Mantra of the Sci-Fi Writer.

Above me an endless ocean of air stretches beyond the limitations of the eye. A blue blanket that encompasses the sphere of our planet. A soaring horizon that reaches into thousands of kilometres to the thinnest reaches of our atmosphere. The world above us, is vast. It carries that special wonder that invites us to explore. Man has begun that exploration, but what might the future bring?

Ancient philosophers, artists, and scientists gazed in wonder at the sky, and wondered the same. That question permeating through their minds. The most adventurous of them explored the ultimate possibility in that vastness. They imagined great metal contraptions that carried huge cargo across oceans through the air. They imagined little gliders, larger planes, and speedy jets that thrust their pilots back with G-force and broke the sound barrier. They imagined beyond, to the moon, to the stars. They imagined rockets, and shuttles, and space stations.

Perhaps one day we will gaze again upon the once glorious sky in our future and see sky highways clogged with flying air taxis. Perhaps one day we will glance up and see giant skyscrapers stretching out towards the heavens. We’ll look up beyond the cluttered skies to the far reaches of space. And cast our reach farther and farther away from this earthbound existence, into the stars. And even then philosophers, artists, and scientists will gaze in wonder and ask, “What might the future bring?”

This is the job of the Science Fiction writer. We dream, we imagine, we philosophise about the life future generations may be living. A writer explores the wonder of ultimate possibility. We explore the idea of other life forms, more advanced civilisations on distant worlds, worlds finding new life and being born into the ether among the stars. We ask, “What might the future bring?” And we tell the story of the people who live within that incredible future and the way life might be if only we could dream and imagine and philosophise such an existence into being.

Adapted from a draft originally begun in February 2010 by JoshG

Real-Life Inspiration for Fictional Conversations and Finding Ideas

“Imagination and fiction make up more than three-quarters of our real life.” ~ Simone Weil

Ever been at a family reunion, get-together, party or other event and overheard juicy gossip about love affairs or other eyebrow-raising talk?

The (Real) Scene

You’re nibbling on that yummy chocolate cake someone made—the one that is so moist it melts as soon as it hits your tongue; the one that is so chocolaty and divine, you think you’ve died and gone to paradise when, all of a sudden, it happens–you overhear juicy news.

“Susie, I have to tell you something.”

“What?”

Overheard Chocolate Cake Confessions“I’m pregnant.”

“Congratulations to you and Darren!”

“Um, not exactly…”

“Whatever do you mean, Erin?”

“Well, see, I met this man–Carlos.”

“Where?!”

“At the park.”

“Oh, Erin! How…”

“I know what you’re thinking, Susie. And I felt awful at first. Just horrendous!”

“But Erin.”

“Susie, he’s so handsome! His skin looks and feels like soft, melted caramel. His eyes are an endless sea of dark chocolate. And his hair… He has a mane of hair that is long, shiny, black, and wavy. It glistens in the sunlight (and moonlight!) with hues of blue–breathtaking. Carlos is everything I’ve ever dreamed of: daring, spontaneous, mysterious, loving, romantic—and oh, so much more!”

“Oh, Erin!”

Jolt of Reality

In walks the husband, Darren.

Uh-oh!

Gulp.

Oh, that was you—not Susie!

Now both Susie and Erin have realized you overheard the whole shebang. And Darren is left wondering why he could cut the tension in the room with that (chocolate) cake knife.

Stealing Inspiration

Wouldn’t this make for a pretty cool scene in a love story? Or do you think it’s cheesy and awful?

Have you ever been in that situation? Did you take notes—whether mental or with paper and pen? Did you try to ignore the conversation and then later wished you had written down every measly detail of juiciness?

Would you tell Erin’s husband she’s cheating on him? Would your reaction be different in real life than the make-believe story you’re writing–or would it be the same. Why?

And what about “those people” from down the street? Or the co-workers with questionable behavior?

There are so many things in real life that we can take and bleed into works of fiction. True, not every family member, friend, or “different” person you come in contact with will have a steamy — or even interesting — story. But even so, you can spice it up and make it as interesting as you’d like.

In my opinion, a lot of fiction is based on real life anyway. Sure, there are writers who have off-the-wall, unique (and simply amazing!) imaginations but there’s also quite a bit of make-believe that’s based on true stories. They’re just embellished. That’s where creative writing comes in, right?

Right.

