Idea Brainstorming in List Format

I make grocery lists. I write them long hand, sometimes I even use cursive writing. I like still having something to write. A time when I don’t type away at the keyboard. I miss writing long hand. But, I get writer’s cramp far sooner than I ever did before word processing evolved.

I write other lists too. Often I think they are silly and useless lists of ideas. Most of the time I don’t look at them again. I don’t really need to because I have so many ongoing lists of ideas I am never short of a fresh list. Even if I don’t use my lists in a productive way, they are fun to write. They do lead to new ideas and connections. So, even if you make dozens of lists, the brainstorming process is still worthwhile.

Start in one place, one idea and see where you end up.

From CopyBlogger, November Content Excellence Challenge prompt:

This is her suggestion on how to very quickly brainstorm dozens of ideas about topics you’re genuinely passionate about. I’ll use her words to describe the process, which I’ll bet you can knock out this afternoon:

“… list out 10–20 ideas or topics you vehemently disagree with in your market. Then, list out 5–10 aspects or features of your product or service that you’re incredibly passionate about. Finally, list out 5–10 misconceptions your potential customers make and how your offer turns them around.

“You now have a huge list of things you can speak or write enthusiastically about. Try creating emails, blog posts, podcast episodes, or videos from this list. Try speaking to local groups about something on the list. Try bringing up list items in your next sales call.”

– Tara Gentile, Creative Live

Visualize Where you Want to Go

Do you have a clear idea of where you want to go? I can’t say I do. Sure, I have some general idea of my happy ending. Well, not even that because I’m not planning the end part of ending.

Without going that far, I don’t really have a set plan of how I want things to be by next week, or next month, or next year. I do plan. I just don’t plan on a timeline.

Some people may find this long distance planning a good thing. It just frustrates me. There are too many things I can’t predict, or be sure of. Trying to visualize ahead (more than a few hours) just falls apart.

I’m a road trip planner. I know where I intend to go along the way so I can map out a route, just don’t ask me when I will get to each destination. There will be stops along the way. There will be extra time spent in one place and less in others. I don’t want to promise to meet anyone at a set place or time, because that will change it from a road trip into a chore.

So, I can visualize where I want to go. I can’t visualize what the world around me will look like when I get there.

Without drama or self-flagellation? That just doesn’t happen for me. Chances are, that is the reason this exercise isn’t helping me.

It comes from Robert Fritz’s Path of Least Resistance, and in a nutshell, the technique is:

  1. Visualize where you want to go. In other words, what will the world around you look like when you’ve achieved what you want? Get extremely clear on this.
  2. Notice where you are now. What does the world look like as it is today? Get extremely clear on this.
  3. Without a lot of drama or self-flagellation, notice the specific differences.

The point here is not to beat yourself up about all the ways in which you don’t live up to your dreams. The point is simply to get very clear on where you are, and where you want to be.

The next step is just to figure out … what the next step is. What action, large or small, would move you in the right direction?

You can keep cycling through these steps — today, tomorrow, or quite literally for the rest of your life. Each cycle “pivots” you in a small way in the right direction. Over time, small pivots, with forward movement, add up to major changes.

From Copyblogger.

Play with your Words When you Write

Do you play with your words when you write?

Writing nonfiction can become dry, there is the expectation that your words are limited, without excess. Fiction writing is where you can think about how words fit together, how they sound when read, various meanings and ways to describe emotions, actions, etc. Fiction writers get to play with language readers may need a dictionary to find. Nonfiction writers are supposed to make sense, be easily read and come to a point.

I don’t entirely agree with that idea of nonfiction writing.

Beyond wiggling around with facts and swaying opinions, nonfiction writers can play with their words too.

Try a new word.

Look for words you often use and change them for a new word. Find a new synonym for an old word. There are lots of sites to look at, or try the local library.

Take out a word.

Eliminate a connecting word you often use and see if everything works, in spite of it. A good word to try is ‘that’. I watch for it myself. It is over used and doesn’t always need to be used at all. My last sentence has a few extra words. Take a look at it, edit it and then read your new version. Do the extra words make a difference, or are they just extra words?

Play with sound.

Some words have a crisp sound. They can be sharp and clear. Short words work well this way. Where do you put your short words? Move words around in a sentence and then read each version out loud. Change it around until you have a sentence that reads well, when spoken.

Play with sound patterns, like poetry. Turn an ordinary sentence into a haiku. Turn another sentence into a limerick, rewrite it so the pattern works even though the words are not a limerick.

Playing with your words helps avoid burnout because you go back to what you like about writing – the writing itself. Plus, it becomes about and for yourself, not just what will please your readers.

Writers who spend all their time “creating content” run the risk of burnout … and extreme creative boredom.

The bonus prompt: to sharpen your skills and perfect your craft, schedule some time to play with words
Screenwriting, playwriting, fiction, and poetry are all delicious ways to play with language, sound, and meaning…

From Copyblogger.

