sheila good

six sure-fire ways to get the creative words flowing

by: Sheila M. Good

We’ve all had days when our minds seem devoid of creative ideas. On many occasions, I’ve accused my muse of abandoning me, going on vacation, or seeking out another more fertile, imaginative mind. The problem wasn’t my muse. The truth was I suffering from writing fatigue and boredom. I needed inspiration to get the creative words flowing again. I couldn’t escape to the cow pasture, like I used to do as a young girl; I had to come up with more appropriate avenues. I came up with six sure-fire ways to get the creative words flowing again and the funny thing about it, everyone of them were right there all along.

1. People Watching : This is my personal favorite and with 313.9 million people (2012 Census) in the United States of all nationalities, imaginations can soar. Any crowded venue will suffice. With a notebook in hand, you can be a mindful observer of human interaction and body language. Let your senses engage, note the setting, atmosphere, and listen to the many conversations, thanks to technology, people share with the world in public places. An astute observer, grab a snippet of conversation; it’s great fodder for a story.

2. Prompts: Write something every day even if it’s rubbish. By doing so you’re developing a habit, honing your craft. An excellent exercise in free writing, gives you 60 seconds to write about the daily word prompt. focuses on character, setting, dialogue, essays, and other prompts from acclaimed authors with the aim to help writers improve. If you need a reminder and accountability, 750 is a wonderful site.

3. Critique: Utilize a critique checklist or outline to break down the first chapter of a favorite author’s novel. Did the opening line and paragraph hook you? What was the inciting event? How did the author portray the setting? How was the main character introduced? Was there depth? Can you picture the main character? And so on. Taking a critical eye to a successful, accomplished author’s work will spark creative thoughts when you turn back to your own.

4. Brainstorm with a writing friend or mentor. Do word associations or bounce ideas off each other. Those of you who are familiar with Scrivener may enjoy the new mind mapping software, Scapple, now available (MACS) Mind mapping is a wonderful tool to help start the flow of creative ideas and once on paper can be used to form a quick outline.

5. READ: A hallmark must-do for every writer. You don’t need to stick to your favorite genre; in fact, I recommend you branch out. You might discover you’re a better writer in another genre. Magazines and newspapers can provide innumerable sparks of inspiration. Sometimes a news story will prompt an emotion or memory and an idea for a story is born.

6. Quiet time and reflection: Whether it’s work, family, or other things demanding our attention, time is, perhaps, our most scarce commodity. Yet, having downtime for our minds to wander playfully through fields of imagination is, for the writer, essential. My friend and writing mentor, Nan Lundeen, author of Moo of Writing: How to Milk Your Potential, writes often of relaxation, meditation, and fresh air facilitating our creative expressions from our mind to the pages, we just have to get out of the way. So take a walk around the block, park, library, sit quietly in a corner café, or find you a cow pasture. According to Nan, they’re Zen masters. Fifteen to thirty minutes a day for creative renewal is a good start. We waste that much time surfing the net.

We all have beautiful, moving, harrowing, breathtaking stories within us if we take time to listen, believe, and give ourselves permission to let our mind and imagination run free. Happy writing.

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