Have you  swiped a storyline from your own family or friends? If so, did they find out? What was their reaction? Do you think it’s ethical? Of course, you’d have to change names, locations, etc., so readers (or the people you’re swiping inspiration from!) would never know exactly who you’ve based your story or book on. Come on, spill the beans. You know you want to!

Photo Credit: 10-08-07 © Hélène Vallée
Quote Source: Quote Garden, Imagination

Writing Inspiration From Simple Living On An Amish Farm

The windmill on Michele's Amish farm.

Where do you find your writing inspiration?

“The trouble with simple living is that, though it can be joyful, rich, and creative, it isn’t simple.” ~ Doris Janzen Longacre

Writing from an Amish farm? Sounds serene, right?. That’s what you think!

“Really,” you ask?

“Yes, really. And I’ll tell you why.”

The Truth About Farm Life

Many of you may envision me sitting on the porch with my favorite (green juice or smoothy!) and happily tapping away at the keyboard. And that does happen, some of the time. But there’s always behind-the-scenes stuff too.

You know, there’s a thing called chores: tending the animals, planting, watering, weeding, making homemade laundry detergent, hanging clothes on the line (aka solar dryer!), carrying water (this is improving as we now have upgraded the system and have water hoses but there’s still places on the farm the hoses won’t reach and that equals carrying buckets of water) and a ton of other odds and ends things

There are, however, many advantages I am thankful for:

  • fertile land to grow colorful flowers and harvest organic foods
  • the whippoorwill’s song – sound-chi – every evening
  • the entertaining antics of our working farm animals — plus rabbits, squirrels, and birds
  • horse-drawn buggies passing to and fro, driven by the local Amish
  • the careful, hand-crafted structure and sturdiness of an Amish-built home
  • an opportunity to learn new things (like the Amish water system!) that many people may never know
  • and so much more…

Finding Ideas and Writing Inspiration through living

And what do these things have to do with writing? Well, first of all, I’ve sold stories (including ghostwritten ones) on some of the above topics. Second, without the experiences I’ve had here on the farm, I’d probably have never sold–or even written–those stories. Sure, I could have researched those things but they’d never have the character and spin I was able to put on them had I not lived these amazing experiences.

I meet new Amish folk and I continuously learn new things about them and the life they lead. Every person I meet is uniquely individual; many defy the “stereotype”; A lot of them are more modern these days (like eating at McDonald’s, buying processed food, etc.) but there are also quite a few of the old-school Amish around. They grow a huge garden and adhere to the old Amish path; their deep roots in tradition and simple living.

All of the adventures on this Amish farm give me writing inspiration. While I’m gardening, my mind-wheel begins turning; new articles or blog posts are born. The fresh air, sunshine, and rich connection with Mother Earth that comes from working so closely with the land rejuvenates me. It provides me with that breath of fresh air, that new-found inspiration, I need to crank out quality writing.

Maybe someday I’ll write a book about it all–possibly even fiction! For now, making time to write articles in-between all the chores and busy Amish style livin’ is just fine with me.

Do you find writing inspiration in the simple act of living? How do you squeeze in your writing amid the chores of your chosen lifestyle? And what about the Amish? Are you as fascinated with them as I am? Do you know any Amish people? Let’s hear it!

Photo Credit: Michele L. Tune
Quote Credit: Quote Garden

A Fear of Change from Freelance to Writing Fiction

Did you love fiction and make believe as a child?When Writer’s Round-About became The Craft of Writing Fiction I felt experienced a fear of change because I’m a non-fiction writer and rarely spend time writing fiction. As I was chatting with my writing colleague, Kimberlee Ferrell, about the changes, I realized my relationship with fiction isn’t as distant as I thought.

Precious Memories

In fact, while reading Kim’s latest post (Reading and Writing: Develop Your Child’s Love of Language) I realized that fiction hits close to home–real close. Not only was my childhood passion for reading based on fictional books and stories, it’s the genre I first started writing!

One of Kim’s tips from that post is:

“Of course, before kids can learn to write well, they need the fundamentals of the alphabet, and reading. I try to read every day with them. Right before bed is the traditional reading time, but don’t be surprised if they come running to you with their favorite story in the middle of the afternoon. Anytime is a good time to share a story with your kids.”

