Monthly Archives: February 2016

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Director's clapper for take three writing prompt

Video Writing Prompt – The Take Three

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Here’s a fun and easy way to fit some quick writing into your day. Check out this super fast (only 1 minute–I am getting faster!) video and follow the directions. Don’t forget you can use this quick tip any time you want and use any words you wish. There are lots of great noun generators out there if you’re feeling lost for words. Here are some I really like: DesiQuintans.com, RandomWordGenerator.com, and randomlists.com.  Now go do the exercise—it’s easy as pie (although not quite as tasty!). Enjoy!

Take Three Video Writing Prompt

 


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mornings for writers

A Morning Routine for Writers

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It’s no secret that highly successful people have specific morning routines they follow meticulously. These activities are performed habitually; they help determine the tone for the rest of the day and set the doer up for success. Highly successful writers fall into this group of dedicated routine-followers. Although each will likely tweak his or her morning according to their particular wants/needs/schedules/lifestyle, many of the most successful methods contain similar elements. Let’s take a look at some characteristics of a ready-for-action morning routine:

alarm clock1. Out of Bed Early

The early bird gets the worm–and the early writer adds more writable minutes to their day! That doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get up early to write (although you certainly can, especially if you have a “real” job to get to and you’re writing in your spare time.) Many suggest 5 AM as a good wakeup time—mine is 5:30. Adjust this time to make it right for you. Some people are night owls and these are not going to be easy to wake at the crack of dawn. Others have scheduling conflicts. The point is, get up earlier than you’d like.

meditate, clear your head2. Clear Your Head

I take a few minutes to meditate and I suggest you do, too. I use a lovely timer app on my phone called Insight that plays a gentle bell sound at whatever interval I choose. You don’t have to sit for an hour —even 5 minutes will help center you and get you ready for your day.

walk to get creative3. Exercise/Start Thinking

Now that you’ve eased yourself into wakefulness, it’s time to get up and go! I usually make myself what I call my “morning drink” (2 cups water, 1 T organic vinegar, juice of 1 lemon, sprinkle of cinnamon, sprinkle of cayenne pepper, a few gratings of fresh ginger, and ice — in case you wanted to know) which primes my stomach for digestion and revs my metabolism. Next, I do some yoga stretches OR go for a walk. Some of you may want a more vigorous workout, but I find that my body just isn’t ready for that much trauma in the morning. If I choose to walk, I listen to personal development or instructional audio that starts my wheels turning and often gives me fresh ideas for each day.

fuel for thought4. Clean Up, Refuel

After a workout, I take a quick shower and then make breakfast. If you haven’t listened to something illuminating while you exercise, now’s the time. You can learn while you shower, cook, and eat! Try to eat something that is a good combination of fats, slow carbs, and protein to fuel your writer’s brain. 

dress for success5. Dress for Success — Even at Home!

I can’t stress this enough. Treat your writing like a real profession and it will be one. Treat it like a hobby and it will stay one! When you get ready to start your day, dress like the professional you are. You don’t have to wear a business suits or heels, but you should look put together. Put socks and shoes on your feet, even though you may be tempted to stay in your slippers. Ditch the sweat pants for jeans or khakis and put a fresh, crisply ironed shirt on. If you’re a woman, accessorize with jewelry or a bright scarf. Apply makeup if you wear it. If you are having trouble being productive, I guarantee you will be amazed at the impact this simple tip will have on your output. Of course, if you work well in your fluffy bunny slippers and bathrobe (and some writers do), please continue!

organized writers desk6. Get Organized

This is a critical step, one that many writers overlook: Make sure your writing space is organized before you sit down to begin your day. It’s much too easy to procrastinate putting finger to keyboard when you have ready-made excuses for delay: I need some water. My feet are cold. Where are my highlighters? Get everything sorted out first; preferably the night before–then sit down to write.

three little things7.  Put Necessities First

Do you remember my post about the “three little things” being the key to a successful writing career? If not, read it here and then come on back. Every evening before your head hits the pillow, write your “three little things” for the following day. These are the things you will get done first. If nothing else in the whole universe gets done, these will! After that, you can tackle tasks as you like, but always make these a priority. That way, you’ll be guaranteed that each day will bring you three steps closer to the goals you’ve set for your writing career!

lots of productive writing8. Enjoy a Productive Day, Writers!

No matter how you arrange your morning, having a structured routine will help you increase your productivity and get you closer to your goals. Structure can be calming, centering, and comforting. It provides the perfect set-up for a day filled with creativity and…you guessed it—writing!

See you on the next page!

Nikki Bee

 


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How to MacGyver Your Writing

Need to Fix Your Writing? Grab Some Duct Tape!

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MacGyver and writing — a pair made in heaven? Many of you will remember MacGyver, the mild-mannered scientist-turned-government-agent that could rig a bomb with a shoelace or take down a bad guy with a couple of twist-ties and a rubber band. Some younger writers may not, but never fear–word has it that there’s a MacGyver remake on the horizon, so stay tuned!

MacGyver’s specialty was being able to use ordinary, everyday objects to do amazing things like escape from holding cells, foil bank robbers, and pretty much save the world. On top of it all, he did it all without guns, preferring brains over brawn in most situations.

So what does this have to do writing? Turns out, a lot.

First of all, the series was so popular that the name MacGyver went on to become a verb. As in, “I couldn’t get the car to start, so I MacGyvered it with a toothpick and a D-ring.” Beyond that, MacGyver’s methods give us great ways to improve writing.

