Masks Guests Wear To Your Story’s Masquerade Ball

Mask Of The Masquerade

“The most important kind of freedom
is to be what you really are
You trade in your reality for a role
You give up your ability to feel…
and in exchange…
put on a mask.”
~ Jim Morrison

To be honest, when the Absolute Write Blog Chain regulars were talking topics for this month, I loved the Halloween concept. Ideas immediately leapt to mind. I instantly knew how I could relate All Hallow’s Eve to the craft of writing fiction. But, Halloween is not this month’s theme. Instead, I stare glumly at the word “Masquerade” and wonder, “What can I do with that?”

Say hello to my friend, Writer’s Block. There are many causes but the one that tangled me up is: lack of direction. To move forward we each need to see into the darkness ahead. We must unmask the handsome stranger who is our story (or blog post) because while he is hidden behind a mask he is distant and insubstantial. And THERE it is. The connection between Masquerades and writing.

No matter where you find the source of your idea waterfall, be it a dazzling Muse-moment, or a keyword prompt from your writing community (or client), a story begins like a masquerade ball. The invitations were sent, the catering prepared, the music sets the beat, and we wait for guests to arrive. Without the guests the party is a dismal flop. The guests bring the character and plot to every event.

As the first guests arrive, either in your first paragraph for a pantser, or, planner, as you begin to brainstorm and take notes, you meet their mysterious masked faces. Their trues selves are foreshadowed by the mask they wear. They are hidden beneath lies and half-truths. They exist as something other than who they really are.

We all wear masks, don’t we? We have a face for every situation. We wear the “Mother Lion”, or the “Capable Worker”, or the “Talented Writer” mask and we change our mask as frequently as we change our hats. The elements of our stories wear their masks too. These masks are an illusion. They hide the depth and substance of the person beneath.

Just as a person is never a single mask, owning many, our plot and characters are multi-layered. Life is not simple. It was never meant to be. Life is a song, a story, deep and complicated. The best stories reveal each facet slowly, with sultry looks and edge of the seat anticipation. Mask by mask we reveal the strange creature beneath.

As the Masquerade Ball of your story swells, the room fills with masked strangers. They are freer because of their anonymity. They act and speak with a closer connection to their true selves because they are not themselves. Our story is truer too, before it is fully revealed to us, which is perhaps why it can destroy our motivation if we plan too finitely, but, to uncover the core, to see the final and one true face of our story, we must peel back those layers and discover the intricate characters and plot beneath the surface.

How do you remove the masks of your story? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Check out other great posts from Absolute Write’s October “Masquerade” Blog Chain:

Masks by pareeerica

Image Credit: * Wearing The Mask * by pareerica
Image Credit: S2 Wraps Blends by pareeerica

Talent Casting: Audition Your Fiction Character

Selecting the talent. Casting the fiction characters of your story.Writing fiction is sometimes about finding the right talent, casting the right fiction character for the role, or creating a cast of rich and multi-dimensional personalities. There are a number of character creation methods and each writer learns their most effective character development tools through research and experience. My own process continues to grow and develop as my writing grows up.

Click here to get your copy of James Chartrand and Taylor Lindstrom's How to Create Believable CharactersA few months ago I bought myself a clever e-book called “How to Create Believable Characters” by James Chartrand and Taylor Lindstrom. It’s packed with practical information on how to build your very own fiction character, or role-playing alter-ego, from scratch. I read it eagerly, already fascinated with character development and creation.

As I read, I drank in every piece of advice it offered. I gained a better understanding of why I write the way I write and I improved my character creation skills. I learned how to choose and create talent; casting the “right” protagonist for each fiction story.

There are two “schools” when writing fiction. One is a “plot-driven” story where you develop an intense plot, a situation into which you place characters. I am in the other “school”, a writer who discovers a protagonist first and then writes a plot that gives that star her life and purpose. This is a ‘character-driven’ story. Can you think of any “character-driven stories” you’ve read recently?

Who is she?

