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Welcome To SORMAG's Blog

Friday, October 21, 2005

WORKSHOP - FRESH IDEAS

Hello. My name is Deartra Boone. I have been writing since I was 12 years old. I have some poetry published and an essay published. I am working on a novel or two. I also have edited several books for my father and a couple of other people.

I keep my writing skills sharpened by writing for my website, Always Inspired. http://www.alwaysinspired.info/ .

I am married to my wonderful husband, Herman Boone. He is currently in school getting a degree in electronics. We have been married for a years and two months. We don’t have any children. I am a missionary/minister and I usually work with children and youth.

Hopefully, in this workshop, you will find some ways to help you to come up with new ideas for your writing. All of the ideas given in the workshop are from me. They are methods and techniques that I have been using since I have been writing.

The Workshop Is In The Comments Section (FIRST FIVE COMMENTS)

17 comments:

SORMAG said...

You're a writer, but you haven't had a decent idea in a few months. What do you do?

You're a writer, but you can't seem to write anything, no matter how hard your try. What do you do?

You're a writer, but you have writer's block. What do you do?

In this workshop, I hope to present some ideas that will help you to know what to do. I will do that by presenting you with ideas to get your juices flowing, methods that I have used, and perhaps an assignment or two to do.

What do you do when you can't come with any ideas? A while back, after the company I work for had laid-off one of the best female friends I had, I had writer's block. When I get bogged down or troubled, I try to write my way through it. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't write a thing after my girl had been laid-off. In search of answers, I emailed several lists that I am on and asked, "How do you overcome writer's block?" The overwhelming response was, "Just write." It seemed like a silly answer because I was having trouble writing, so how could I possibly write? One person suggested that I write a letter to my friend telling her how much she meant to me. A few days after I received that suggestion, I thought about what I would say to her in the letter. I never actually wrote the letter, but just thinking about what I wanted to say to her helped me overcome my writer's block.

When you can't think of anything to write, just write. It seems like a strange response to someone who can't write, but it works. Now, I am an example or practical use type of person, so I began to think about ways that people could "JUST WRITE."

I hope what I developed will help you.

SORMAG said...

FRESH IDEAS

ALL ABOUT ME

Write down 5 things that you like about yourself.

Write down 5 positive things about your writing.

*****

This is something that I do at the beginning of every year. I started doing it when I was in college and going through a rough time. It helped me alot.

Each year when I write the new one, I look at the one from the previous year and see what has changed. Put what you write in a place that you will remember where it is.

When you are feeling down or having a rough time, go back and look at what you have written. It may inspire you.


KNOW YOUR SEASON, KNOW YOUR TIME

I think a big issue for writers is when we can't come up with ideas, we get discouraged and down sometimes. This can cause a ripple effect that will truly get a writer down.

You should know your season. I have noticed that I don't do well creatively in the summer. It's hot. I get headaches after being outside that make it hard to think at times, and then on top of all of that, I get braids for the summer, so my head is hurting from that. :) I would get upset because I couldn't write alot from June through August. I would get so mad at myself. From September through March, I am a creative monster, writing things left and right. I have been creative in the Spring, but I have a hard time because I have allergies and I am usually groggy from the medicine.

I realized my writing season.

Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer. Once I realized this, I became a saner writer, if not a better writer.

I no longer get upset with myself for not writing anything in the Summer. It is not my writing season. During the summer, I try to fill my writing file folder up with ideas. If I can't do that, I don't worry about it because I know that the summer is my heard season.

You can also apply this to the day of the week and the time of day. Think about when you are your most creative and try to write as much as you can during that time. During your off-peak time for writing, don't get discouraged.


FOLDERS FOR WRITING

I have a system for writing and organizing my ideas. It is an easy way for me to keep up with my ideas and look up ideas.

I have folders set-up on my USB Jump drive that hold my ideas. I have the following folders:

Characters – I keep character ideas, sketches, and thoughts in this folder.

Places – I keep ideas and thoughts about places I want to write about or visit in this folder.

