How to use Daily Writersâ€™ Fix
Look up. Right now, from where you’re sitting. From where your character was in the last moment before you stopped your previous writing session. From where you imagine he will be when you begin today’s plotting.
Take your antagonist on a trip. What does he feel as he showers, using the hotel’s shampoo that smells like his childhood garden?
Train yourself to see the ordinary as momentous today. Look at this empty parking space and spend five minutes freewriting. It will undoubtedly feel like a stretch, but go for it and see what you come up with.
Your protagonist wipes his hand across the dashboard, watching as his hand erases the dust. An ordinary moment? Perhaps. But what if it weren’t?
Go to your refrigerator and pull out something you haven’t tasted in a while, such as a jar of pickled vegetables or a condiment. Describe the flavor in detail, so that someone who hasn’t eated it before will know exactly what it tastes like.
Each day this week, go outside. Even if just for a minute or two. Put on a coat–or don’t!–and feel the cold air wrap around you, feel the chill prick your cheeks, and feel fully alive. After your moment, minute, or long walk outside, head in and write without wasting a moment. Repeat each day.
How to use Daily Writersâ€™ Fix
Paint something today–in your mind. Describe the process in words in such a way that will make the reader envision the image start to form on the canvas.
Why won’t your character get rid of the drooping flowers on her mantle?
Take whatever scene or project you’ve been working on lately and spend a little time thinking about what it sounds like. Close your eyes and sit back and place yourself in the scene. What faint hums of traffic or buzzing of bees do you hear that you hadn’t noticed before? What’s the music being played at the cafe your character is walking into? You may or not choose to incorporate these details, but stretch yourself to think a little further into this part of your scene than you had before.
Rain. Dog fur. Enough said. Start writing.
Never underestimate the role of taste in your writing. Even if you’re not a food writer or you’re writing something that seems totally unrelated–take science fiction for example–practice the art of writing about food every once in a while, because you never know when describing an alien’s first taste of a croissant will help make your otherworldly character seem just a bit more relatable. Today, take the flavors shown here–anchovy, garlic, and capers–and make a pretend recipe. What is your character making with these ingredients? How does he go about doing it? What does he–or perhaps his guests–think about the flavors?
With January coming to a close this week, we’re wrapping up a month of Idea Generator posts with a recap of exercises and prompts to get the creative juices flowing. Whether you’ve followed along since the first post a month ago or came in late, these exercises will be helpful to do again and again whenever you’re looking for ideas for what to write about.
We’d love to hear some of the ideas you’ve come up with–and read the resulting stories! Always feel free to leave a comment or drop us an e-mail–we love hearing from you. And in the meantime, keep checking back each weekday for more writing inspiration, resources, and perspectives on the writing life!
Idea Generator #1: What you want to learn more about
Idea Generator #2: Drawing inspiration from your life
Idea Generator #3: Your topics of interest
Idea Generator #4: Do something you love to do
When it comes to unleashing creative power as a writer, sometimes branching out and trying a new genre or even a different form of art or a completely separate activity can get the ball rolling. As real as writer’s block can feel, we believe that there is always a way out of a writing rut. Sometimes it just takes tricking the brain into forgetting that it’s feeling stuck.
Today’s Idea Generator will be a real treat–both for your inner writer and for your overall self. In fact, you might even feel guilty at first about not being productive, even though you really are.
What do you love to do? Think about things that you truly take joy in–playing your favorite Chopin waltz on the piano, painting a still life, baking an elaborate cake, taking a long and leisurely stroll, birding, nature photography, practicing your golf swing, etc. Now, narrow that list down to five, and do one of them each day this week through Friday. Whatever you’re doing, keep a small notebook and a pen accessible for jotting down ideas that might come to you, but otherwise try to focus on the activity at hand. Notice the whole experience of engaging in that activity–from the sound of the birds mingling with the hum of highway traffic at the driving center to the way your fingers glide across the keys effortlessly when you let your mind just focus on the music. Run what you’re feeling through each of the five senses and fully enjoy the activity.
As soon as you’re done, spend 10-15 minutes freewriting, starting with how you felt during the activity and then seeing where it goes. Stop while you’re still going strong. Now, with your creative juices flowing, spend five more minutes actively trying to come up with story ideas. They might be related to the activity or to something you wrote while freewriting. Or they might be totally different. Now add your list of ideas to the ones you’ve collected in our previous Idea Generators.
