There are DINOSAURS! in the Cultural Centre, Perth.

dinosaurI swear! I saw it, stalking the people down in the square. I went to grab my camera. I mean that’s what you do when you see a dinosaur right? You don’t run for safety, you rummage through your bag for your camera-phone. I just wanted a quick snap, maybe some video evidence, I needed proof to show you. I’m not crazy, I swear, I really did see a dinosaur in the Cultural Centre.

The people in the square gazed up in wonder at themselves on the big screen. It’s a good time to dance and be silly, when a giant cinema screen is projecting your every movement to the greater populace. But seriously, there was a Velociraptor eyeing you up for lunch, or maybe, since it’s still early, it was breakfast.

I think it escaped from the Museum because I saw a Brachiosaurus, or maybe it was an Apatosaurus (Brontosaurus), in there last week. I think they’re doing some sort of genetic research in the Museum. Probably down in the bowels of the Museum where they keep the ageing Mummy and stolen treasure. I heard there is a missing submarine in there. But, right now, this very minute, they are replicating the hard-core science from Jurassic Park. They’re cloning dinosaurs! Raising the young, and releasing them into the city!

Technology is scary. And sure, maybe what I saw was some fancy computer augmentation. But doesn’t it just blow your mind to know you might be sharing your favourite spot in the sun with a dinosaur?

There is a story in that somewhere.

Free Write Against the Blank Page

A Guest Post By Kimberlee Ferrell.
Enjoying small town life and her two daughters, Kimberlee Ferrell still carves out time to write. Her blog, Freedom Writing, explores writing, parenting, and anything that flows out of her pen. Stop by to investigate the inner workings of her mind, and to learn more about her copywriting, proofreading, and editing expertise. Strong coffee and walnut brownies will be provided.

The blank page stares me in the face again. I am trying to write this post, but the lack of words on the screen paralyzes me. It causes the greatest writers among us to freeze up, and decide to wash the dishes, walk the dog, or do anything else but stare back at the empty canvas.

As writers, we face this on a daily basis. With each new article, blog post, or short story, we come full circle, to give birth to a new idea, to share our words with others. We turn to a fresh page in our notebooks or turn on our processing program, then stop. The glaring white page is empty, and our minds fill with doubts. “Where should I begin?” “What should I write about?” “Does anyone care about what I have to say?” “Are there really any original ideas?”

These thoughts and doubts can instantly send your muse to a vacation in the Bahamas, without you. There is a way to rekindle your writing: the free write. Many writers have used this technique to work past their writer’s block, and write no matter how they feel. I first discovered this exercise in Natalie Goldberg’s book, Writing Down the Bones. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in free writing, or just looking for an excellent read. She illustrates how to free write without expectations, and how to mine your first draft for those golden nuggets of exposition.

There are many ways to free write, and there is no one right way. There are two key techniques that I use when free writing. I set a timer in my head or on my desk, to give myself an immediate deadline. I also never stop writing for any reason. Do not be tempted to fix your spelling or grammar, save it for the editing phase. Choose one of these free writes the next time your fingers refuse to hit the keyboard.

Write the thoughts running through your head. When your inner editor casts doubts on everything from your lack of vocabulary to what you ate for breakfast, get it out on paper. Write whatever is bothering you at this moment. Set a timer for 10 minutes, and just keep writing every random thought that enters your head, whether it is related to writing or not. Let your mind dump its cluttered thoughts onto the page, and then set it aside. Your mind can relax, knowing you have addressed whatever was bothering you. Plus, you have written a few hundred words. Keep the momentum going, and dive into your writing project.

Write anything about your chosen topic. Sometimes you don’t know where to begin. Give yourself permission to dive headfirst into your topic, and write anything about it. Don’t worry about writing a captivating lead, or placing your thoughts into logical order. Cover the length and breadth of your topic, as the ideas come to you. You can always organize it later. This technique unearths new ideas I hadn’t considered before, adding depth to the final draft.