Story Ideas – I keep ideas for stories in this folder.

Miscellaneous – I keep ideas that don’t fit into any other category in this folder.

Things – I keep ideas and thoughts about things in this folder.

All About Me – I keep my self-esteem exercises in this folder.

When I am inspired with one of the previous mentioned things and don't have time to completely focus on it, I use the NOTEPAD included with Windows and save it for later. Sometimes, I look through the folders when I need inspiration and find something to write about.

You could also use a spiral or a journal for this as well. Going through and looking at some of what you have written can inspire you to write an award winning novel.

There is no set way to write your ideas down. However you write them down is fine. I have files in my folders that just have a name written in it. You can always go back and write something else in it.

A couple of other things I do with the folders is from time to time, I go through and see if I can add anything to the files that I have already. I do exercises where I add things to my files also.

SORMAG said...

SURROUNDINGS

You can be inspired by your surroundings, the people in your life, and the things you see everyday. That's where I get most of my ideas. Below are some methods that I use.

Street Signs

This may seem like a weird way to be inspired, but I am inspired by the names of streets.

Here's how it started. Where I use to live, there was a street that we passed several times a week. The name of the street was Highland Oaks. Every time I saw the street sign, I thought, "That would be a cool name for a football player." One day, I finally wrote down the name of the street and decided to use Highland Oaks as the name of a character. From that day on, I began looking at the names of streets to see what kind of inspiration I would feel.

Pick a street and then an address number and think about what kind of people live at that address. You would be surprise what comes to your mind.

Where I live now, if you go down the street called Mockingbird you will see that the names of the streets are the names of birds. Find a section of streets in your city and see what it inspires you to write.

You can find alot of inspiration from street signs.

Television

Television can be a source of inspiration. Seeing what other people are doing or saying can inspire you. There have been a number of times when I was watching a TV and thought that I would have ended a show differently or had the outcome of a show be different. That has sparked a story or poem from me. Watch TV, I am sure that something will inspire you, fire you up, or rattle your cage enough to get you writing.

Music

Music soothes the savage beast. It also inspires writers. Many writers have touted how listening to a certain type of music that gets their creative juices flowing. There is a song on Karen Clark Sheard's CD Second Chance called "I've been Changed." It something about this song that just gets me in a creative mood, no matter when I listen to it. My hand and brain just wants to write. I call that song, my writing song. I think every writer should have a writing song.

Not only can music get your creativity flowing, it can be a source of story ideas. You can get story ideas from the lyrics of songs.

Weddings, Funerals, and Family Gatherings

Anytime people get together, there is always a chance to come up with a story or two. Pay attention at these types of gatherings. But don't just look for the obvious story ideas. Look for deeper story ideas. Anyone can come up with a story about drunken Uncle Johnny at the family reunion, but it takes a good writer to see how losing her grandmother will affect 18-year old Annie's life because she has lost her best friend.

Although I don't usually go to weddings, I have heard some stories from people who went to weddings. A good source for behind the scenes of a wedding (if it's at a church) is the deacons or people who open up the church for the wedding. My brother has told me stories that had my mouth open.

Church Services

Since I am a Christian writer, I end up writing about stuff I have seen at church. Church can be fun and funny. I am still waiting for someone to write about what really goes on in Children's Church. Another good way to get story ideas is from the sermon. I have gotten ideas from a quote from the pastor or a scripture that was used.

Anyone want to join me and write about 3:00 services? :)

Look Around You

We have a radio host down here that often says, "Look around you see if you are leaving anything," every morning around 7:00. I thought about that and applied it to writing. Look around you. What do you see? Look at your children, your friends, the layout of your apartment, the flowers in the flower bed, the car parked next to yours, and the old lady across the street. You can find ideas and inspirations from them.

Writing Contests

Writing contests are a good way to get inspired. Even if you don't submit your work in the contest, you will still have a good idea.