Wow, we’re already two weeks into the new year. Have you gotten used to writing 2013 yet? January is the month of getting your writing life in good shape for the coming year, and we are here to help. If you’ve been utilizing our Idea Generator in the past couple of weeks, by now you have a large pool of writing ideas–possibly even more than you know what to do with. This week we’re going to stretch that list of ideas even further.
Today, gather your ideas from the first two Idea Generators (here and here). Read through them all and see what kind of patterns emerge–what categories do they fall into? For example, do you notice that many of your ideas are related to gardening or food, parenting, or nutrition? Group your ideas into categories. That’s it for today–you’ll use this list in the coming days this week.
Starting tomorrow, divide your list of ideas between the remaining days of this workweek–if you have four categories, focus on one each day of this week. If you have eight categories, you’ll focus on two each day. For each category, spend ten minutes brainstorming the topic, jotting down as many additional angles and ideas as you can come up with. Don’t think too hard about whether they’re good ideas or whether you might be able to place them anywhere; the focus right now training your brain to think creatively without restraint. Think of it as freewriting ideas.
By Friday, you will have a master list of ideas, organized by topic. Continue your writing session for each day either by working on an existing writing project or by writing a first draft of one of the ideas on your list.
Whew, we made it. What I’m talking about is keeping our New Year’s writing resolutions. It’s been almost a week since we had to start getting used to writing 2013 instead of 2012, and we’ve had nearly a week to keep the goals we set.
We’ll get back to our normal sensory-based Daily Writer’s Fix format soon, but I want to start the year off by making sure that you have a substantial pool of topics and ideas to pull out whenever you’re wondering what to write about. If you did the exercise in our first Idea Generator every day last week, you already have a great start. And if you use this week’s Idea Generator every day between now and Friday, you’ll have more ideas than you know what to do with (and that’s a good problem to have).
And now… here’s this week’s Idea Generator:
Your life is a treasure chest from which to draw ideas. The trick is identifying things in life as story nuggets. Keep a small notepad with you at all times this week; carry it around the house in your pocket and in the front pocket of your purse or briefcase whenever you leave the house.While you’re going about your day, think about what’s relevant to your life. What issues are you trying to work through? What are some defining characteristics of your lifestyle? What are some new techniques, habits, or solutions you’re trying to work into your life? Whenever you come up with an idea, write it down in your notepad right away, along with any notes or visions you might have for a story angle. Don’t worry about developing the story right now; just write down what comes to mind you’ll have a good springboard when it’s time to get writing. Challenge yourself to come up with at least five of these each day between now and Friday. If you do, you’ll have at least 25 story ideas or topics by the end of the week!
Happy New Year! One of the things we love most about starting a new year is a fresh opportunity to determine goals and settle into new routines and positive habits–especially related to writing. We’ll be talking a lot in January about how to set–and keep–writing goals and get the new year off to a good start. But in order to write, you need ideas, right? One aspiring freelance writer asked me recently how I come up with ideas. That got me thinking about creating a Nooks & Cranberries “Idea Generator.” That’s one of the new things you’ll be seeing here regularly, and this week’s edition of Daily Writer’s Fix seems like a great place to introduce it.
And with that, here is this week’s Idea Generator:
Make a list of things you’d like to learn more about. Examples could be include how to fall asleep more quickly, good nutrition for kids on the go, how to bridge the marriage or kids gap with single friends, or anything. List as many things as you can think about. Divide your list into five little lists–one for each day of this workweek. Each day, take your mini list of topics and develop each one into a series of article ideas. For example, how to fall asleep more quickly could lead to the following articles: 10 ways to clear your end for a good night of sleep, relaxation techniques for bedtime, bedtime rituals for the whole family, the sleep “diet”: how to eat well for sweet dreams, expert advice on how to fall asleep and stay asleep, etc. You get the idea. Think in terms of headlines, if that helps.
If you do this each day this week, by Friday you’ll have a large pool of potential ideas just waiting to be developed! Further refinement is necessary, but that comes with time as you start delving into a particular topic when preparing the query letter. In the meantime, you’ll start the new year with no excuses for having nothing to write about!
Merry Christmas Eve! This week, in lieu of our usual daily writing prompts and inspiration, we’d like to encourage you to do something a little different. This week, dedicate your writing time–at least as much of it as possible–to blessing and encouraging others. Drop a handwritten letter in the mail to a good friend who lives in another state. Write a love letter to your spouse. List all the wonderful and endearing attributes you can think of about your child in a letter they’ll love reading for years to come. Try to do something like that every day. Who knows, by the end of the week you might just have a new habit you’ll want to keep in the new year!