Write down topic ideas. This free write can be written traditionally, or in list form. Brainstorm a list of anything you want to write about. You can write a list of article titles, blog ideas, or conflicts for your main character. Once you have exhausted your list of ideas, go back over each and write a few sentences to flesh out your idea in more detail. This technique generates a lot of new leads over a short period of time.

Write something completely different. When your current project is wholly uninspiring, try writing something in a different topic, genre, or format. For example, if you are having trouble writing another SEO article, write a few pages of your novel instead. Once you’ve given your brain some free time, you can switch back to your project and get to work.

These are just a few of the possible ways you can use free writing to rejuvenate your writing juices. Once you start to write, the words come quick and easy.

The key is to sit down, and just write.

How have you incorporated free writes into your writing life? Do you have any other types of free writes to share? Leave a comment to let everyone know what works for you when you encounter the blank page.

Mornings – Guest Post by Jean Knill

How I love the feel of the early mornings.  It’s great to wake up to the freshness of a new day with all those writing hours to fill.

What puts me off getting out of bed is the thought of all the things I have to do first, before I can sit down at the computer and transfer my thoughts to the screen.  I’m actually quite fond of deadlines if they mean I can allow myself to move directly from bed to keyboard without even getting dressed.

Unfortunately can’t do this on a normal day.  My mind is distracted by guilt at the thought of all the waiting chores.  And what if someone came to the door after 9 am and found me unwashed and still in my dressing gown?

But long ago I decided that, if I couldn’t be writing, I must seek inspiration from my personal relationship with mornings.  Here’s a typical morning.

When I can’t put it off any longer, it’s off with the duvet and my feet hit the floor.  It’s no good bathing or showering before exercising, so I’ll get that out of the way first.  Oh heck, I can’t walk past that laundry basket without taking it to the washing machine, scrubbing the shirt collars and searching for other stains that need treating before I can switch it on.

This wakes up my muse, so I retrieve notebook and pencil from my dressing gown pocket and write: Poem – Wash Tub Blues.

After my shower, I do my hair and make up if I’ve time before hubby comes in for breakfast.  I’ll sit and eat with him for 20 minutes and perhaps the mail will arrive.  If something’s been accepted, it’s not too early for a bucks fizz.  Rejection notices will have me crawling to the fridge to find some little extra delicacy to cheer me up.

Here’s that muse again: Article on comfort eating for women’s press + more general one for content site.

Before I head upstairs to the office, there’s the washing to hang up and the kitchen to clear up.  Gosh, I almost forgot – what can we have for supper tonight?  Do I need to get something out of the freezer?

Inspiration: Article title – Fast but Healthy Food From Your Freezer.

Oops, there’s the phone – it’s my sister who’s recently retired and thinks a little chat would stave off the boredom for a while.

Hello muse, what now?: short story about someone newly retired.

Finally I sit down in front of my VDU.  My mind is clear for work, but I’ll just check my emails first, to see if I have anything else to celebrate, like an on-line sale.

Prompt: another article: How Writing for Websites Differs from Writing for Print.

At 10.45 am, I click on Word and the screen fills with my current project. Once that is completed, I’ll get out my notebook to make plans for the next pieces to write.  Not such a bad morning’s work really.

Jean Knill is an talented writer and I’ve adored reading her lively and genuine voice. You can read more about Jean and her writing life on her blog, Jean’s Musings and at WriteLink.

The Idea Waterfall: Where Do Ideas Come From?

Where do writers get their ideas? The Idea Waterfall

I rejoice under a waterfall of ideas. *

There is a refreshing cascade that captures my breath in iced chill. It washes dirt and grime from my skin. Goosebumps gather as the heat of an Australian summer washes into the pool beneath me.

This is my abundance. This is my Idea Waterfall.

I’ve often heard new writers wonder, “Where do ideas come from?” or complain, “I can’t think of anything to write about.” Do you want to know the secret location of the idea waterfall? Read on and I’ll share it with you.

