to be done when writing scary stories, and keeping organized notes can make the whole process a lot easier on you as the writer.
Set the Stage – Both your characters and your setting should help set the stage for your main point of conflict. Right from the start of your story you need to connect the two and create instant suspense.
Remember that God is in the Details – There is nothing more important that good detail to the writing of a horror story. Use descriptive words, explain and describe the surroundings, characters and emotions. Horror relies on the reader being able to visualize the scene in their mind so the more vivid the image the more fearful they will be when the time comes. There is no need to go overboard, but make sure that your readers can see the scene as you do being the writer.
Until Next Time…
Write On!

Amazing Autumn Inspiration

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Fall is the season of change and with all the beautiful colors and the crisp air it is one of the best times to get outdoors.

Being outdoors can be very inspiring, especially with beautiful landscape and amazing autumn colors. Why not take a short walk and use the outdoors for some writing inspiration?

Below are a few Fall Writing Suggestions for you to try out. Feel free to post your results, or your own ideas, in the comments section below.

 

Fall Inspired Writing Prompts

  • Write a story or poem from the point of view of a leaf getting ready to fall from the tree.
  • Write a story about a squirrel getting prepared for the winter weather.
  • Recall a memory from your childhood that has to do with fall. Did you jump in the leaves?
  • How do you feel about raking the lawn? Love it, Hate it or Leaf Blow it all away?
  • Does fall weather inspire you? What do you like/dislike most about this time of year?
  • What is fall like where you live?
  • What is you favorite way to spend a nice fall day with friends/family?
  • Write a haunted Halloween story, poem or other piece.
  • Write about Thanksgiving.
  • Write a story or poem about the colors of fall.
  • Write a post about the best places to visit for fall colors.
Have fun and get inspired, as always comments and suggestions are always welcome. You are welcome to post in the comments section below or submit your inquires to: perfectlyprompted@live.ca
Until Next Time…
Write On!

Quick Tips for Character Creation

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Realistic and lovable characters are a major part of good fiction. Character creation can be one of the most challenging parts of writing, and a lack of in-depth characterization can completely ruin a great plot. Below are a few simple and basic tips to help you create solid characters, with depth and personality, that add to the story-line and help to make your piece as close to perfect as possible.

Quick Tips for Character Creation

  1. Every character in your story needs to have a story themselves, you don’t need to spend hours getting to know your secondary characters but you should have a basic outline for everyone involved in the tale. Make notes of important information such as name, age, job, social status, gender, relationship status, and any other relevant basic personal information. Rule of thumb; know your secondary characters like you know your acquaintances, and your main characters as you know your best friends.
  2. Along with their story each character needs a goal. This goal may be something simple or a large mission to save the world, either way this goal needs to be clear and have purpose behind it.
  3. To tie together the above factors of a story and a goal, your characters need to have a history. Even the simplest of characters has to have a past that somehow connects them to what is happening in the present moment. The characters of a story are often connected through an intricate spiderweb. John may know Sheila through her cousin Paul, who has been murdered by Ben, and John might be Ben’s Uncle. Whatever the case each of your characters has to have at least a slight past and some form of connection to the story that you are writing. They need a reason for being where they are, with who they are, and for what they are doing. The process of creating history takes time and organization, plan carefully and be sure that you fill any holes.
  4. Once you have the basics of each character you need to personalize them. The best way to bring your character to life is to give them real life issues. Habits, compulsions, and obsessions are a great way of making your characters more human. Perhaps your main character is a compulsive hand-washer, a smoker, an alcoholic or is constantly quoting cheesy comedy films, whatever the case they need to have a human habit that others can relate to, something that makes them vulnerable and realistic and life-like.
  5. Build emotion in your character to create empathy and connect them with your readers. Even the most frightening of villains has to have a soft spot, some one needs to be able to connect with what makes this character tick. The deepest emotion a character can express is crying, but they need not actually cry to express this human trait, just showing that there is something that is capable of causing this sentiment is enough to connect them to the real world. Find the one thing that would hurt your character and share it in some way with your readers, this builds trust and creates a connection.
  6. In line with personalizing your character, be sure you create flaws. Flaws are another way of humanizing a fictional character. People are not perfect, and they will not enjoy reading about someone who is. Create some kind of flaw for your main characters to help your readers relate to them. Perhaps they harbor a deep dislike for another character in your story, maybe they lie a lot, swear a lot, or have trouble focusing on what is important. Give your characters some kind of flaw so they are not perfect, unbelievable icons that your readers can not relate to on a personal level.
  7. The last step in character creation is to ensure that you have covered all the bases. Sort out all the details of your characters, especially your main characters, such as personality, appearance, distinctive traits and personal information. You should know your main characters as well as you know yourself. Even if you are not going to use the information as part of the story line, things like zodiac sign, and favorite foods, will help you connect to the characters and create a consistent flow in your writing. Creating characters is a bit like being an actor, you need to get into the role and be a part of who they are. Let your imagination run wild and remember the more information you have the better.