And she goes on to suggest the library as a fabulous place to nurture your children’s reading and writing skills:

“Be sure to take them to the library as often as possible, to expose them to the wide variety of books available. Many libraries have summer reading programs that encourage children to read (or be read to), with many rewards along the way. You could also join (or create) a parent-child book club to encourage the sharing of books and stories.”

Wow. Kim’s words jostled my memory of the countless trips my parents and I made to the library when I was growing up. And they read to me, bought me (both new and used) books to keep in my personal library, and always, always encouraged my passion for reading, writing, and spelling. Those were the days!

Fear of Change

But see, I’ve been hesitant about the new turn this site has taken. As someone who simply detests change – even though I know in my heart and soul it’s usually always for the better in any situation – my heart kind of sank when I found out that Writer’s Round-About had become a new and improved site: The Craft of Writing Fiction.

Here’s a snippet of what the site owner, Rebecca Laffar-Smith, has shared regarding the changes:

We’re still Writer’s Round-About deep within our souls but we’re so much more than that too. And we want to develop a powerful presence, an inspirational community, and a go-to resource for writers.

The new domain name, craftingfiction.com also has a strong sense of purpose and commitment. It is a strong foundation for growth and expansion. It’s forward thinking and innovative. It’s driven to succeed and we are too.

I’m sure these changes are for the better. And, just like children learn and grow and change, so do we as adults. It’s how we improve and move further down the path of success.

I think my hesitation comes from feeling such a closeness to Writer’s Round-About’s history. I’ve read this blog from the beginning—when it was born on Blogger! And I’ve been around for the switch to self-hosted WordPress. I eventually shared a few guest posts with readers here and now (with close to 40 posts published) I guess you’d call me a regular contributor.

Rebecca and the other bloggers here have become more than writing colleagues or friends—they’re family. And this blog feels like a place I’ve always been welcome to come to, kick off my shoes, grab my favorite drink, and get comfy.

And that hasn’t changed, I know.

My (Comforting) Epiphany

The epiphany I’ve had about this whole “fiction theme” –and what Kim helped me see during our talk today—is that my roots with fiction date back to my earliest years.

Although I love writing non-fiction and telling real-life stories now, my passion for reading and writing was actually born as I read countless pages of fictional stories.

When I was a little girl, my all-time favorite book was Danny and the Dinosaur. Next in line was Charlotte’s Web and Judy Blume was one of my favorite authors. As a child, I felt such a sense of peace with a book in my little hands, reading a make-believe story that took my mind to far away places. And even today, when life overwhelms me, there’s nothing like a good novel to help me cast my worries to the wind and transport my mind to another world.

And now, finally, I’m at peace with the new direction this site has taken.

I owe a special thank you to Kim and Rebecca, for helping me search my heart and remember how much fiction has played a significant role in my life. Thanks, ladies!

What about you? Do you gravitate toward non-fiction? Or does your imagination carry you away to a place of innocent make-believe? Do you love the new look, feel, and theme of this site? ‘Fess up!

Photo credit: mexikids

Word Count: Murdering Your Darlings and King’s 10% Rule

Murder Your Darlings ~ Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch

“Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it – whole-heartedly — and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings.” ~ Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch (1914)


First drafts tend to be unusually long winded. We write at length because it is the surest way to express those thoughts and impressions most profound. We over-describe. We add chatter. We include thinking words. In the process of writing a first draft we write with a freedom of expression that is uncensored and unfettered.

A first draft is NOT a final draft.

Recently, a client emailed me with a request to edit the first chapter of their first draft. I don’t recommend hiring an editor for your first draft. The story has barely begun to be formed after your first pass and it requires at least one (preferably two) more drafts before it should be handled by others. In this case, the fact that it was a first draft wasn’t the issue. The fact that it was an 11,000 word count first chapter was.

There are no hard and fast rules about how long a story should be. Even the standard guides aren’t concrete. A story is as long as it takes to tell the story. But there are conventions that we tend to follow to increase our odds of being read. Very few readers will be comfortable facing such lengthy chapters.

When Writing Long Is Writing Long-Winded

The best way to handle the obesity of that first draft is to follow Stephen King’s Ten Percent Rule. In 1966, when King was still in high school he received a rejection slip that offered profound advice for the young writer.1

“Not bad but puffy,” the editor wrote. “You need to review for length.”

