What Do You Recommend?

A Pen In Each Hand

By Baker

  1. Recommend on social media at least one thing you’ve read this year. If you don’t use social media, recommend in person. Independent authors are particularly grateful for recommendations.
  2. Create some recommendation business cards and leave them with your favorite works in the bookstore. You can print them at home. They could be as simple as the word “recommended” with a thumbs-up or a shelf card that lists why you recommend the book. Don’t put stickers on or in the books.
  3. Ask for recommendations at a used book store and/or independent bookstore. If you’re lucky, your local chain bookstore will have fellow book lovers who are well-versed enough to recommend as well.
  4. Recommend a book to a friend on Goodreads.
  5. While you’re there, write a recommendation of a book. If you’re stuck for one, think of a book you discovered on your own and write the review as though you’re speaking to your younger self.
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Mashup

A Pen In Each Hand

By Beaver

  1. Pull any four novels off your shelves.
  2. Flip through the first book randomly. Write down the first name you see. This will be your main character‘s name. Repeat at least one more time (so you have a minimum of two characters) but as many times as you like. (Remember you’ll have to incorporate them into your story, though, so don’t get too carried away.)
  3. Open the second book randomly. The first place name or description you see (e.g. London, bedroom, mountains) will be your primary setting.
  4. Flip through the third book randomly. Write down the first five events you see. These will form the backbone of your plot.
  5. Open the fourth book randomly. Base the theme of your story on the first emotion you see (envy, fear, guilt, grief, happiness, jealousy, love, pride, shame, trust, etc.).
  6. Make the story your own by using your own style to combine these elements.

 

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Mix & Match

A Pen In Each Hand

By Beaver

  1. Go to random.org and use the Random Calendar Date Generator to pick five dates between January 2002 and the present (leave the Sunday box unchecked).
  2. Go to the Calendar and find the prompts that fell on the dates generated in step one.
  3. Use all 5 prompts in the same story.

Example (5 random dates and their corresponding prompts):

  1. February 5, 2002: Write about a surprise meeting.
  2. July 2, 2003: Write about a remedy.
  3. April 30, 2004: Write about magic.
  4. February 16, 2008: They had a way of walking together.
  5. December 23, 2015: “He lied about being a scientist!”
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A Creative Go-To

A Pen In Each Hand

By Harpspeed

I remember on one occasion back in my undergrad days in a creative writing classroom I was expected to complete a writing exercise on the spot. I felt tired from a long day already spent at my day job and overwhelmed—being at my lowest creative moment of the day. Regardless, I had to write something. So while my peers were scratching and tapping away in their notebooks and keyboards, I was zeroing on a single topic along with some describing words, and whatever literary mechanisms my tired brain could muster up.

In the end, I broke down the assignment from paragraphs and pages to consonants and syllables. I was much like that stereotypical driver driving on empty fumes and magically making it to the gas station before the engine finally conked out for good. In fact, I surprised myself with having wellspring of creativity inspired from my lack of it. Thirty minutes later, I shared a free verse poem about an evening walk with my dog. I borrowed this technique at a similar venue years later. I wrote about the juicy clementine I had consumed minutes before. Success had made free verse my official go-to for creativity-tapping.

So, here’s the thing, if you are ever in creative trouble, don’t get upset or overwhelmed. Instead, think different. Think smaller. Think poetry. You might even consider trying a tanka poem. Here’s the skinny: Tanka poetry originated in Japan and is over 1200 years old. It is similar to haiku poetry but contain more syllables as well as metaphor, personification, and simile. Tanka poems contain five lines. Subjects of tankas include nature, seasons, and emotion.

These are examples I found on the web: [1] [2] [3] [4].

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Draft Zero

A Pen In Each Hand

By Beaver

On paper, write about something you’ve never written about before—something you’ve hesitated to write about, something you’re scared to write about. No self-censoring! When you’re done… Burn it. Tear it up. Run it through a shredder. Tie it to a balloon and set it free. Put it in a bottle and toss it in the ocean. Fold it up and tuck it inside a library book. Leave it in a public place. Stick a stamp on it and mail it to Post Secret.

Now. Open a new document on your computer and begin again.

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(Don’t) Enter

A Pen In Each Hand

By Baker

Writing contests can inspire and motivate you, but stories don’t always turn out as planned. As you work on your story, you might find it breaking through the parameters. Let your story flow naturally.