When I first decide to write a new story, I visualize my heroine. Most of the time it’s a ‘she’, simply because I’m used to thinking like a girl. I do know female writers who prefer to write male characters (and do a fantastic job of it too) but for some reason I prefer writing women.

My heroine may be young or old, clever, stupid, pretty, dull… I spend some time trying to get to know her. I don’t decide ‘how she is’ instead, I get a feel for ‘who she is’.

Who is your protagonist?There are some elements I decide up front. Is she stubborn, or reckless, or depressed? I follow my instincts and she becomes whatever most sparks my interest at that time.

Other aspects come naturally as I continue to think about her. It might fit her to be afraid of dogs; maybe she is a school teacher. Does she have any particular talent casting her into the spotlight? Is she likely to go for the bad boy type, or does she prefer the office underdog. (Oh, perhaps she would usually go for the bad boy type but falls for the office underdog!)

Becoming Herself

After developing my protagonist’s traits and personality, I give my fiction character a life. Some of her past was determined earlier in the character creation process. Now it is time to explore her history and to decide what has happened to shape her into the person she is. Plot elements begin to emerge as her life takes form.

Here’s where it gets tricky. After the fun of writing, planning, and mapping out my heroine’s intriguing story, I notice aspects of her that no longer “fit”. As I focus on plot development I sometimes find that, this protagonist isn’t right for this plot.

Why not add that lacking ‘something’ to my original character? That would be the obvious and easy way to fix my dilemma, wouldn’t it? Couldn’t we force her to be what we want, gift her with that particular skill or talent? Casting her into a role that doesn’t suit her, however, is not a simple solution.

My characters become “real” the minute I start developing them, which means they have their own faults, traits, and personality. They are imperfect in a carefully balanced way – each and every one is unique.

Giving my heroine a new flaw or quality, just because the plot calls for it and not because it feels a part of her, causes her to lose that sense of being “real”. It makes her thin, stiff, two-dimensional; the organic creation process has been broken.

(There is of course another side to this. The needed flaw or quality could be a part of her in-story development or personal development goals… But that is for another post.)

It’s Talent Casting Time!

Now, I have this great story, all lined up for exploring and turning into a masterpiece, but my protagonist just isn’t right for the part. Do I scratch it and start over? No way!

I do a talent casting call.

I have tons of talent on hold that got dumped from other stories because they didn’t fit. Are any of them perfect for this role? If none of those characters are suitable, I think about which traits this protagonist needs and make that aspect a starting point for a new rising star.

By now I’ve changed the story several times and every time I do another call. I change the story a little for every character. After auditioning many people for the job they have all influenced the final story and add to it’s richness and depth.

Once I’ve my found leading lady, I can begin talent casting the supporting roles.

While this method can be time consuming in the early planning stages of fiction writing, the outcome is a full cast of strong characters I know and understand like old friends. They are the “right” characters for their specific role and are a good fit for the story. The writing process becomes easier because I’m no longer struggling with uncooperative, pigeon-holed characters. Now, when I’m writing fiction, I don´t “decide” my character likes or does things, I “know” she does.

The Final Curtain Call

In the end, my story becomes both plot-driven and character-driven. It is packed with a powerful selection of multi-dimensional, realistic personalities. The cast of characters live their own lives and I record it rather than control it.

Have you tried talent casting your characters? What other methods have you used to develop the star of your story?

Click here to get your copy of James Chartrand and Taylor Lindstrom's How to Create Believable Characters

Photo Credit: 01-12-10 © John-Francis Bourke
Photo Credit: 04-10-07 © Sean Locke

25 Ways To Work Creative Play Into Your Life

Work Creative Play Into Your Life!Writers in general, and novelists in particular, are creative people, but it can be difficult to find time for creative play when you’re faced with deadlines (even if you’re the one setting them), and everything else you have going on in your life. Here are twenty-five ways you can find time for creative play that will help you keep the ideas coming for your fiction writing.