Values

I’ve given myself this Copyblogger Challenge. The warm up for the year of challenges is to write about your values. I’m not in the mood to tackle something less than concrete right now. I feel frustrated, over burdened, and stuck in place. It’s my values which are in part to blame.

Values don’t always make you feel good. They can be too much to live up to. But, the ideals still matter so we just keep on trying. Once in awhile things catch up, in a good way. Then you can take a breath, feel you have done well by yourself, and … what? Self satisfaction is about it. If you go looking for, or expect gratitude from others, you’re likely to be disappointed. People may be grateful but tend not to express it, or not express it in the way you wanted.

Values have to be a thing you do for yourself, because that’s how you want to live.

  • Honesty
  • Integrity
  • Loyalty
  • Courtesy
  • Exploring
  • Creating
  • Ingenuity

The list could get longer, but that’s enough today.

Courtesy can be the hardest value to stick with. It sounds simple. Being polite to others. Thinking of others. Putting others first, in moderation. There’s the tricky part, moderation, and deciding where that line is. Where does courtesy and putting others first cross the lines between selfishness and self-sacrifice? It’s a personal choice, more likely based on feelings than facts.

Start the challenge (it began in January so this is a late start in November) yourself.

From the Copyblogger Content Excellence Challenge:

The exercise is to write out a list of 5–10 values that matter to you. Keep this list somewhere handy, and look it over from time to time.

You might write about:

  • What the value means to you
  • A quick memory or story
  • Frustrations with the value
  • Mixed feelings about the value

This writing is just for you, so write about what’s real, not what you think you should write.

A Flower in 55 Words

Write your favourite flower into a 55 word flash fiction story. Aim for exactly 55 words, not one more, or less. If you don’t have a favourite flower, or can’t pick just one, use the flower for the month of your birth or the flower for your province (Ontario is the trillium).

Happy Weather

It’s raining here today. Not a real rain I could admire from the window. Just a half-hearted rain I wish would become a little bossier in the atmosphere. I love a really good rain. What kind of weather makes you feel good?

The Most Precious Thing… Journals

In the end, we loaded our technology (computers, hard drives with all the historical pictures on them), my old Smith Corona typewriter (yes-crazy!) and we stood holding what we decided were the most precious things… our cottage journals.
We began our first journal on our first day as we moved in to this place. Our kids’ friends wrote enthusiastic missives about how beautiful everything was. Our kids wrote about their feelings, capturing with words what their hearts were beating. “Powered down. Closed up. Fits perfect.”
The words of our son as he did his first final closing at age 18.
The journals number four now and have chronicled friendships, community losses, high points, low points, activities, picnics, first fingerprints of grandchildren, celebrations, achievements, jobs, retirements, comings and goings, weddings, funerals. Our life is there.
We carried the four journals to the boat. The most precious.
We were lucky, and so many of us felt lucky as the water bombing planes extinguished the fire and summer students were planted in the forest to seek out hot spots for a week afterwards.
We felt so lucky.
And so grateful. The journals are back on the bookshelf,  fuller still after the summer of 2016.
I’ve thought about what I’d save in case of fire too. Likely everyone has at some point. I also think about my old diaries/ journals. I haven’t looked at most of them since the day I wrote the entry. At one point, moving from one place to another (again and again), I was at the point of throwing them all out. Journals are a link to our past selves. Sometimes a burden but irreplaceable too. I deleted an online journal I kept while I was going through a divorce. I don’t remember why I deleted it then. I’ve tried to get it back a couple of times but never found anything that worked. Gone forever, irreplaceable.

How Honest is your Review?

I don’t especially like writing reviews. They are tricky. I don’t like to be negative or critical, it makes me feel petty. But, a review needs honesty – otherwise it isn’t worth much at all.

Amazon’s lawyers are willing to go after anyone making money from writing reviews, no matter how small that “business” may be. In earlier lawsuits, Amazon targeted businesses that were selling packages of dozens or even hundreds of fake reviews. Fiverr is a site where people offer to do small jobs for $5 or more (hence the site’s name). Judging by the nature of the accused Fiverr ads, these mini-Internet scams are about as small-time as they come.

“Unfortunately, a very small minority of sellers and manufacturers tries to gain unfair competitive advantage for their products,” write Amazon lawyers. “One such method is creating false, misleading, and inauthentic customer reviews. While small in number, these reviews can significantly undermine the trust that consumers… place in Amazon, which in turn tarnishes Amazon’s brand.”

“Amazon is bringing this action to protect its customers from this misconduct, by stopping defendants and uprooting the ecosystem in which they participate,” the complaint concludes.

Source: Amazon sues 1,114 reviewers, some selling their opinions for $5 | Ars Technica

Write a fake, glowing review for something. Pick something in front of you right now: coffee mug, pen, batteries, skin cream, computer mouse, vitamins, etc.