12 Ways to Kick-Start Your Writing

If there’s one thing new writers love, it’s articles about getting their reluctant/fearful/who-the-hell knows selves to actually write. Charlotte Rains Dixon, doyenne of writer-advisors, offers her take on how we can all kick ourselves in the pants:

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by Charlotte Rains Dixon (wordstrumpet.com)

We are writers.

And writers write.  No matter what, we write.  No matter if the world seems like it is going crazy or if we’re going nuts within, our job is to write. To pour it all out on the page.  To be chroniclers and bear witness.

And yet.

Sometimes this writing, this flinging words at the page, is beyond us.  And no matter how hard we want to do it, we just don’t seem to be able to.  The words won’t come.  We can’t drag ourselves to the page.  We sit at the computer and stare off into space.

But here’s the conundrum: when you’re a writer, the only thing that makes you feel better–the only thing that makes you feel like yourself again–is to write.  So when you’re not writing, you feel even worse.  Oh, it’s a vicious, mean cycle, I tell you.  And the only way out is to get started writing again.

So, herewith, I present you with 12 ideas to kick-start your writing.  The only thing you have to do is experiment with them and see which one works for you.  Promise me you’ll do that next time you’re stalled and not just sit pretending to write when you’re really playing Spider Solitaire.  Because one of these ideas will lead you back home again.

1.  Switch it up.  Write by hand if you’re used to doing drafts on the computer, or vice versa.  Every time I get stalled on my novel, I switch to writing in a spiral notebook, et voila, the words flow once again.  It’s magical.

2.  Choose a random word from the dictionary.  Combine it with another word or use it as a one-word prompt.  It works great if it’s a word you don’t know because then your mind can go in any direction it wants.

3.   Use a sentence box.  This takes a bit of advance preparation.  Cut apart old manuscripts into sentences and put them in a bag or a box, then draw one when you get stuck and use it as a prompt.  You can also do this with words and draw several, then string them together.

4.  Pick a prompt.  The key with prompts is to pick one, any one, without thought or emotional investment.  And then just write like crazy.  Don’t try to stick to the topic of the prompt, just write and see where you end up.  I’ve got tons of prompts on this page.

5.  Use the first line of a favorite poem as a prompt.

6.  Use the last line of your WIP as a prompt.

7.  Re-read your recent work.  If this doesn’t get you back in the flow, go over notes you’ve taken.  Look through notebooks you’ve compiled about the work.  Maybe something will strike you in a new way.

8.  Read a book on writing.  Often I don’t finish reading writing books because I get so many ideas from them I go to the page and never get back to the book.

9.  Draw a card for guidance.  You can use a Tarot deck or one of the gazillion types of guidance decks from various authors.  I once went to a psychic who used a regular old deck of cards.  Have no idea what she saw in them, but the reading was fantastic!

10. Create a ritual.  Light a candle, put on some soothing music, drink a glass of water–whatever works for you.

11.  Cut out images to inspire you.  I describe this in more details in my free Ebook, Jumpstart Your Book With a Vision Board, which you can download to the right.

12.  Doodle to get your mind going.  I’m a doodler.  I doodle when I listen to lectures or in meetings.  It doesn’t mean I’m not paying attention–to the contrary, it keeps me anchored in the moment.  Lately I’ve been reading about the positive effects of doodling, and I think it’s beneficial for writing, too.

Those are some of the ideas that work for me.  How about you?  Do you have any sure-fire kick-starters that you rely on to get you going again?  Leave a comment and share.

Childhood Fantasies vs. Adult Fantasies

Our thanks to Zach Weiner. (Wonder if his fantasies include appearing here on TVWriter™?)

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This could be too true to contemplate. We’ll take childhood any time.

Good-Bye to a TV Great

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What with all the excitement about the end of a the old year and beginning of the new one, with its tumult and hope and celebration, we forgot to post this announcement last week, when it happened.

It’s TVWriter™’s sad duty to report the death of one of the greatest creators of genre material in TV, the UK’s Gerry Anderson, at the age of 83. Anderson’s creation include THUNDERBIRDS, SPACE: 1999, SUPERCAR, CAPTAIN SCARLET AND THE MYSTERONS, UFO, FIREBALL XL5, STINGRAY, and even more science fiction series (all, sadly, before our time, but we’ve certainly loved the compilations).

Anderson suffered from Alzheimer’s in his last years, but fans remembered him long after he’d forgotten himself. To us, STINGRAY was the epitome of cool, a puppet show with exciting effects done in what Anderson called “Supermarionation.” God, what a great word to coin. We sure hope he remembered that one!

Our condolences to Anderson’s survivors. And to the world.

Peer Production: BLINK TO THE FUTURE

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DOCTOR WHO! BACK TO THE FUTURE! Together again for the first time.

Just ask the Doctor: Mash-ups are cool. A tip of the TVWriter™ hat to creator/animator James Farr for setting the web animation bar for 2013:

You liked it, didn’t you? So it’s worth your while to find out more about James Farr.

The Most Overused Words of 2012

What’s that? 2012 is over, you say? Move on, you demand?

Okay, okay, we will. But first these important, um, words:

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by Mark Nichol (DailyWritingTips.Com)

Words are sometimes randomly reincarnated to serve new purposes, and usually, the new usage is anything but offensive, and its connection may even be obscure: Does anyone object to the use of the word plane (meaning, basically, “surface”) to describe aircraft? Often, however, the extension of a term to a new connotation invites contempt. Here’s a rundown of some of the online commentary about new senses of words that have worn out their welcome.

The business blog Quartz published an article about “the most misused word in 2012”: disrupt, which in the commercial world is used in the context of companies that suddenly and dramatically alter their focus or product(s); other tiresome Wall Street jargon includes the similar pivot as well as innovation, which almost invariably refers to strategies that are anything but innovative — but the word, presumably, still catches the eye of investors and customers.

LinkedIn recently listed the top ten words and phrases people use on the networking site to describe themselves to potential employers and clients:Creativeorganizational, and effective have remained in the top three positions for two years in a row, followed this year by motivated, “extensive experience,” “track record,” innovativeresponsibleanalytical, and “problem solving.” (How, then, does one market oneself without resorting to such overused terms? Describe how you are creative, organizational, and effective rather than simply typing the words.)

Similarly, the Shift Communications PR Agency published a graphic displaying the supposedly substantive words most prevalent in press releases. Trailing global, the clear leader, were forwardleadinginternationalgrowth, and “well positioned.”

Every year, Lake Superior State University invites nominations for inclusion on its Banished Words List: This year’s roster includes amazingblowback(“resistance or usually negative reaction to an action or a proposal”), andginormous (a portmanteau word derived from gigantic and enormous). Among the phrases on the list are “baby bump” (“visual evidence of pregnancy”), “man cave” (a female-free — except for the bikini babes on the beer posters — refuge for the man of the house, especially when he’s in the doghouse), and “thank(ing) you in advance,” widely considered a discourteous courtesy in a business email or letter.

The Atlantic Monthly’s online version, Atlantic Wire, offers “An A-to-Z Guide to 2012’s Worst Words”, which includes disrupt and “baby bump” but also derides the use in technological contexts of curate (which is just a fancy way to say “link”) and ecosystem (referring collectively to similar digital devices or formats). Meanwhile, epic, used as an adjective to describe a supposedly remarkable experience or phenomenon, is among a slew of pop-culture terms singled out for retirement.

And then, of course, there’s fail — used as a noun to describe a botched effort — which is itself now frequently deemed a failure.