Ways to fuel creativity when you have no idea how to get started.
How on earth do I get started writing a book? I can hardly make it through writing a letter. Is there something special that I have to do to get the words in my head out on paper or on screen?
Here are six ways to fuel your creativity.
Create a morning routine. Everyone who is an early morning person generally has a routine that they like to use. For myself, it is coffee first, then work out, then writing time. But I admit that is not perhaps the best method for anyone else. Maybe you don’t drink coffee, or maybe you don’t exercise. That’s totally fine. Just remember that writing is something that SHOULD be a part of your morning routine, and be sure to include it. And don’t forget the power of free-writing. Give fuel to your writing day by sitting down and tapping the keys. See what happens!
Exercise. For me, getting on the treadmill and going to the gym are both a part of my life. Regular exercise helps me to mentally escape from the world and get into the realm of my characters. I can write entire scenes while listening to quiet music and moving. The added energy it gives me helps to keep me in the writing chair longer, also. Exercise is the fuel that keeps a body in motion.
Don’t read. I know it sounds counter-productive, but going on a reading diet really helps me to solidify story ideas. When I am actively involved in books (I read more than one at a time) I just do not feel like my ideas are there in full force the way they are when I am not engaged with someone else’s writing. I take a break from reading other people’s work in order to hear the voices in my head clearly and know they are not just a rehash of the book I am reading. Nothing fuels my writing life like hearing my characters telling me what to write!
Get really quiet. I find a lot of inspiration in solitude. I can sit on a park bench and listen to the wind, the birds, and other nature sound, and create vividly. Finding solitude and harnessing its power has been the backdrop for meditation lovers everywhere. No, it is not necessary. No, you can meditate anywhere. But it seems to help elevate the creative spirit inside when you can find a few moments to just breathe in and out and enjoy being alive and able to create. Writing fuel is stoked when we can relax and enjoy our art.
Find inspiration in others. Every week I meet with other authors in a face-to-face setting. We discuss our writing trials and successes, our marketing efforts and what has worked or bombed, and we enjoy sharing ideas, supporting each other, and being with someone who understands this crazy writing life. I highly recommend meeting with other authors in a real world setting, not just online. My group, Linda, Kimberley, Kristi, Robin, and Angela, are some of the best writers I know, and just being allowed to be involved with them fuels my writing in a big way.
Never say no. When you are cranking out your ideas, there is nothing that is taboo. You can write about anything you want to, even if it sounds a little crazy. To squelch your creative spirit in the beginning by saying no to an idea is just soul-crushing. Don’t do it. Nothing takes fuel OUT of my writing like saying no to an idea that comes up.
I know there are many more ways to get your writing fueled, but I hope these six ways will at least get you started!
Recently, someone told me that they noticed that every time they opened their browser, it seemed like, I was there. They wanted to know how on earth I got it all done, and became such a household name. I smiled and told them it was a secret. Well, being a brand is a different animal.
Well, it is. Because I don’t know HOW I got to be so popular! But I have a goodly list of ways and things to try that might benefit you.
Keeping it real, I never believed I would become popular in this space, especially with WGP– a podcast in the “how to write/writer life” niche, which as you probably know is terribly overdone.
A successful blog is not just a blog. Right enough, it’s the place where things get first notice. It’s where ability is considered and content is offered. But if you stick to just that one thing, you’ll be just that – and only that.
Your website and blog is your hub, your home base where people can go to find out more about who you are and what you do. It’s the starting point for people to find more about the great whole of your brand.
7 Ways to Build a Brand
Be everywhere. This is hard, folks. I am not going to lie. You will spend as much time online as offline at least in the beginning. I have been on forums, social media, and writing sites for nearly ten years. But, it is paying off. You cannot say, “I do not have enough time for all that”. If you decide early on that you cannot do it, then you have already failed. TRY. JUST TRY.
Keep it consistent. You need to have the same imagery on all those sites that you are on. Build a visual brand as well as a presence. People identify with images these days. They will remember bits of what you say, but always your iconic image.
Step out of your comfort zone and try something new. Podcasting was not something that I just decided one day that I would be good at. It was something that I determined was a good way to capture a different audience. You have to be able to try new stuff and see what works. You may be the next big thing!