That wise editor gave King a winning formula:

“2nd Draft = 1st draft – 10%”
~ Stephen King (2002)

But you’ve got lots of darlings in your first draft. How do you really know where to cut the fat and prune the weeds? Which words are fat? Which words are weeds? Each story is different but there are some words we use in modern language that are unnecessary when writing fiction.

Words You Should Search And Destroy

When you examine a draft for superfluous words or seek ways to be more concise you can sharpen the language of the manuscript and reduce the word count. There are a selection of words you can almost always cut without changing the meaning of a sentence. The first five words you can cut are:

  1. Just: The only time this word is actually a word is when you use it to mean, “guided by truth, reason, justice, and fairness”.2 There are other meanings but the word is cruelly misused so when it appears in your manuscript odds are it can be obliterated.
  2. Really: I would “really” like to obliterate the word “really”. This is an adverb that is always underwhelming. It has no substance or measure. If you feel inclined toward hyperbole find a more distinct and effective word and no, “totally” doesn’t count.
  3. Quite: This word often feels like it is trying to justify its existence. It is timid and quiet which is perhaps why the word “quite” often gets misspelled as “quiet”. The words in your story should be empowered and confident.
  4. Perhaps: Sometimes your characters may use this to indicate uncertainty. The trouble is, “perhaps” reflects uncertainty to the reader too so use it with care and only in dialogue.
  5. That: This word needs careful consideration. It’s not always one that can be cut without thought like the four above. In that sentence, and this one, the word “that” is used to define the subject of the sentence. But sometimes, even when used in this way, it is not necessary.

A Sixth Word To Cut

  1. So: My personal pet-peeve word is “so”. I believe this word can be obliterated in every single instance. Prove me wrong! If you can think of a sentence that requires the word “so” to make sense, share it in the comments. Until you can, search and destroy “so” in all of your writing.

What other words do you feel should be obliterated from fiction and what other ways do you reduce the word count of your first draft by ten percent?

References:
1. Poynter Online, The Ten Percent Solution First Draft by Chip Scanlan
2. Dictionary.com – just (adj.) 1. guided by truth, reason, justice, and fairness: We hope to be just in our understanding of such difficult situations.

Photo Credit: 09-18-07 © archives
Photo Credit: 11-27-08 © mark wragg

Character Birthdays: Happy Birthday, Heros and Heroines

Happy Birthday Cake for Heroes, Heroines, and CharactersDo you know your when to wish your characters a happy birthday? Many writers neglect the most important day of their protagonist’s life. After all, if she was not born into your imaginary world, you wouldn’t be able to tell her story now. But there are stronger writing issues to consider when deciding your male and female characters celebrate their birthday.

Happy 29th, Again

What is your character’s attitude toward her birthday, and her age? Does she dread every passing year, or does she celebrate with a blow-out party that includes everyone she’s met in her life? When are the birthday’s of your character’s family? If you don’t know, you are missing out on a key area of characterization that you could explore.

More importantly, you may miss her birthday all together! If her birthday falls right into the middle of your story, your character wouldn’t completely forget. At the very least, she would comment to herself about how she is far too busy to go out with her friends this year. Perhaps she’ll miss visiting her parents, because she has now moved halfway across the country to start her new job. Are your character’s kids celebrating their birthdays with a crisis filled birthday party? Her new love interest may forget, and schedule his monthly golf game on the birthday weekend she expected him to take her to his beach side villa. Unless you know, your characters will never age, and gain the wisdom that comes with reflecting over the course of their lives so far.

What’s Your Sign?

Another consideration is that you or your characters may have an interest in exploring what their birthday stands for, in the universal scheme of things. Astrology and Numerology use a person’s birthday to determine their personality traits, and the possible issues they might have to deal with throughout their lives. If you are struggling to flesh out a character, you can look up their birthday, and discover how they might act in their relationships, careers, and home lives. If you don’t like what the results turn up, you can change their birthday to a different sign, and start over. Even if you don’t care about such things, your young college student heroine might read her horoscope every morning, and you ought to have an idea what it would say.

Other uses for birthdays include exploring what happened on that day in history. If your historical hero was born on the day the Civil War started, he would have a different upbringing than someone whose parents raised him during the Great Depression. Many websites and books have such “Day in the Life” descriptions, or you could scan old newspapers near your character’s real world hometown. Even less famous events could play into your character’s life, such as if she were born on the same day the water tower fell and flooded her home.