Writing a Villain the MacGyver Way

Villains are bad. Very bad. And they are often responsible for stunningly evil deeds. But as good writers know, sometimes the most frightening things are those we see every day. Stephen King certainly knew this. The creepy clown in “It”, the possessed car in “Christine”, man’s best friend in “Cujo”, and even a loyal fan (“Misery”) are all common objects that—through clever storytelling—fill the reader with horror and dread. Mr. King doesn’t have a monopoly on this literary device, so you’re free to snatch it for your own stories. When you’re thinking about creating your next villain, make him or her (or it!) something or someone from the mundane world. Then and sit back and wait for the screaming to start!

Contrasting Clever with Tech-y

Even if you’re writing hard sci-fi, there’s a place for some MacGyvery! Having your characters use what they’ve got available to them makes them more realistic to readers; more “human” if you will. Even if your character is a one-armed purple people eater from Mars, getting him to fasten open the airlock with a piece of rope rather than telekinesis lends him an air of believability. Not that you have to go with all low-tech solutions. If a sixth sense, super power, or high-tech submachine gun is appropriate, write it in. Just don’t forget the everyday details!

Defining Your Character

Once in a while you unsuspectingly write your characters into a place where there isn’t much to work with. I recently did this in a novella where a character fell down a mine shaft and then has to fight the forces of evil. What did she have with her? Just what she was wearing when she fell—in this case jeans, sneakers, a button-down shirt, belt, cell phone, and silver earrings. Believe it or not, she had all the tools she needed. Not only did a little swift MacGyvering allow my character to show off her smarts, it allowed her to overcome the internal obstacle of uncertainty about her abilities. All of this translated into a whopping win for my story. Try infusing your characters with a little MacGyverism to highlight their creativity, grace under pressure, quick-wittedness, or any number of characteristics.

One Last Thing…

If you hit a snag with your writing, don’t worry–just channel a little MacGyver for yourself. One of his famous catchphrases is: “If I had some duct tape, I could fix that!” So grab some duct tape, tape your butt to the seat of your chair and keep writing. Miracles will happen!

See you on the next page!

Nikki Bee

 


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this 70s sitcom will help you be a better writer

How This 70s Sitcom Can Make You A Better Writer

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You remember Oscar Madison, the lovable lummox from Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple”? Always pushing socks, dirty underwear, and food-laden dishes out of his way to scribble a few notes down on a pad of paper, Oscar epitomized a disorganized writer. Despite his casual approach to life and work his sports column thrived, but he didn’t worry much about being a better writer. He simply wrote.

Enter his roommate: uptight, obsessive-compulsive Felix Unger, a newswriter and germophobe who worries excessively about organization and feels the need to point out all of Oscar’s failings. He may have irritated people with his criticism, but he got things done and got all of his facts straight. The friends’ clashing styles cause them to have a tumultuous relationship, but each grudgingly admits the other was good for them.

Unwittingly, this 70s sitcom provided the perfect formula for you to be a better writer. It solves the problem of getting your writing out of your head and on paper and then gives you the tools to make that writing world-class. Let’s look at how it’s done.

jack klugmanWrite Like A Slob

You heard me. Go ahead, slump down in your chair, put your feet up on the table, eat some Cheetos, channel Oscar Madison and veg out. Just make sure that you write while you’re doing it. Oscar was on to something with his lackadaisical approach; he knew that sometimes inspiration needs a bit of space. I don’t mean that you should put off writing until you “feel it” — I am saying you write whenever, whatever, even if you don’t feel it! Write on the backs of bill envelopes, the cover of the phone book (if you still have one!), or on an app on your phone. If an idea strikes, just stop and get it down. Laundry will wait. Dinner can wait. Even most errands can wait. Take advantage of those lightening strikes of brilliance when the universe offers them up to you. The first step to becoming a better writer is to start writing.

Don’t force it. Be casual and know that it will come in its own good time. Stressing over whether or not you have an idea is not going to make matters better and may, in fact, make them much worse! When you write, just let the words flow. Don’t worry about whether they make sense or not. Don’t worry about punctuation, phrasing, dialogue, or story line. Just write!

Edit Like A Neat Freaktony randall

Remember, Felix did have a point about Oscar’s laziness. Sometimes his laxity led to messed up finances, toxic living spaces, and disappointed friends and employers. To try and counter his friend’s casual approach to life, Felix danced in the other direction. He tidied up behind Oscar at warp speed, micromanaged his tasks and to-do list, and worried about every sniffle and sneeze. This is exactly the tact a writer needs to take when editing the works produced in a frenzy of Oscar-like creativity.

When you put your editing cap on, channel Felix’s unrestrained nit-pickery. Go over every word, every sentence, every phrase like your life depends upon it. To be a better writer, scrutinize your storyline, check your facts, and brutally remove any words that don’t add value to your writing. Clean it up until it sparkles! Obsess over verb tense and adverb use. Get psycho over subplots. Do whatever it takes to make your writing as polished as possible. If you use Felix’s attention to detail, you can’t help but be a better writer by the end of your editing session!

Felix: Ah… you “assumed”. My dear, you should never “assume”. You see, when you “assume”

[writes the word “assume” on a blackboard]

Felix: you make an “ass”… out of “you”… and “me”.

Using both Oscar and Felix’s strategies at the appropriate times allows you to channel what’s good about their approaches while eliminating the drawbacks. Loosening up to let creativity flow then tightening your scope during editing is the perfect mix to take your writing to the next level.

See you on the next page!

Nikki Bee

 


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sci-fi writing prompt

February 5, 2016: Sci-Fi

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A few of you have requested that I provide a few more clues to spark your creativity for these prompts, so I will start with this sci-fi one:

  • Who is burning the words?
  • What does the language control?
  • Who wishes to stop the words from burning?
  • What century is it?
  • Are the words in books or printed out from a computer?
  • Is there some reason why print might be archaic or obsolete?

Okay now — go write about it!

 

Nikki Bee


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