Idea Blogs/Sites

Find blogs or sites that give ideas, story starters, or sentence starters and write from those. Deatri King-Bey from this list often sends us what is being discussed on her blog, http://deewrites.blogspot.com/ . There are a number of sites/blogs that do this.

Those Word Magnets

I can't think of what they are exactly called. I have a collection of those magnets that have all kinds of words on them. Before I was married, my brother and I had a set of magnetic words on the refrigerator. We would rearrange them all the time trying to see who could come up with the stupidest phrase. Those magnetic words are a good way to come up with story ideas.

SORMAG said...

Read a Book

Read someone else’s work. Something you read might inspire a story idea or character.

Using outside sources for writing ideas is a good why to get your creative juices flowing

REWRITE

Rewrite a story or an article that you have written before. This time, find a new angle that you didn't discuss or write about before. Rewriting a story or an article, may help you to come up with something totally new.

Revise a writing exercise that you have that you thought wasn't good. See what you can do to make it better.

Redo an older idea that you had before. Think about new ways to make it fresh and current to today.

Change is good. I know most of us loathe change, but it can be your friend. Changing the way you write, your writing setting, or your pen can get your creative juices flowing. Here are some things that you might want to change. You don't have to completely change how you do things, but mix it up every now and then. Life is more fun when you flip the script.

CHANGE OF SCENERY

Pick a new place to go and write. If you normally write at home, go to the library or the park. Changing your scenery can inspire new ideas. Being outside in the fresh air will open your senses. Opening your senses is very creatively freeing. Going to the library is great. Sitting in the library with the smell of books is liberating. Changing your scenery is a great way to free your mind.


WRITE SOMETHING DIFFERENT

Try writing something that you don't normally write. If you write novels, try to write a poem. If you write research papers, try writing a novel. You don't have to let anyone read your work, but sometimes just trying something different can get your creative juices flowing.

CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE

Try writing in a different voice. Every now and then, write a short story in the voice of a child. You would be surprised what you come up with. Maybe even try writing like you are your pet.

CHANGE YOUR WRITING MEDIUM

If you normally write with a pencil, write with a pen. If you normally type on a computer, trying handwriting your work.

Making a small change and doing something different can be hard, but it can be fun. The next time you write something, have a little fun with and do something different.

Takes some time off to yourself to get your thoughts together. Think about what you want to write about. Don't write anything yet; just take some time to think about what you want to write. Listen to your heart. Listen to your thoughts. Listen to God. This is a good way to get some new ideas.

I think this is a very important thing to do for every writer. It can be hard to write with all of life's distractions bothering you. By taking some time to yourself to listen to your heart, your thoughts, and God's voice, you will find that you will be inspired to write.


This last group is meant to be fun. I toyed with changing the title, but it fit so perfectly that I couldn't bring myself to change it.

Indulge Your "Strange" Habits

We all have some things and habits that others would consider stupid and strange. Oddly enough, I think that indulging your "strange" habits can be creative.

I like to hand write things sometimes, just to change things up. I can only write on college ruled notebook paper and the lines on the page must be dark blue. It is a particular dark blue, too. The only place that sells is Wal-Mart. Thankfully, it is at Wal-Mart. If I try to write on any other kind of notebook paper, I literally gets writer's block. I mean nothing will come to my mind. Once I get some of the dark blue lined college rule notebook paper, I can write all day. I know it's strange, ain't it.

Indulge these types of things about yourself.

The Make-Up

For some strange reason, when I see brochures for conferences or events, I like to make-up or create a brochure about the same type of conference. I make up the organization that is hosting the conference, the speakers, the classes, and so on. Why I do it, I don't know, but it usually leads to some great ideas.

SORMAG said...

Create a State or City from Your Name

For a computer class project, I made up a state. I just felt like making up the state. Well, making up that state has lead to a whole bunch of other stories and story ideas.

Do something "stupid" every now and then. It doesn't have to make sense. It can be fun. You might even come up with a great story

Rhobin said...