How you create your characters differs with each writer, some writers prefer to outline all characters before they write a single word, where others will set out the basics of their main characters and create the rest along the way. Experiment and find what works best for you. The great thing about writing is that there are really no rules and you have the freedom to be creative. If you are a beginner than character creation may take a bit of time, but with practice it will become easier. Keep in mind how important a solid character is, and think of the time spent creating them as an investment in your story. The process can be tedious but it is worth the effort to have a well-rounded character without any gray areas or unanswered questions. Take your time and be thorough, and most of all have fun. The sky is the limit and you can go wherever your imagination will allow you.

 

Until Next Time…

Write On!

Simple Writing Tips for the Non-Writer

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Great writers sometimes take for granted how difficult writing can actually be. Practice and persistence often make the process easier with time, but for many beginners and non-writers the process of writing can be an overwhelming thing. The simple tips we share about editing your work, using proper paragraphs, and good grammar can be lost on those that don’t a) enjoy writing, and b) write regularly.

There are many different types of readers on this site writers and readers on every level. Today’s Tips and Tricks Tuesday is going to reach out to those of you who may be beginners, or those who don’t choose to write for a living but have to for work, or various other reasons.

Here are some simple tips and tricks to help even non-writer‘s write better:

  • Say it loud – If it is not easily spoken aloud it will not be easily read so ensure that you read everything you write out loud before you publish it anywhere.
  • Learn proper punctuation – Take the time to learn where to use a comma, period and exclamation mark and utilize this knowledge when you write. Commas and periods are an important part of both reading and writing and can easily make or break the flow of your work. Search Google for the basic rules and study them before you start, you need not aim for perfection, but know the basics in the very least.
  • Keep it clear – Using short, to the point sentences is the best way to ensure your writing is easily read. If you can say it with fewer words than do so. The same rule applies to paragraphs.
  • Utilize the spell-check tool – You don’t have to be a world-class spelling bee champion to be a good writer, that is where technology becomes an amazing tool. Locate the spell-check tool in your typing program and run it, twice! There is nothing more annoying than simple spelling errors that could have been avoided by a simple click of the mouse.
  • Keep you vocabulary in check – Using big words that you don’t actually know the true meaning of will not make you appear more intelligent. In fact, in most cases these large, fancy words will make you look dumber than you really are if they are used incorrectly. Stick to words that you are sure you know well, and be fully aware of their context and appropriate usage.
  • Don’t be afraid of grammar – Sure, grammar is important in writing, and you should learn as much grammar as you possibly can, but grammar is not what makes a good writer and should never be the cause of stress. If you are unsure of the proper grammar of a sentence simply aim to make it as clear as you possibly can. Clear writing, and easy reading is far more important that perfect grammar, do what you can and aim to be understood in the end.
  • Get to the point – A major part of good writing is the ability to make your point clear from the get-go. If you are going to force readers to sift through several paragraphs of useless information before they actually discover what it is you are writing about, you are going to lose a lot of readers right away. Clearly stating your point at the beginning of any piece allows readers to decide quickly if what you have written is of any use to them at all, and actually encourages them to read on rather than simply skim through your piece.
  • Aim to write well every time – Practice always makes writing easier, and with time good writing will come if you aim for it. No matter what you are writing, aim to write it well. Emails to friends, family and co-workers should be written with as much care as a published piece. Take time, and put in effort for every single thing you write and you will see your writing quickly improve.
  • Study style – It can not be said enough that reading is a great way to improve your writing. By reading work by good writers you will see what it takes to write well, and you will actually absorb important style tips as you read. Browse blogs, read books, and study papers that are well-written than aim to imitate what you have read.
  • Delete doubt – If you have doubt in your writing, think you are using the wrong words, or are unsure of how well it flows, make it simpler. If something doesn’t feel or sound right, it probably isn’t. Read and re-read your work both out-loud and in your head, several times if you have to. Have others read it if you must. Tweak and change it until it feels perfect for you, and is easily read by others.

Practice and be persistent in your writing. Do your best and never give up. Even if you are not striving to be a professional writer there are simple ways to improve your skills. Writing is a part of everyday life, and in business it can make or break your success. Even the non-writer can be an effective and successful writer if they take the time to learn and have the drive to achieve. The most important part of being a good writer is to be clear in your work and aim to be easily read, anything above and beyond that is simply the icing on the cake that makes a good writer great!

Do you have any tips for non-writers?
What is the most important thing you would share with someone who does not choose to write?
What is the hardest part of writing for you? 
Share you own thoughts, tips, and tricks in the comment section below.

Until Next Time…

Write On! 

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