  1. Schedule time for creativity.
  2. If your projects allow, create in the car while you’re waiting on your kids at ball practice.
  3. Plan your projects for creative play in short bursts of time so you will have time to make progress.
  4. Get up 30 minutes or so early.
  5. Go to bed 30 minutes or so later.
  6. Work on your favorite project on your lunch hour.
  7. If you have a day job and if your project allows, go in to work 30 minutes or so early to work on it.
  8. Stay at work 30 minutes or so late to work on it. (This has the added benefit of helping you miss the worst of rush hour.)
  9. Take advantage of built-in holidays and devote those days to your creative project(s).
  10. Take a look at how much TV you watch in the evenings. Cut out a program or two to free up time for creative play.
  11. Practice delayed creative play. If you’re in the car or at work and can’t stop to work on your project, make notes to yourself so you don’t lose the inspiration/idea when you have time later.
  12. If you can’t make notes (such as if you’re driving), use a digital voice recorder or the voice record option on your mobile phone to leave verbal notes for yourself.
  13. Or, call your house and leave a message on your answering machine.
  14. Keep a notebook & pen by your bed to jot down ideas in the middle of the night and remember to work on them the next day.
  15. Keep a notebook and pen in the bathroom to write down ideas that come to you in the shower and remember to work on them later in the day (or the next day, if you shower in the evening).
  16. On weekends or when school is out, put a movie in for your kids and use that time to work on your creative projects.
  17. Write while your kids play at the park!

  18. When the weather is nice and you have a transportable project, take your kids to the park and spend that time working on your project (while also, of course, keeping an eye on the kids).
  19. If your kids are small and take naps, use their nap time to work on your creative projects.
  20. Invest in your creative projects. When you spend money on something, you generally hate to feel like it’s wasted, so you make time to use the supplies you’ve bought.
  21. Instead of turning the TV on, put a music CD in or turn on your iPod with motivational music (whatever you find motivational, whether rock or classical or country) and work on your creative project while it plays.
  22. Start a blog to talk about your progress on your creative projects. You probably won’t like going too long without posting an update with actual progress, so you’ll be more motivated to work on it.
  23. Take pictures of your progress to post to your blog as additional motivation.
  24. Find a group of like-minded people that meets regularly. Meetings require updates, which will also get you working on your creative projects.
  25. Join an online community (like The Craft or Writing Fiction!) devoted to your area of creativity and answer questions about technique. Talking about what you do and how you did it motivates you to keep doing it.
  26. Give yourself deadlines that you have to meet. You schedule time to work on projects with deadlines. Give your creative play the same level of importance.

Yes, some of these tips are silly. The idea is that you should make time (and you can find time if you really look for it) for creative play and you’ll be surprised at how helpful it can be for you.

How do you find time to play or write creatively? What other ideas would you add to this list?

Photo Credit: 03-13-08 © YinYang
Photo Credit: 06-14-10 © Morten Heiselberg

Finding New Inspiration: First Words and Beyond

Words, words, and more words…. They float around in our heads – until our brains feel like mush. At least, mind does (sometimes).

freelance, creative, muse, writing, inspiration, first words, Wordle

But there are also times that our brains look like a vast, white space. And no matter how hard we try to tap into our inner muse; no matter how many different techniques we use, we can’t seem to find those perfect first words. Sometimes, it seems, the only words that come to mind are: contract, deadline, SEO, or even bills.

I mentioned my lack of words on a social media media site a while back and got the following response:

“Start out writing your name, address and a description of the room in which you’re writing. I wrote a newspaper column for nearly 20 years. I’m very practiced in breaking up log-jams in the writerly brain. Just remember, there’s a torrent just behind that dam!” – K. C. Compton (Editor, at Ogden Publications)

Excellent advice, K.C.! (Of course, I guess that’s why she is one of the Editor’s-In-Chief for Ogden Publications, huh?)

It’s during the times that we’re grasping desperately for words – any word – that we can apply the following tips, as well as K.C.’s advice.

