Clear Your Head Before Writing?

CaptureI flushed this as a spam comment because it was on an old post which had nothing at all to do with the question asked in the comment. But, just before I clicked the magic button… I cut the actual question so I could paste it in here. See below:

I was interested to know how you center yourself and clear your head before writing. I’ve had a tough time clearing my thoughts in getting my thoughts out. I truly do take pleasure in writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are lost simply just trying to figure out how to begin.

I don’t centre myself before I begin to write anything. That would not work for me at all. If I am at peace, confident and comfortable I’d never get anywhere.

Writing has to have some discontent behind it. You can be right pissed off or just mildly bothered, but there has to be some disturbance in your force to get your words started.

If I write when I am content I will think too much. I’ll think about what a loser I am in many assorted ways. I knock myself down, run over myself a few times and then think someone else would be a much smarter choice to write about whatever I was set to write about. A writer full of self-confidence is probably the world’s biggest fraud.

Instead it is all of us who feel like frauds even as we put the pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard. That’s just the way it needs to be. A content writer who really believes he or she is great will not be someone with human empathy and failings.

So, no, right from the start, getting centred is just not the way to go.

I try to trick myself into writing. That works.

Start writing before you’re ready, before you have a plan or know how you want to start. Just start.

Later you can muck around and perfect it. Don’t perfect the life out of it though. Don’t get lost in perfecting it and lose track of your deadline and the actual point of getting it done and letting it go.

If you are one of those writers who feels confident and content (bless you) put a tack on your chair, something to at least make you uncomfortable enough to write something.

Quotes for Writers from Seven Steps on the Writer’s Path 2

They can’t yank a novelist like they can a pitcher. A novelist has to go the full nine, even if it kills him. – Ernest Hemingway

The perfect journey is circular – the joy of departure and the joy of return. – Dino Basili

The medals don’t mean anything and the glory doesn’t last. It’s all about your happiness. The rewards are going to come, but my happiness is just loving the sport and having fun performing. – Jackie Joyner-Kersee

Nothing is work unless you’d rather be doing something else. – George Halas

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Mini Interview with A Slip of a Girl

Writers who work at home like to be comfortable, yet pretty rather than sloppy.  So I decided to ask lingerie blogger, A Slip Of A Girl, “What would be nice, comfortable lingerie for working in front of the computer?”

Laura, I think my blogging name and blog name, A Slip Of A Girl, rather gives it away — I love wearing slips!

I primarily do most of my writing at night, while the whole house is asleep, and while I’ve nothing against the stereotype of bloggers sitting in front of their computers wearing their pajamas (and I certainly do wear slips to sleep in!), I find that full-slips have other advantages.

First, even if you opt not to wear a bra beneath them, full-slips offer breast support. This is quite practical, especially for the larger-busted among us. Sitting for long periods of time can be difficult enough, so why add poor breast support to the problem?

Second, there’s nothing quite like the feel of vintage nylon. It’s slinky, sexy, and most often is adorned with lace. Together the nylon and lace make me feel pretty. And it’s rather hard to remain in a funk or even writer’s block for long when you feel pretty!

Third, full-slips are very inexpensive. Even the vintage ones, which I so love, can be found in new or nearly new conditions so inexpensively at thrift stores that these lingerie pieces can be called “cheap.” Which means you can run out and get yourself one — or a dozen giggle — and not spend much money at all. Plus, nylon slips are very easy to care for. Nylon is incredibly stain resistant (coffee, tea, and wine just rolls off), and the fabric launders very well. You can even let slips drip-dry and save on your energy bill.

However, if you ladies work from home primarily during the daytime hours when someone could pop by or knock on the door at any time, and being spotted in your slip would prove too embarrassing, there are less revealing options. Loungewear — the true loungewear, vintage pieces which one often entertained in, are beautiful, comfortable, and modest in terms of coverage. If that look seems too glamorous, there are adorable cami sets out now which are cute, comfy, and presentable for company too. Of course, such attire could continue to perpetuate those thoughts others have that what you do “isn’t work”. heavy sigh But I opt to rise above those inaccurate thoughts and focus more on my comfort and maintaining the inspiration to blog.

Cubing to Combat Writer’s Block

From PR Builder: Strategies to Combat Writer’s Block

1. Cubing

In this strategy, a topic or idea is examined from six distinct viewpoints—hence the name.

• Describe the topic (what is it?);
• Compare it (what is it like or unlike?);
• Associate it (what does it make you think of?);
• Analyze it (what constituent parts is it made of?);
• Apply it (how can it be used?), and argue for and/or against it (how can you support or oppose it?).

Cubing was developed as a critical-thinking exercise to help students express their thoughts in opinion essays, but it can be adapted for general nonfiction writing, though it is of limited value for fiction.

A similar technique is to explore three perspectives: The first is to describe the topic and its features, its constituent parts, and its challenges, and to compare and contrast it with other topics. The second is to trace the history of the topic and the influences on it throughout that history, and the topic’s evolution. The third is to map the topic to similar contemporary topics as well as to its influences, and to topics that it influences.