Thank you Deartra.
Your comments alone made me think up several ideas. I also sort everything into files by topic. It occured to me that some of my characters were becoming stereotypes of some of my previous characters. You're advice to 'look around you' came at a very good time.
Rhobin #113

Vanessa A. Johnson said...

Hi LaShaunda,
Some of the things you mentioned, I already do, i.e., allow my surroundings to inspire me, write for contests, etc. One thing that I think helps me to write tighter is to pick a contest where the word limit is much less than you normally write, say a short story, or pick a short story that you've written and then try to revise accordingly to the contests guidelines. It helps me to eliminate unnecessary words in a piece.

Love & Peace,
VeeJay, Badge #121

Dera Williams said...

I believe a writer must give oneself permission to write junk, nonsense, or just what bugged you that day. For the longest time, I had a writing partner and we would write 500 words to each other every day. You would be surprised at what came out of that.

There never was not any material to discuss or any blocks because if you are blessed to get up in the morning, you have something to write about. That daily "blogging" to one person produced a collection of childhood memoirs, essays, commentaries and the impetus for several pieces that were submitted to CFS and some accepted!

Dera Williams
Badge #16

Elaine said...

Deartra, what a wealth of ways to get ideas. Thank you. One of the ways my friends and I get ideas is through our emails. I've lost count of the number of times one of them has said to me, "Keep a copy of that story you told me in your last email, that would make a great article / story" and they've been right.

Elaine (Badge 23)

Shelia said...

I don't think writer's block exitsts anymore after reading this list. My problem has been allowing outside stuff to get in the way of me finishing a writing project. Once I determine that NO MATTER what, I'm going to write the article, story, or novel, nothing can stand in my way.

essence4real said...

What a blessing this was. I was on the phone reading them to my best friend who is also a writer and we had some good discussion about the suggestions.

I think I'll make a state out of my name this week.

LaTara Badge #27

Felecia R. Ellis said...

You've given me a lot to think about. I tend to get writers block when I allow the stress of family life to overwhelm me. I write best when everyone is asleep or away from home like now. You mentioned several things like the writers contest and compiling a list of ideas for future reference that I alread do. I tend to get ideas from either family members or overhearing someone else's conversation. We had an exercise in college (25 yrs ago), where we were asked to ride the city bus and listen to the conversation that took place. We had to give a report on what we heard at the next class. I guess that method just stuck with me.
Felecia #158

Anonymous said...

Deartra, your workshop is informative. Thank you for bringing up new ideas and affirming the "crazy" ones I do to keep writing.

Don't keep us in suspense, tell us what the Deacon saw/heard at the wedding.

Thanks again for taking the time to facilitate this workshop.
Chandra #184

zavi said...

Thanks a cure for writer's block

Barbara said...

Thanks for all the suggestions. It's easy enough to say "just write" to yourself. But you gave given enough suggestions so that my typical response: "Just write what?" can be answered.

I especially appreciate the section about paying attention at family events like weddings, reunions, and birthdays. Sadly, there will come a day when you grandparents', and later, your parents' generations will disappear. Don't let their wonderful stories pass from the earth. Collect them, cherish them, and most importantly write them down. They will be a wonderful source of memories and ideas. You can pass these treasures down to the future.
Barbara (Badge 43)

Deartra D. Boone said...

Well , for one... At one wedding, one of the bridesmaids was squatting down in front of the door of the changing room for the women. When the door was opened, everything that she had could be seen. A deacon happened to be standing in the hallway where the door was opened and he saw the scene. The bridesmaid made no effort to cover herself or run for cover.
Deartra

Deartra D. Boone said...

At another wedding, my brother was walking down the hallway. Also in the hallway was the wedding coordinator. All of a sudden, one of her "girls" popped out. She grabbed it and stuffed it back in her jacket, right in front of my brother. He didn't see her girl, though.
He said that he wanted to pass out right in the hallway when she just walked by him and smiled as if she hadn't just popped one of her "girls" back in right in front of his face.
Deartra (#34)

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