7 Surefire Ways to Find New Words

  1. Grab a notebook and start writing a list. This list can be about anything: your dreams,  pros and cons of something you’ve been considering, maintenance or other projects for your house – even a grocery list.
  2. Take a break and play Scrabble. What better way to enjoy some time – and company – than being hands-on with letters and words?!
  3. Write a thank you note or friendly letter to someone. Think warm thoughts and share your heart with the recipient.
  4. Email or IM a friend. If that friend is a writer, that’s even better. They can help lift your spirits and jog your memory about past times you’ve had abundant writing inspiration.
  5. Read your favorite blog or a few pages from a book that’s nearby. Words from one of your favorite authors/bloggers will help get your creative juices flowing.
  6. Get up from your computer and go in to another room or outside. It’s amazing how much difference a view makes. By simply stepping in to the next room or popping outside for a few minutes, you can refuel your mind. Look at old photos or sit on your porch or deck for a spell – absorb your surroundings and soak up the inspiration life brings!
  7. Pamper yourself. Something like a cup of hot tea and your favorite magazine, a 20-minute soak in a warm bath sprinkled with lavender essential oil or bath salts, or a short nap can provide just the amount of rejuvenation your body needs to crank up your muse once again.

What do you do to find new words when your writing well has run dry? Do you stand beneath the idea waterfall? Or use any of the tips I shared above? Do you have a fabulous technique to share with us? Chime in!

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.

Photo Credit: Wordle, created by Michele Tune

New Beginnings And WRA’s Theme Tweaks

What have you learned from the past that allows you to create a new beginning in 2010? January is a great time for new beginnings and this month I’d like to introduce “beginnings” as a theme.

In November 2009, Web Betty gave Writer’s Round-About an excellent technical review. She corroborated some ideas I had for changes I wanted to make to the blog theme. Today, I launch WRA’s tweaked theme, version 2.0, and I’d love to know what you think about the changes. What do you like? What do you hate? Do you have suggestions for things you’d like to see done differently?

Launching a new version of the WRA Theme is just one of the “beginnings” we’ll see on Writer’s Round-About this month. Later in the month we’ll share posts that relate to how beginnings affect us as writers, from how to find those first words that begin a new story or article, to how our beginnings, our headlines, our hooks, our opening paragraphs, impact the way readers interact with our content.

What comes to mind when you think of beginnings as a writer? Write about it and then consider beginning 2010 as a WRA contributor where you can share your writing with other freelancers from beginning to end?

Simple Saviors: The Notebook and Pen

Notebook and Pen: Keep Writing, Anywhere, Anytime.Moving doesn’t always happen smoothly. Maintaining your writing during one of the most stressful times of your life is challenging. Ideas for articles come in many forms, this one is no different. Fortunately, the idea wasn’t lost because I took the opportunity to jot down a few thoughts before they left indefinitely.

Some of the most stressful times in a person’s life are moving, death, births, divorces, and weddings. All of those events are life altering. It is possible to write during those periods, even if the writing doesn’t produce an article at that exact moment. Recording your ideas becomes a necessary step to include with any major change in your life.

While undergoing any life changing time in your life, keep a notebook and pen with you at all times. The notebook doesn’t have to be fancy or large. A simple flip pad will do – and can fit in the back pocket of your jeans. Along side that notebook, keep a pen or pencil handy to scribble away ideas, thoughts, emotions or bits of conversation. After the words are scribbled, put the notebook away until you need it again.

When life has settled down and routine becomes familiar, you can pull out that same notebook and refer back to the pages. The mind is incredible, once you place words onto the page, you naturally recall the moment and everything associated to it. You will hear voices of dialogue, expressions on faces, emotions within, and, perhaps most importantly, the words played in your mind.

Make time to write, even when life is unsettled and routines unfamiliar.Ah, yes, those words. They are the ones that create the characters of a novel, a poem about the beautiful sky, and the article you’ve promised to write for an editor on the other end of a paycheck. With just a few simple words on a piece of paper, you will be capable of recalling all the information you need to complete that looming assignment or resume the novel that had you stuck.