  1. Enter: Set it aside and try something new if you want to continue to work on something for the contest. If you’re set on entering the contest, don’t get too attached to a single idea until you find something that really works with the parameters. You’ll know it when you find it.
  2. Don’t enter: If you’re inspired, keep working on this piece and try a contest another time. Just because you started a story for a contest doesn’t mean that’s where it has to end up. A finished story is a win regardless of whether it ends up being your contest entry—just make sure you submit it somewhere.
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Writing Inspiration Boards

A Pen In Each Hand

By Baker

  1. Create a “writing” Pinterest board (a.k.a. “pinboard”). Use it for inspiring/funny quotes, links to favorite books or authors, jokes, comics, prompts, worksheets, and articles (like our May 2015 AB).
    1. Instead of Pinterest, try Tumblr or one of the other platforms suggested in the article
  2. Create a Pinterest board for a project you’re working on or one you have an idea for. If the idea is all you have, find an image to represent your idea and work from there. If someone else has previously pinned your image, you’ll get a notice about it when you pin. Follow the links and find further inspiration.
  3. Begin to create a character by imagining her pinboard and making it. What do her pins say about her? What do her pins reveal that she doesn’t want people to know? What does she try to say with the things that she pins? Make notes right in the description of the pin.
  4. Pinterest prompt: in the search bar, type something you ate or drank as part of last night’s meal. Click on the name of the pinner of the first result; doing that will take you to the pinboard where you can find the pin. From that pinboard, click on the board owner to see her other boards. Use her board titles as a basis to create a character, story, or poem. If there aren’t enough boards to work with, go back to the recipe results and try a different pinner.

Stephanie’s Writing Pinboard

 

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Find the Right Social Media for You

A Pen In Each Hand

By Billiard

In “Negotiating Social Media for Writers,” we asked Jim C. Hines, Mary Robinette Kowal and Kameron Hurley their advice to writers regarding their internet/social media presence, and this is what they said:

JCH: Be yourself. Have fun. Don’t try to do everything, because you’ll burn yourself out fast. Figure out what you’re comfortable with and do that.

MRK: Don’t stress about it too hard. The social in social media means that you really should be engaging in ways that are comfortable to you. Anything that you have to work at, or hate doing, is going to show as a lack of sincerity. And at the end of the day, your job is to write. So do that first.

KH: Do what you love. Avoid the stuff you don’t like doing. But know the difference between “I don’t like this” and “this is too hard to learn.” Sometimes, if you take the time to learn a new platform, you’ll end up liking it, but you don’t know if you don’t try.

Experiment with various social media platforms and find one or two that you’re comfortable with. It’s easy to tell when someone views social media as a chore so focus your attention on platforms you enjoy using. Many allow you to cross-post so you can maintain a presence at places you aren’t active.

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A Book in Two Hands

A Pen In Each Hand

By Harpspeed

When I was ten or eleven years old I had a doctor’s appointment at Children’s Hospital in Boston and while waiting in the big lobby inside the main entrance to the building, I spied several of my Little Golden Books on a shelf. I knew they were mine because when I opened their covers, I found my name in my mother’s beautiful looping script with the date of receipt and the occasion for the gift. I remember looking around at the other children and seeing what I believed to be my copy of Goldilocks in the hands of a little girl and feeling a little awed of my mother and happy at the same time to see something that I had loved bring joy to someone else.

Why not give such a book that no longer has a shelf life in your home to someone who will appreciate it? The life of a book will increase if every reader considers the next reader. Early spring, I sort through my own books that are ready for their second or third or fourth life and keep them ready-to-go at a moment’s notice.

Photo credit: henry.../Flickr (CC-by-nc-nd)

Photo credit: henry…/Flickr (CC-by-nc-nd)

Here are some general places in frequent need:

  1. Shelters
  2. Hospitals
  3. Schools and child care facilities
  4. Library book sales
  5. Senior centers
  6. Armed services (soldiers home & abroad)
  7. Prisons
  8. Charities—big and small—that will use or re-sell or re-distribute books abroad to those who have lost their books or have none.

Places to sell them:

  1. Your local used bookstore (if you can find one!)
  2. Over the Internet to specific buyers looking for your copy in places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble used book markets, eBay, and Craigslist.
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