It takes less than five minutes to set up social media accounts. Don’t be one of those people who says I don’t want to be on social media. It’s the best way to reach readers. If you decide you do not want to be on social media, you are going to have a very tough go at building your brand.
Guest post! This is a fun and easy way to broaden your outreach. Find other people who are into what you are into and have a blog. Most every one wants new faces and blog posts, offer to be the one for a day on theirs.
Give until it hurts. We are a society of consumers. We want everything we can get and we want it for free. It’s okay to give your audience a lot of stuff. And give it to them for free. Get known as the guy or gal who has so much knowledge and gives it out to readers for nothing. That also is a brand.
Cultivate a fan base who will spread the word. When you over-give, you build a fan base of people who want to help you be a household name. They will share your info, buy your books, and follow you around the net.
My name is linked to a few great sites and my podcast is growing. I would say that my evil plan is working but…you already know that.
Recently, Writer Groupie Podcast had the privilege of interviewing Kathleen Gerard, author of In Transit and The Thing Is. Here is the interview and you can get links to her work below.
THE THING IS (a novel) by Kathleen Gerard
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Here’s a brief synopsis of THE THING IS: Can a woman mired deep in the throes of grief have her heart and soul rallied by a therapy
dog named Prozac who has supernatural wisdom and a canine Mensa IQ?
Meredith Mancuso is depressed. Ever since the death of her fiancé, she has shrunk from the world. Even with her successful writing career, she’s not motivated to work. When her sister, Monica, begs for a favor, Meredith wants nothing more than to say no. But she’s ultimately roped into pet-sitting an orphaned Yorkshire terrier named Prozac.
Blessed with spiritual wisdom and a high IQ, Prozac is an active pet therapy dog. To heal brokenhearted Meredith, he rallies his fan club at Evergreen Gardens, an independent living facility, where he visits each week.
Prozac and the community of resilient older folks challenged by losses of their own propel Meredith, often against her will, back into the land of the living. Meredith learns that most people carry some sort of burden, but it’s still possible to find meaning, purpose, and joy—and sometimes, even love—along the way.
THE THING ISis a perfect read for fans of General Fiction, Contemporary Women’s Fiction, Romance, Romantic Comedy, and Dog and Pet Lovers!
Do you have a specific writing style?
All of the books I’ve published (so far) deal with strong women who are forced to overcome challenges of some kind. Humor and romance also play a part in the stories. My first novel, In Transit, is a suspenseful woman-in-jeopardy story about a female rookie NYPD cop who falls in love with the wrong man.
Cold Comfort is more of a heartwarming-style romance about a workaholic photojournalist who comes face-to-face with an old flame who broke her heart in college.
I experimented a bit with The Thing Is, telling that story from two, very distinct points-of-view—that of a blocked romance writer who has become entrenched in grief after her fiancé dies, and a crafty, sometimes very devious, “Spirit Guide Dog,” who believes his mission is to help the writer learn how to live and love again.
How did you come up with the title?
THE THING IS was inspired by the poem, “The Thing Is” by Ellen Bass. Bass’s poem speaks to how to go on living life when we feel completely heartbroken and riddled with despair. It was apropos to the themes of the story, and I decided to title the novel by the very same name.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I wanted to be a photojournalist—and I pursued that passion throughout childhood, high school and college. I always hoped that one day I would work for the Associated Press (AP) and travel the world taking pictures, including photographing in war zones. But when I realized that my personality was much more methodical and analytical by nature, I reconsidered things. And that was when the writing bug suddenly bit me.
Who is your favorite character in your books and why?
I select all of my characters–even the “bad guys”–with care, so I like them all. However, writing from a clever dog’s point-of-view in THE THING IS was very fun—and liberating.
Who designed the cover?
