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.

Thank Your Readers

Dear Reader,

If you find elegance, or anything of value in the following tale, it will be something you brought in with you. No need to be kind, this story is like an overfed Canada goose lumbering along, unable to get enough lift to fly, deciding to lump through winter, taking handouts from nature loving city dwellers. Thank you for reading and bringing something of value to an old, fat goose.

I remember books in which the writer addresses the reader, like a narrator taking them along through the story. I don’t know (or remember) the literary name for this. For whatever reason the above Dear Reader was in my brain as I woke up this morning.

What would you write to your own Reader? What style or tone works for you?

The Ultimate No-Bake Cupcake Challenge

No baking involved, unless you can’t resist trying. Create the cupcake of your dreams. The chocolate, vanilla, caramel or whatever flavour you like. The cake itself delicious, light and yet perfect. Then decorate it. There is the clash with reality. As much as I like looking at all that icing, the idea of eating it is a bit of a sugar shock. Still, there are no calories in any cupcake of my imagining. I found this one (image below) and it is pretty close to my ultimate cupcake. I can only assume it would taste as good as it looks.

Of course, the best thing about imagining a perfect cupcake is thinking of something else and changing your mind completely. Maybe a perfect chocolate cake instead… (see the other image below). Source: Chocolate Flower Cupcake – Cupcakes Gallery

ChocolateModelingDaisyCake_1 ChocolateModelingDaisyCake_2

 

Photos via thechocolateaddict.com

Role Shaming Dice

Maybe you’ve never tried a role play game like Dungeons and Dragons so you don’t know anything about multi-sided dice (except as a rumour). But, I have played and felt the gamer angst of bad dice. If you can’t blame the dice, what can you blame? They don’t mind – you just get an even lower/ higher roll at the next most inconvenient time.

Examples of role playing dice shaming follow (found on Facebook). What would you write to shame the dice? Any game, if you don’t play roleplay with dice.

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What if you Could go Back in Time…?

What if you could go back in time?

What if, one day, when you were a grown-up, you went back to your old home and climbed the ladder into your parents’ attic?

And, way in back, in a dim corner, barely illuminated by the flashlight in your hand, there was a box, a trunk, a large, dusty wooden trunk, with a lock that used a skeleton key?

So you contemplate whether or not to open it, to turn the key and open the lock, carefully, because you don’t know what might be in there, and the attic was a place that you seldom entered when you were a kid, not only because it was hard to get to, but because it was a cold and dark and drafty and scary place, and only the grown-ups were allowed in there.

Still, you want to know what is in the trunk.

Because you know it contains memories.

It is filled with the kind of memories that generations more than a hundred years ago could never have: photographs.

Not only photographs, but the negatives, too, a treasure-trove of memories.

But whose memories?

And when they join you in the present, are they the ghosts that you once thought haunted the attic?

Source: Ghosts – Darrell Noakes

Have you seen rephotography before? I’ve seen it done several times but have yet to try it myself.

Write About an Earring

earringI like those long, dangly chandelier earrings. My brain has a small obsession with the way they move, sparkle and hang from the ear lobe. It’s a bit weird, but that’s how it is.

I can picture in my mind an earring and how it flips as she moves her head. How it brushes over the fabric of her jacket. I can see the sparkle of the gems and gold. Once in awhile it catches on the fabric and pulls at her ear, just a tiny bit.

Can you write about an earring? Don’t give it a storyline where finding the earring leads to solving the crime, etc. Make the earring the star, the focus and the entire story. Describe the earring and the scene, the action of the story. How much can you get from just one earring?

Source for the earrings: Aliexpress.

earrings