Can’t think of what to say…

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Blog posts are fun to write. You can make them as long–or as short–as you like, talk about anything, make them funny, educational, inspirational…the possibilities are endless.

I started blogging in 2010. At first, I wrote a little of everything. Gradually, specially after I published my first novel, most of my posts dealt with different aspects of writing.

What happens, though, when you’re stuck and don’t know what to say? Finding a daily topic can be difficult. Trust me, I struggle with that too. Where can you get ideas?

First, read other blogs. I remember thinking I didn’t have time to do that. I worked full-time outside the home. When I had time to spare, I wrote. I was missing the point. In order to write a blog, you need to know what’s hot and what’s not. Reading blogs that deal with topics that interest you is key.

Second, look for what others don’t talk about in their post, and elaborate in yours. For example, you read a garden post on how to grow beautiful flowers, but they don’t talk about vegetables. Your prized tomatoes have neighbours gawking at your garden all the time! There’s your chance to tell the world about it.

Third, take notes. A teacher at a writers conference strongly suggested we keep a small notebook and pen in every room in the house. Why? Ideas can strike at anytime. In the middle of the night when you toss and turn and your novel or blog is developing in your head, don’t think you’ll remember every detail in the morning. You won’t. I kept a 3×5 spiral notebook on my bedside table at all time (and on the china cabinet, in my craft room/office, in the man cave…) to jot down any that came to mind. Now I use the Notes app on my cell phone.

Fourth, do author interviews and/or review their book(s). What better way to help them? I’ve done several of those because when I read a book I enjoy, I love to tell others, just like I hope they’ll do with mine. A writer’s best promotion is an author review. It can be on Amazon, but it can be in your blog too. 

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Lastly,  Be Creative! The internet is an ocean with topics in every page you open. Google, Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook, to name a few. Let your fingers do the walking. How did writers, in days of old, find inspiration? They had no internet or TV. The idea for my first novel came from the story of a missing child on the local TV news. It saddened me they hadn’t found her. Wondering what might have happened, I decided to write about it. NOT about the same child, NOT the same scenario. I simply took the idea of a missing child and her mother’s struggle to find her.

How do you get your blog post ideas? Where do you turn to find great topics you hope will wow your readers? Share your comments below.

 

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Inspiration…oh where art thou?

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Tired of looking at a blank screen? Your fingers are on the keyboard but refuse to move? Aggravating, isn’t it? I’ve been there. In fact, I think it’s fair to say ALL writers, at some time or another, have been there and done that. 

The first thing I like to do in the morning is ask God to inspire my heart, soul, and mind with His words. That, however, doesnt make me immune to writers block.

We all write differently. Some writers plot their novel ahead of time. They outline scenes and chapters before they begin the task of putting words on paper–or computer. Pantsers, like me, write by the seat of their pants.  

I begin with a one-liner in my head, fifteen to twenty words that tell me what the story’s about. I don’t know how I’m going to go from my opening line to The End, but as long as the words keep flowing, I watch it take shape while my fingers do their fancy dance on the keyboard. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Not always. 

What happens when the inspiration you asked for just isn’t there? Is God saying Take a break? It’ll come. 

I like to ask six basic questions. Who did what? How did they do it? When, where, and why? As I answer each one, I watch the scene unfold in my mind’s eyes. It may take a while, but I eventually get there.

Here’s the one-liner for my first novel, Stella’s Plea (don’t worry, no spoiler): Story of a deaf three-year-old child who disappears, and her mother’s struggle to find her. Before I began, I knew the end. Whether or not she’d be found. Dead or alive.

There were times words flowed so well, I couldn’t type fast enough. Other times, my mind was as blank as the screen in front of me. Even asking all the above questions didn’t help. What could I do? 

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I had two options. I could sit there and wait for something to pop in my mind. That could take a while. OR, I could walk away. Even though I wanted to write but couldn’t come up with anything. Oftentimes, it worked.

Now, that’s what I do. Not for long, mind you. I do a few stretches and walk around. I might go to the kitchen to refill my glass of water, or maybe walk down to the ‘man cave’ to see what hubby’s watching on TV. Why not start supper listening to the music in the background?

No matter what, though, before I sit at the computer, I love to start with prayer. That’s where my inspiration comes from. He might enlighten me through something I see when I walk past the window. What I hear on the radio, or see on TV? That inspiration might be what I need to go back and pick up where I left off. Until He says something, I stay away.

How do you stop writer’s block? Where do you get your inspiration? Leave a comment below.

Sweet Thoughts and Writer’s Block

One day, recently, as I stared at my computer screen with a bad case of writer’s block, my husband came in from work. My office is next to the entryway, so from where I sat, laptop on its tray, and the tray over my lap, I asked about his day.  

“Good. I brought you a flower,” were his first words.

“Oh? What’s the occasion,” I asked, somewhat baffled.

My husband is a real romantic in his own way, and he knows chocolate and flowers are NOT at the top of my ‘want’ list. (I know, some of you are shaking your head wondering why I don’t want chocolate). But notice he said “brought” and not “bought.”

“No occasion,” came his reply, as he took off his work boots dropped them at the bottom of the closet. “Maybe I’m kissing up for something.”

I could hear him smile. “And for what might that be,” I chuckled.

“I don’t know yet.”

Okay, he wouldn’t tell me why he brought me a flower (he always gets them in bunches), and I needed to see what he was up to. And I needed to see this flower.

I moved my laptop tray, and stepped out of my office. Then my mouth dropped. This was priceless. There, on the bench next to him, was a huge piece of cake, with a large rose made of frosting.

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“It’s pink too, and a corner piece.” he added, a proud look on his face. Pink is my favourite color and I love the icing. The sweeter, the better. Usually!

The occasion? My husband’s co-worker had retired and they’d held a small go-away party for her in the office.

“The cake,” my husband went on to tell me, “had two large flowers like this one. The other one was white.”

My guy is a keeper. Very romantic in his own way and I love it when he does these small, random acts of kindness. But little did he know, in the process, he’d help me with two things.

First, this gave me an idea for today’s blog post. So I hurried to get the camera and took a picture of the cake.

Second, after eating part of it (trust me, it took a lot of willpower for me to stop, I could have eaten all of it), I returned to my little office, put the tray back on my lap, and I let my fingers do the typing.

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Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting the sugar rush unlocked writer’s block, nor am I saying everyone should eat a piece of cake when the ideas stop flowing, and words won’t come. But for me, simply walking away from the computer, even for a short while, helps. Spending a few minutes talking with my husband, or looking at the pheasant outside my window now and then can trigger ideas. For those who may be wondering, I live in the city, closer to downtown actually, yet we see this guy (and a bunch of ducks) around our property all the time.

What do you do when you get writer’s block? Please share what works for you.