My publisher, Red Adept Publishing, has a great staff on board for all facets of their books from editing to book covers to marketing. The very talented Jessica Anderegg worked with Streetlight Graphics (they’re wonderful!) to make a gem of a book cover for THE THING IS
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The hardest part about writing this book was staying the course and letting the story unravel on its own—without preconceiving the plot. Once I figured out who the characters were and their goals (I wrote and wrote and threw out a lot), the story evolved very organically. When I make a concerted effort to stick to and follow through with the writing of a book, I always try to keep my heart, soul and mind open to whatever crosses my path during the process. I’ve found that if I stay attuned and pay attention to things as they happen in my real life, then, more often than not, my writing life becomes the beneficiary of that attentiveness. For example, a friend (or even a stranger) may off-handedly make a remark, or I’ll read an article in the newspaper, or maybe even a postcard advertisement will arrive in the mail…the mundane can suddenly become an aha! moment—something that unexpectedly serves the story. But trusting that process–and being patient–is sometimes very difficult.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Read a lot. Write a lot. And stick to it!
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Read. Hang out with my dog. I like to cook and enjoy watching cooking shows on TV. And when I want to unwind, I like to watch indie films and romantic comedies.
What do you think makes a good story?
Strong characters. Conflict and transcendence.
Quick fire questions: Favorite food: Pizza Favorite music: Lately, music by Sara Bareillis Favorite TV program: Cooking shows with Lidia Bastianich Five things you like: My dog. Pizza. Red wine. Cooking (and eating). A good story. Five things you dislike: Illness. Mean-spirited/cruel people. Phoniness/Gossip. Dieting. Traffic. Five words that describe you: Sensitive. Spiritual. Loyal. Analytical. Tenacious.
Just a quick update for you guys to let you know that Writer Groupie Podcast is experiencing the usual slowdown that happens in summer time. WE ARE STILL HERE! But our shows might be a little sporadic as everyone gets that summer time vacation in. If you want to get on the podcast, please visit our Booking Page – and let us know. We are interested in booking writers, publishers, book cover artists, and other industry pros – if you think you might have something to share, contact us.
We would love to get a lot of new followers/fans/subscribers. The reason is purely selfish. We have plans to GROW WGP! There are great NEW segments coming on the show, including a sort of groupie corner where your writing guru, (me!), will discuss aspects of the writing life that you may need help with. We are going to get busy with a newsletter soon also, so you can subscribe to that and be in on the latest news first!
We will also examine a lot of things about the writing world, and writing news, so – please fan, follow, like, subscribe, to our channels and sites to be sure you are in on the latest and greatest in the writing universe. You can find links to our Youtube channel and iTunes site at the end of every podcast blog post. I will begin adding that info on my intros on the podcast as well.
While I am busily lining up guests for next month, I hope you enjoy this redux of a blog post from my author site. If you like it, part two is linked at the bottom. New podcasts are coming!
Most people are trying to figure out how to stand out in this really oversaturated book industry. Well, today I hope to help in that regard. In fact this may be a bit of a series of posts depending on how well I manage my time.
First off, in order to stand out in this aspect, you have to plan to work and work your plan.
Here are a few tips on how to accomplish this:
Call it a business. It is. You are now published-your time is no longer your own. You have to work this lifestyle. IT IS A BUSINESS. Get used to hearing that.
Do something daily for your writing business. Create a production schedule. Plan on when you are going to have books published. Put it into writing and make it a habit to follow the schedule. If you were sitting in a corporate office somewhere you would be looking at a schedule of work to be accomplished and you wouldn’t question whether you could do it or not, or wanted to do it or not, etc. For your business, even more so. Treat it as such.
Market. Go out into the wide world web and tell someone somewhere about your book. Do this every day. EVERY DAY. Note: this does not mean to spam people. Just try to tell three places your book is available once a day. Do SOMETHING in the way of marketing EVERY DAY.
Write more books. Spend the bulk of your free time writing something new. Even if you only put in a page or two a day. This is critical because in reality, the best way to stand out in this crowded marketplace is a numbers game. Those with a lot of books will be found easier than those with one or two.
Okay, I did run out of time. I will be back later with another tidbit on how to stand out/market your work. >>>>>>>>> GO TO PART TWO HERE <<<<<<<<<<
Self-published authors know that the biggest row to hoe ahead of them is marketing their book. The writing is hard, the editing is harder, but the marketing of that book is certainly the hardest of them all when it comes to this self-publishing journey. I know. I have been there. But I also have a few tips for you to maybe give you food for thought.