Planning Your Ideas Ahead

Day 11 of #SITS31DBBB (The Secret to Success Is Support – 31 Days to Build a Better Blog) – I’m many days behind the schedule but trying to catch up anyway.

Today we’re going to do an exercise that has really helped me hurdle over one of the biggest barriers that most bloggers face – the challenge of finding new ideas to write about.

Key Concepts:

· Mind mapping taps into what you’ve recently written on your blog and helps you to identify ways to extend those ideas.

· On at least a monthly basis, spend a few minutes brainstorming ways that several previous posts can be extended. These ideas are logical next steps for readers wanting to explore this topic, some of them based upon actual questions from readers.

· Be as creative and outside-the-box as you want. Any idea is allowed at this point.

· In the end, though, be ruthless in culling ideas that add nothing to your blog.

· Keep an “ideas” document to keep track.

· Here is a list of mind mapping applications you can try.

Keeping ideas is a great plan. If you post every day (as I do and have done for other sites) you can hit a dry spell or be busy or just not be in the mood to work on any ideas. Any content you have written ahead is soon used up and you either have to get yourself to work on something new or take a break/ hiatus. Taking a break is one way to handle it. But, if you have a list of ideas to fall back on and give yourself some fresh inspiration you may work your way right through the blah of writer’s block or any other reason for a dry spell.

First, know your topic, your niche. Know what you are writing about, the theme, the general idea. You need some guidelines to keep you on track and give you a starting place.

Second, do your research. Find out what your readers want to know about when they come to your site. It’s really easy to build a list of topics to write about if you know what they are.

Third, go over what you have written about already. Watch for any gaps. What have you missed? Look at other sites in your niche, see if they are writing about a topic you’ve missed. Or, give further exploration to a topic you wrote about before. Add new thoughts and information and then link to your old post too.

Good luck. Most of all, have fun with it. Amaze yourself with how many ideas you get once the ideas start to flow.

Ideas, Experiences and Knowledge

Where do you get your ideas?

There are endless sources for ideas. It’s only when you have a dry spell that the next idea seems like mirage in the desert. Avoid a dry spell with some planning ahead. Build an oasis of ideas you can always come back to, pack them away like an idea bank.

Most of your ideas will come from yourself, your experiences, reactions and feelings. So expand your experiences, think of things you haven’t done yet, things you would like to learn and know more about. Go to sources of experience like museums where you can see displays of things you have only read of in books. You may not want to be a demolition driver but you can go to a demolition race and see it first hand, talk to people, wipe mud off your jacket. Seek out new experiences, you never know what you will find along the way.

Keep your mind open as well as your five senses. Don’t be someone who walks with their face looking down at their feet. There is so much you miss when you keep your world so narrow and small. Some little thing could inspire you in new ways. A hundred people can pass by a weed poking up through the sidewalk or bird’s nest on the ground, or a million other things. But, most people don’t actually look at any of it. The smallest things can give you ideas and inspiration if you let your creative mind see them and add them to the data base of ideas, thoughts and knowledge already in your head.

Read. That’s simple enough. A writer should also make notes about what they read. I even clip out articles and make my own hand written notes on them. If you find something at the library or the bookstore scribble yourself some notes or get a copy of it. A photocopy works at the library but at the bookstore you either have to write a note or snap a photo so you can read it later. (Maybe taking a photo isn’t entirely ethical, but if I use the information I do give my source. I just can’t afford to buy every book or magazine that catches my imagination). Keep your notes, clipped articles and other media in a Writing Folder and try to keep it organized by niche, topic or genre.

Most of this isn’t new information. However, it doesn’t hurt to remember to do all you can do.  No writer needs to have writer’s block or run dry of ideas if they keep working on a flow of ideas, experiences and knowledge.

Liquid Inspiration in a Mug

Although this is not a foodie or recipe blog, there comes a time when good things of the edible kind must be shared. I was listening to Laura Calder‘s French Food at Home today. One of the recipes she prepared was hot chocolate made with milk, honey and cocoa powder. I know it will be yummy. I am going to make it when I get more milk, I have the honey and cocoa powder.

Camille’s Chocolate Chaud
1 heaping spoonful high-quality cocoa powder
1 heaping spoonful honey
1 cup milk

Put the cocoa powder in a mug. Heat the honey and milk until very hot. Pour the slightest amount onto the chocolate powder and stir to make a paste. Now add a little more and temper it into the milk. Pour the chocolate milk into the mug.

Next time you need to work your way through a writer’s block check your cupboards for the ingredients and make yourself some smooth, chocolate inspiration in a mug.

Research Away Writer’s Block

From Gary Bencivenga’s Marketing Bullets:

I learned that good copywriters get to know so much about the product and the prospect and his or her wants, fears, assumptions, and lingo that the copy soon wants to burst forth as if a dam is breaking. I learned that research is the infallible cure for writer’s block.

Having something to say is the best way to start writing. If you do the research to give yourself all the background information you would soon have a lot to say about all you have found even if you thought you had very little to say when you started. This works for any kind of writing, interviews and fiction writing included.

With fiction writing you could give yourself a whole storyboard as your research. Create the plot, the people and the actions that string them together.