Acceptance Lane

A closed mind can’t take a chance on getting lost. He’ll never venture off the well worn paths to discover the wonders beyond what he already knows. The first step on the path to finding ideas and the idea waterfall requires you to open your mind and your heart to other concepts and other beliefs. Open yourself to opportunity, luck, chance, and possibility.

Gratitude Circle

The truth is we live in an abundant universe. With various neon signs of wealth all around us we sometimes become too distracted to notice the turnoff for Gratitude Circle. We might have little in an economic sense but in every breath, in every smile, there is a gift. Every thread of the shirt on your back, every grain of sand in the bricks of your home, every drop that flows from your taps, every lesson that taught you to read, everything is a gift from our abundant universe. Be thankful.

Acknowledgment Way

Learn to express your gratitude. Appreciate yourself and the blessings that are already in your life. Take a detour down Acknowledgment Way and share yourself, your time, your experience, or a simple smile. Acknowledge the people in your life. Appreciate the opportunities you find along the way. Look with both eyes at your thoughts and acknowledge them. Tip your hat at a random idea, no matter how strange it might seem. Play with the idea. Let it be and thank it for being.

Organization Street

Organization Street is very neat and orderly. Here we keep track of ideas. I know many writers are messy by trade but I’ve found as I grow more organized my mind shuffles to adjust to my surroundings. There is a sense of purpose and growing confidence. You can be organized in a disorganized way. Keep a notepad and write down each idea as it comes to you. This notebook could simply be a scratch pad that builds up with ideas that you never look at. You may never refer to the notebook but so long as you are organized enough to keep track of all your concepts and inspirations they will continue to flow toward you.

Permission Avenue

Finally, give yourself permission to drive down Permission Avenue. Permit yourself to have ideas and give your them permission to be as crazy, far out, or boring as possible. Avoid censoring your ideas as they come to you and stop looking for reasons an idea won’t work. Any idea is a good one. Each idea are a jumping off point from which you can draw more ideas; welcome them all.

This is the map to an idea waterfall that never runs dry. Ideas flow, unstoppable, unquenchable; they thrum with the pulse of their own life. Cherish the waterfall and you will never be at a loss for something to write about.

Make Time To Write This Holiday

With family descending and the holiday season upon us, it often feels as if there is no time for ourselves. We’ve been hectic through the last minute shopping; cooking up a storm; wrapping gifts of all shapes and sizes. At one of the busiest times of the year it may be hard to find time to write.

Writing is such an integral part of writers. It is vital to give ourselves time. Perhaps our gift to ourselves this holiday is time to write. Fifteen minutes in the morning before the children wake, thirty minutes after lunch while everyone is dozing off their turkey hangovers, an hour in the evening instead of doing dishes that can wait until morning.

While we are busy it is impossible to ‘find’ time. That is why it is so important to ‘make’ time. Steal moments for yourself and your words.

One of the easiest ways to make time to write is to have the means to write no matter where you are. Keep a notebook and pen on you at all times. There are frequent occasions that would allow you to spare a few moments to take notes. Jot down ideas, experiences, and snippets of dialogue or emotion.

Put off non-vital tasks. Instead of spending time as you would on normal days choose not to log on to the internet today, don’t check your email, don’t catch up on blogs. Make today one you spend with your family, and with yourself. Use moments saved from other tasks to write.

Use the momentum of the day to experience. The holidays are a time of vivid emotion and reality. We connect on a level that surpasses our normal human condition. We feel more deeply. Give thanks for this time of year and allow yourself to truly experience every moment. Then make the time to write about how you feel and what you’ve experienced in your day.

There are so many wonderful elements of the holidays that should be captured on paper. It might not lead to a story or an article. But the compost of information you gather at this time of year will enrich your writing for years to come.

Create those moments for yourself. Fill yourself with the energy and enthusiasm of this time of year and let it fill your writing with an inspiration that will carry you through the New Year.