First, some people might just want to know what marketing your book MEANS. In my honest opinion, it’s just telling folks about your book. It’s getting the word out.
Secondly, some people want to know if it is a “have-to-do” item. YES! I mean a THOUSAND times yes. You must get out there and put that book in front of people. You cannot sit down and do nothing. Of course, when you DO sit down, you better be working the ropes.
So what does a writer do to market their book?
This list is not complete by any stretch, and is in no certain order other than what appeals to me. If you think of more things, please leave a comment.
The Top 5 Marketing Tips For Your Book
Get it on radio shows such as Blogtalk Radio, or a podcast such as Writer Groupie. There are a lot of podcasts out there these days/
Strategize your book launch to make it work for you. There are a LOT of book bloggers out there who do nothing but host book tours. And of course, social media plays a role.
Meet other writers and network. Never scoff at the role that going to writer’s cons plays. You never know who you will meet at a con, be it agent, editor, cover artist, or another writer. They can and oftentimes do send you off on a new leg of the writing journey, and can be great places to get marketing tips.
The old standby is, of course, social media. There has been so much said about this subject that I am a little tired of hearing about it. Suffice it to say, you should be on Facebook. Twitter, and Pinterest. ‘Nuff said.
Along with writer’s cons are live book signing events. These are such fun and really make you feel like a published author. There is nothing like meeting readers face-to-face and telling them about your book. You might even get a chance to speak there in the capacity of a writing authority (yes, like me!) and so there are great opportunities at live events to market your book.
And just because I just thought of it … the last thing I can say about marketing a book is the easiest for a writer to do.
WRITE THE NEXT BOOK
It cannot be said enough that readers are pretty voracious these days. If you want to make that first book sell, then write another one. And another and … well, you get the picture.
HELPFUL TIP: Please remember that this stuff takes time also, plan your book marketing strategy way in advance. Like months – weeks – but not days before your book comes out. The reason being most podcasts, book blogs, etc. are booked in advance.
To be fruitful as a writer, you have to read a lot of books. Today’s book industry is so definitive it creates certain expectations and if you don’t meet them, readers won’t buy. I am currently writing mysteries and I want to entertain my potential readers by giving them what they want in these types of books.
Some of my favorite mystery writers include Cleo Coyle, Anne George, and the fast-paced and fun Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. My own novel, Disk of Death, is more like Speed meets Shrek. Just kidding.
The things a reader might want in a mystery novel could be, a high-stakes plot, a great setting, and kick-ass characters. I love reading good fiction that takes me away from my norm. If you write a mystery that keeps me guessing all the way to the end, you will have me as a reader for life.
What are some other things you like in a book? What else keeps you turning pages? What do you like to read?
Writer Groupie will be back next Tuesday with an interview with Eliza Gale, interviewer of writers, artists, and actors. You don’t want to miss it!
So, you can’t quit your job just yet to pursue that writing career? You are just not ready to let go of that bit of security? Don’t worry, you are in good company. That’s why I am posting today. Well, aside from the fact that I am still hoarse!
You don’t have to quit your job to start writing books and making money from them. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend it. You can do so many things these days, and keep the job at the same time. If you discover after an attempt at writing books that it isn’t for you (and it’s not for everyone!) then you can easily stop and go back to your normal routine with little or no setbacks.
Over on my blog, Kim Smith, Author which you should read religiously, I share many of the same ideas. If you do your due diligence, make smart choices, and not get in a hurry – you will ultimately be much wealthier as an author. This is how I started selling books, all while I was still working 8 to 5.
Where To Find the Extra Time
You wake up early, go to work on time, and come home late. How the heck are you supposed to find time to write a book? If you’re single, maybe you can spare a couple hours each night to work on your manuscript, if your social life will wait. If you’re married or have children, finding even a glimmer of free time can be near unthinkable.
Five ways to find time
Notice Your Free Time.
Even though you work long days, you do have some free time. There are times like your morning drive. Use that podcase or voice recorder on your phone to dictate the book and type it in later. On your morning break, or your lunch break, on your afternoon break, or on your drive home, your time at the gym, and some of the free time you have at home (after the kids are in bed), you might find an extra 2 to 4 hours in there to write. TRY IT!