It is a simple exercise that takes a bit of practice to master. Nurture your Muse by writing down all the words she supplies you. When it comes time to work through a challenging time in your life, your Muse will be kind to you. Chronicle your thoughts and ideas and begin learning how to recall the information she provided when the idea originally popped.

I’ll never go without my notebook and pen. You could say that they saved my tail during my most recent move. How has your notebook and pen saved you? Do you prefer a certain style of notebook or type of pen? What do you love most about your favorite notebook and pen?

Stock up on notebooks and pens!

Where Does Creativity Come From?

In the video below, Elizabeth Gilbert, author of “Eat, Pray, Love“, shares the greatest rule for artistic success, Show Up For The Job!

As writers, we struggle against inspiration and creativity but can we truly know the source of insight and ideas? Our job is to show up, hands on keys or pen on page, be there, each day and perform the act of writing; participate in the process. We can’t control the quality of our creativity, we can’t control how receptive to our thoughts readers will be or which novel makes it to the best seller lists and which don’t. Our part of the process is to show up at the keyboard and get the words on the page.

Listen as Elizabeth discusses the importance of nurturing creativity and trusting the “genius” that exists outside of ourselves, and in putting aside fear to do the job.

What are your thoughts about what Elizabeth has shared? Do you feel creativity is an external power? Where do you think your own creativity comes from?

Writers Are Superheroes

Superhero capeWhat is a superhero? Let’s see what Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary has to say:

Main Entry: su·per·hero
Pronunciation: \-ˌhir-(ˌ)ō, -ˌhē-(ˌ)rō\
Function: noun
Date: 1917

: a fictional hero having extraordinary or superhuman powers; also : an exceptionally skillful or successful person


: “an exceptionally skillful or successful person”!

So, you see, Superman, Spiderman, and Wonder Woman aren’t the only ones who can whirl around like magic, whipping themselves into their alter ego and race off in a flash to save the day!

We, as writers and bloggers, are (in a sense) superheroes, too. I mean, without talented and creative professional writers, what would the world read? Can you imagine if all that was available to read were books and articles filled with grammar and spelling errors? And what if movies were based on that writing? What if you had to sit through movie after movie sprinkled full of incorrect dialogue and super boring plots? (Okay, so that happens already, but what if it was worse?!) Wouldn’t the literary world be such a bummer if that were our reality?!

Living Like a Superhero

Seriously, though, have you ever been interrupted by your Muse while having a phone conversation, during a dinner date, or even at a party? You know the scenario: You’re chatting away, laughing and having a blast and then it happens: Your beloved, highly-sought-after, well-respected Muse strikes you like a bolt of lightning with an idea so fabulous you’re tempted to say “Hold that thought, I’ll be right back” so you can escape to don your Writer’s Superhero Cape and dash off into the night to save that story idea, right? Or, maybe you’ve done just that. You’ve cut a phone call short or excused yourself for a restroom break so you can jot that idea down on a napkin, or even the palm of your hand!

I’ve been there. I’m often visited by my Muse at the most inconvenient times. For example, the idea for this very article struck me in the shower this morning! Yes, that’s right. Who knew Muses were so persistent they wouldn’t even let you wash in peace?! Hmmm…. Talk about standing beneath the Idea Waterfall!

Act Like a Superhero

I should be used to it by now, really. Sometimes I’m too tired to make a mad dash for the laptop or notebook and write down my Muse’s sweet whispers. Other times, I’ll break my neck (figuratively speaking, of course!) to find the nearest notebook and pen. Yes, there have been (many) times I forgot the idea(s). It’s like they went in one ear and out the other, never to be whispered again. But, for the most part, I’m usually pretty quick at catching those whispers in one of the many cobwebbed corners of my brain and documenting them. Some are still sitting there, waiting to be birthed into stories. The rest have been used in one way or another.

Want to be a Writing Superhero, too? Grab a cape and join me!