Planning For Other Character’s Birthdays

Even if your story covers a short amount of time, it is wise to know when all of your characters are born, not just your protagonist. She may be planning a surprise party for her best friend, when she suddenly loses her job and can’t afford to do so anymore. Your antagonist may decide to cause havoc on his birthday every year, because local bullies wrecked his 18th birthday party.

Birthdays are a great rite of passage that everyone goes through each year. It marks new growth, beginnings, and a chance to start life with a clean slate. Your characters could use these same milestones, to take your story in new and unexpected directions.

What do birthdays mean to you, and your stories? Have you explored how your characters react to growing a year older?

Editor’s Note: Know another birthday you shouldn’t forget? Writer’s Round-About! We’re turning 3 this month so come and win some prizes at our birthday bash.

Image credit: Dan Taylor

Should Fiction Be Poetic? Part 2 of our chat with Hugo and Nebula Award-nominee Rachel Swirsky

In the first part of our series featuring science fiction and fantasy author Rachel Swirsky, the young talent revealed a collection of her poetry and short stories entitled “Through the Drowsy Dark” will be released by Aqueduct Press at the end of May. This got us talking about the differences between poetry and prose, if prose should be poetic, and how to achieve that effect in your work.

Dawn: Since it’s National Poetry Month… what are the similarities and differences between writing poetry and short fiction?

Rachel: I think poetry is intensely useful for fiction writers. It teaches one how to create images that are concrete rather than abstract, to fully exploit each word, and to understand language on the detail-level. Poetry spoils me, because you can work on each word until it’s perfect. You can rewrite a poem dozens or hundreds of times to make sure each word is exactly what you want it to be.

Dawn: You can’t do that in a short story…

Rachel: Once you’re dealing with thousands of words in short stories, you can’t give each phrase the same level of attention. With novels, there’s even less ability to focus on the micro-level.

When I took a novel workshop at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Lan Samantha Chang said that one of the most common difficulties she sees short story writers having with the novel form is letting go of their control. Novels are too long to perfect word by word, and usually too much for a writer to keep in mind all at once in the way you can with a short story (or so I’m told).

Poetry is the opposite: you have an extremely high degree of control over the words and it’s fairly easy to keep the whole thing in mind at once, or even to memorize the whole project if you want to. Sometimes that control can be maddening if you can’t create the effect you want, and I know there have been plenty of times when I’ve caught myself retyping the same three words over and over, changing them slightly and then changing them back, until I’m completely frustrated. This is usually a good time to walk away.

Dawn: Your prose is very poetic — one of the things I love about it. Do you make a conscious effort to do that?

Rachel: I do make an effort to be poetic in what I write. Which is to say, poetry is extremely conscious of the language it uses to convey ideas. It’s easier for people writing prose to abstract themselves from the means of communication, because prose is an unmarked form–we use it when we speak, and when we write notes to each other, and when we write up reports at work. It’s ubiquitous, so we can pretend it’s not even there, much like fish probably don’t think, “Hey, I’m swimming through the water” every thirty seconds. But it is there.

Dawn: I think it’s easier to “try” to abstract ourselves from the means of communication. But truly transparent prose can take as much work as poetic prose. Otherwise, it looks self-conscious…

Rachel: Transparent prose attempts to use language in a way that the audience won’t notice–to take advantage of the ubiquity of the medium so it disappears. This can be a beautiful technique. Prose that we consider poetic, or sometimes I hear people use the term self-conscious, is playing more overtly with the medium of language.

Different styles have different kinds of effects on the reader, and may play better or worse with the kind of content you’re trying to express. I try to think about what effect I’m having and what effect I’m trying to create, and then I usually spend a lot of time with the sentence-level language to make sure that it’s doing what I want it to.

Dawn: What do you find most challenging about fiction – the language, plot, characters, world-building or something else?

Rachel: That depends on the story. I probably spend more time on language than on anything else, but I don’t tend to find it challenging, per se.

I don’t feel like I have a lot of problems understanding characters, although relaying that understanding on the page is a different challenge.

I tend to come into stories with plot arcs I already understand, but sometimes the exact process of how to show the characters getting from 60% of the way through the story to 80% can be very difficult for me. Beginnings, early middles, and endings are easy–it’s that latter middle part of the arc which seems to sag. I don’t even want to know what that’s going to be like on a 100,000-word novel instead of a 2,000- to 10,000-word short story.

