Posts

The Ideas Store

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  This must be the single most fascinating issue amongst new writers - and non-writers alike. Throughout their careers, authors are consistently asked the same question: Where  do you get your ideas from? As though there is some secret locked store-room full of them, hidden away, and that only the best writers are mysteriously given the key. If you're one of those people that has apparent trouble coming up with  ideas, let me reassure you right away. You already hold the key to the  'idea store'. Just like any other writer or creative person, the ideas are inside your head - and all you need is an easy way to tap into them. Something I'm just about to give you. You may not be conscious of it now but your subconscious is a swirling mass of ideas just waiting for your attention. The problem for most long term writers is not 'Where do I get ideas?' but  'Which one of the thousands I have am I going to work on next?' The  dilemma then becomes 'When am

The Universe and Everything

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  Scientists studying nature are getting increasingly good at working out how things work. From the Big Bang Theory to DNA. From the evolution of species to how chocolate can make us happy. We now have a pretty good idea how life works from the smallest chemical action to the largest atomic reaction. It seems as though one day we will know how everything in our Universe works... but there is one crucial element missing. The why. We know that sunlight makes plants photosynthesize carbon dioxide into oxygen. We know that when an electrical spark is applied to gasoline it explodes. We know that when water boils it turns to steam. We know these things and a host of others because we can prove them - every time. But do we know why they happen? Scientists say that these reactions are 'coded' into the makeup of the elements. That these reactions are inevitable, given the right circumstances. We know that during the Big Bang, for instance, certain elements came toge

What is Writing Style?

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  First off, let's get one thing straight. A lot of people search the term 'writing style' when they're actually looking for 'writing fonts'. I know. I regularly get Google visitors who've typed in 'tattoo writing styles' or 'graffiti writing styles'. Clearly, they're not looking for 'writing style' at all but rather a collection of fonts they can refer to, copy, or learn from. 'Style' is different - more aligned to technique than anything else. There are various official writing styles - but these are more specifically ways of constructing essays or theses rather than referring to what most writers regard as 'ways of writing'. The APA style is set by the American Psychological Association and is basically a way of organizing information for reports and social science documents. Hardly of use to the average creative writer. The MLA style dictated by the Modern Language Association is favored for college essays and

How Many Words Did You Write Today?

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  The author John Braine once said, "A writer is someone who counts words." Do you count the words you write ? You should - because it's a sure fire way of getting around writer's block -and a good way of keeping yourself on track. Having specific word counts to aspire to, will keep you writing more - and for longer.  You'll have more to show for your efforts, more to submit, and consequently more work coming in.  Your writing success is directly correlated to your word count. Last night I was talking to a writer - well, someone who wanted to be a full time writer - and she told me she'd taken a year to get to her manuscript to where it was now.  I asked, casually of course, how many words she'd written so far. "Four thousand," she said.  Four thousand!   G'ah - that's less than eleven words a day - what's she doing, I thought, chiseling them in stone? By stunning contrast, Robyn held the whip to me yesterday (metaphorically speakin

You Get What You Focus On

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It's easy to feel negative. The media is always telling us we're on the brink of economic collapse - or war - or the AI invasion - that it's only a matter of days before the biggest slump since last crash and this one will take away the value of our property, our savings, and our livelihoods. Many would-be writers are tightening their belts, ignoring the call to write in favor of the day job. They're giving up their dreams in droves, convinced that it's all too hard... Uh, did I miss something? Doesn't anyone remember basic economics from school? I thought it was well-known that economic activity goes in seven year cycles - apparently something to do with the sun - and that boom and bust years are natural and inevitable. Smart stock market people know there's never a bad time for investors - there's just alternate opportunities. While some stocks slide, others climb.    When the market is overpriced, it adjusts itself by devaluing. When stocks and intere

How To Write When You Don't Feel Like It

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  One question I get asked all the time is, "How do I write when I'm not inspired or have nothing to say?" Many new writers feel good about what they do and can work on pieces of writing because they are inspired. But many times they are taken aback when the inspiration fades and they are left with the 'task' of simply finishing a story, an article, a book, or a novel. It can be quite alarming to feel like a writer, know your writing is good, but dread picking up where you left off on that manuscript! Rest assured, this is normal. It's not possible to be inspired, excited and even happy writing all of the time. Sometimes the work just has to be done. Here are a few tips on maintaining your enthusiasm for writing. Develop Multiple Projects Diversify your writing portfolio. Be open to new ideas and commit to 'having a go' at different types of writing. Sometimes, when the idea of finishing a large project is too daunting, a

The Hydra Syndrome

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  Have you ever noticed how you, as a writer, see-saw?  For one heady moment you know you're brilliant and then, later, with just as much clarity, you know what you do is awful. It's the writer's curse. I've noticed this happens at certain times in the writing process. When the ideas are fresh and you're starting out on a project, the adrenaline is flowing, the words are spewing on to the page - everything seems so clear, so clever, so you. And then after, when you look back, the words seem dull, the structure contrived and the talent - well, non-existent. But then... later, it can seem smooth and inspired again... and then, even later... dire. Hold up! What's happening here? I call it The Hydra Syndrome or, for short, THS. You may remember that the Hydra was a mythological creature with many heads - and each time one was cut off, another sprouted in its place. And the trouble with being a writer is that we too have many heads. Some are kind and benevolent, some