Compound your Activities.
We often don’t realize how to best use our time. Make use of those moments when you are not able to type a book out by listening to educational podcasts. There are a bunch out there. They will help you to understand how to publish and market once the book is done. That will motivate you to DO the writing. This is what I do as I work my job.
Stop Watching So Much Television.
If you stopped watching television, you’d free an extra 750 hours a year! Imagine what you could do in 750 hours. Now, I’m not saying you should quit watching T.V. forever, but you have to admit, you probably watch a lot of television. I did. I tried really hard to cut down and I stuck with just my few favorite shows (The Big Bang Theory, I admit). I used my extra time to read, learn, and do. That’s why I have about 11 things published.
DON’T Combine Your Day Job With Your Book Writing Life.
If the rules at your 9 to 5 job include: don’t use the Internet for anything non-business related, know that your book writing efforts do not count as a business related item. If you can use your breaks to surf the net at your leisure, go ahead and use that time to do some research or read some articles – but don’t use any supplies or print anything related to your writing. IT can and often does monitor the network and yes, the boss is watching, and you will get caught. It could cost you your job, or a least a lot of explanation and time. Just be smart and use your common sense.
DO Combine Your Day Job With Your Writing. Wait – what? Let me explain. What I mean here is to think about how writing a book can relate to your 9 to 5 job. Think about the things you do at work. Is there something that could be improved with your knowledge? Could you use your writing talents at your job?
I am sure there are a bunch of other things…but I am out of time. We will have a wonderful podcast guest next week!
You can rev up your writing ability with some simple writing tweaks. Your inner muse needs exercise to stay in shape — but writing sprints don’t need to be tiresome. They can be quick and exhilarating as you see how much you can turn out in a short period of time.
These muse-tweakers should be practiced without self-critique, interior limitations, or worries about what someone else might think about your writing. The purpose is to allow your creativity the freedom to relax and create. You don’t have to show this piece to anyone if you don’t want to, it will be just for YOU!
Try a different tweaker every week to see what moves your imagination and awakens your inner muse.
1. Write about your desk/writing table.
Simply write a paragraph or two about your writing spot. You can write in first person (the “I am” point of view), or write in third person, where you describe what you see as the narrator.
2. Tell a story from your recollection.
This is my fav to do when I am short on ideas. I will just sit down and start writing something about my own life experience and voila! I am off and running.
Have you ever gone through a dry spell as a writer? Some call it writer’s block, and recently a friend of mine called it being “out of sync” – but whatever the name, we do sometimes hit the bottom of the proverbial barrel with our creativity.
This oftentimes is a good way to get started when we are just not in the mood. If we sit down and tool around the WIP, usually we will dive back in. Start out editing the last thing you wrote. Read what you have written out loud. It will give you the idea/feeling you had when last you wrote and start the idea treadmill. And it is OKAY to write something that we know that we will delete later. The idea is just to get STARTED.
Take a break
You cannot always follow that strict routine that you have been keeping. Sometimes our bodies undergo periods of rebellion. We need to stretch, eat, and sleep. If you have been writing thousands of words for days on end, you will burn out sometimes. It’s okay to take a break.
Here is a little list of things you can do to use that time away from writing creatively.
1. Play games. Board games, card games, or video games. The change in using your brain for a different problem-solving skill can help freshen the other side, that writing brain.
2. Read. It is a proven fact that when we read good books, books that we enjoy and value, we get inspired to write. Or maybe you get inspired from reading really badly written books? (grin) Either way, reading is good for dry spells.
3. Draw. There is a very good reason why the adult coloring books are so popular. We can release creativity in a new and fun way. And it gives us a chance to focus on something else and let our mind come up with new ideas.
4. Watch movies. This one usually always does it for me. Something about relaxing with a good meal, some popcorn, and a movie releases my tensed mind muscles and I can imagine again.
Once the ideas are flowing once again, you can pick back up and write like you always have. Resume that production schedule, fly across the plains on your writing horse.
Do you have other suggestions for breaking a block?