I wish I was better at dialogue. I think I write dialogue decently enough, but when you read the work of someone who really has an ear for it, it can be this astonishing, amazing thing. Andy Duncan captures people’s speech in ways that feel dynamic, fresh, novel, and totally real–he writes the dialogue equivalent of surprising yet inevitable endings. His dialogue is a small, focused, surprise–but then you realize the character could never speak any other way.

You can read stories and poetry by Rachel Swirsky at:

Tor.com
Subterranean Magazine
Fantasy Magazine
Weird Tales
Beneath Ceaseless Skies

Find out more at RachelSwirsky.com

I also really wish I could do tight, focused plotting — the kinds of plots you find in farces or murder mysteries. I’ve been watching episodes of Coupling and Doctor Who by Steven Moffat, and he hits the plot points with just the right amount of precision and wit, with never a wasted word. I want to know how to do that.

Weaving with Words: Writing 101

writing, weaving, words, story, writing tips, freelance

Writing is like weaving
– from the beginning
to the end!

Our words glide across the page and then we hit enter and move down. We scroll back up and take note of what we’ve written; we scroll back down and finish our thoughts. We move all across the page: up, down, back and forth – all the while we are weaving a story. The pieces, colors, and vibrant picture are moving vividly through our mind, body, and soul.

As we gaze intensely at the computer screen – or our notebook – we are filling the blank page with words, ideas, wisdom, information; we are filling the blank page with our heart and soul.

Some of you weave with dark yarns (aka words), smearing mystical creatures, blood-spilled mysteries, and murderous intent on to the blank page. Others splash colorful hues of passion-filled romance, wild and dangerous affairs, and tug at the hearts of those craving love (or lust!) – leaving them satisfied, yet yearning for more. And there are those of us who choose to share inspiration, motivation, encouragement, and non-fiction information that will leave the reader a little wiser – and more optimistic- than they came.

We writers purge not only our creative minds with our readers, but our hearts as well. We ultimately give the world a piece of ourselves in every page, every word, every article, story, or book. With every word we type (or write), we are weaving…

Weaving When Words Won’t Wake

  1. Begin at the end and weave your way back. If the first words won’t come to you for the beginning of your story, think about how you want the piece to end.
  2. Start with the title. Take a few minutes to find a working title. Think about what you want to say in your piece and create a title from those ideas.
  3. Jump in to the middle. Who says you have to start at the beginning – or even the end? Throw yourself in to the middle of the story and weave your way up and back down (or vice-versa)!
  4. Go easy on yourself and weave an outline. Sometimes you need an outline. I find them especially helpful on most of my work.
  5. Take a break and create a Wordle. They’re fun, and they’re sure to help you get your weave on!

There aren’t any rules set in stone of how you should weave your stories. Words usually come naturally if you nurture your creativity and treat your body well. Yes, there are dry spells in every writer’s life at some point, but if you follow the tips above, it will help you find inspiration once again.

Your work will be much richer, much more beautiful, if you allow yourself to be vulnerable enough that your heart and soul bleeds in to each and every word you weave.

Did you enjoy this article? Feel free to visit the other articles Michele has written for Writer’s Round-About–or contact her to write for you.

How do you weave your words? Similar to me, or different? Do you apply any of these techniques to your own writing? Do you have any weaving tips to share with us? We’d love to hear from you; please join in – or start – the conversation!

Reference: Wordle.net

A Time To Be Thankful

While the U.S. celebrates a remarkable moment in their history, Thankgiving offers an opportunity for everyone around the world to remember the importance of gratitude. For what are you most thankful?

With just a few weeks of school before the holiday season is truly upon us I look around myself today and appreciate the true wonders and joy in my life. From the smiling faces of my children and the tight knit of my loving family to the simpler things like food on our table and a roof over our heads. There are so many things to be grateful for in each and every day.

As writers, we are gifted with expressive voice. Every word we place on the page has meaning and purpose, each sentence expresses an idea. Every story we tell, be it fiction or non-fiction, has a message, something rich and meaningful that our readers take with them when the story is read. Consider, as the holidays approach, including the message of gratitude in your writing.

How can we express gratitude in every moment? Begin, by being truly thankful for the opportunity to be who you are, a writer. Your gift is unique and precious. I give thanks that we might share our gifts with each other.

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.