Seven Superhero Writing Tips

  1. Keep a small notebook and pen with you wherever you go.
  2. Always carry your camera. (Sometimes the Muse doesn’t talk, she points!)
  3. Don’t be lazy! Get up out of bed and write those ideas down!
  4. If you don’t have a notebook (like in my case with this article idea, I was in the shower), repeat the idea – or title, which is what came to me first with this article – over and over until you can find something to write on.
  5. Tune in to your sensitive writer’s ears. Learn to listen carefully for your Muse’s soft voice, you never know when they’ll swish right past you for a quick idea-filled visit!
  6. Don’t be afraid to take a minute to write something down, no matter where you are. You are, after all, a professional writer and you have to take notes for your business!
  7. And don’t forget to pack your cape like any good superhero does. You must be prepared for emergencies. 😉

Did you enjoy this article? Feel free to visit the other articles Michele has written for The Craft of Writing Fiction.

So, how does it feel to be a superhero? Have you ever thought of yourself as a superhero? Have you ever dashed off like Superman (or Wonder Woman) in a desperate effort to salvage your idea? What were the results? Published articles, books, plays, blogs? Or maybe it was a novel idea or finished book you have stuffed away in a drawer collecting dust instead of money and a byline…. Take your cape off for a while and share your superhero adventures. We want to hear all about them!

Photo – julostock

F-O-C-U-S on Writing Part IV

To refresh, we’ve discussed Finding Time, Obliterating Distractions and Creating Ideas thus far in F-O-C-U-S on Writing.  In this segment, we discuss understanding your responsibilities as a writer.

While we would all love to just sit down and write what we love and be paid, there is more that goes into running a business as a writer.  All the muck boils down to responsibility. As with any business, there are key factors in determining one’s success.  For writers, verifying facts, marketing, continuing eduction and continued follow-up are not only necessary, they’re vital!

I sent off a 2000 word article to a regional parenting magazine, utilizing quotes from a therapist throughout.  Once I completed the article, I emailed it to the therapist I quoted for her to double check the information she provided, assuring that the statements were not only correct, but maintained proper context in the piece.  Through conversations with the editor, she needed necessary information to ensure that the information was factual.  Without hesitating, I was able to offer up the therapists name, email address and a copy of our conversation that was held via yahoo messenger.  That information and the editor’s ability to double check the information quoted made the difference between a paycheck and the article being cast aside.

For all writers who utilize quotes in pieces they create, maintaining accurate and updated information on facts and their sources is necessary.  If you resell a piece to a different magazine, the editor might take you at your word, but there will always be the ones who need to verify information prior to running the piece.  With every article that has sources cited, either through research or interview, keep a separate folder with email address, phone number, physical address as well as copies of electronic communication.  Down the road, there won’t be any problems offering that same information to another editor should you resell.

In the age of web 2.0, marketing is around everywhere you surf.  Marketing yourself as a guest or collaborative blogger, partaking in various social networking sites such as facebook, twitter, plurk and maintaining an interactive website of your own are all elements of web 2.0.  For every writer, establishing yourself and offering not only links to work you’ve done, but sharing information about who you are is a fabulous way to receive recognition.  The question many ask when considering personal information on the Internet is, “How much is too much?”  Every person has their own views and that is up to your digression.

Continuing your education as a writer doesn’t necessarily mean spending many hours at the local college taking courses.  If you have the time to take a refresher course on grammar, go for it.  Outside of collegiate courses, reading books, going to seminars and researching various aspects associated with writing all add to your ability to write more effectively.  Writing effectively and efficiently is one responsibility no writer should veer from.

Continued follow-up with agents, publishers, editors and fellow writers is another responsibility we mustn’t forget.  As we all know, life can become crazy.  It’s no different for people who hold high positions in the writing field.  If you’ve mailed off a manuscript to an agent per their request or an article to an editor and haven’t heard from them in a while, it’s a good idea to sent a card, letter or make a phone call to touch base.  Knowing where key people stand in correlation to your work will help you to receive a continued stream of income.

What other responsibilities do you find in your day to day work as a writer?

Coming up is the final installment of F-O-C-U-S on Writing, Streamline Organization.

F-O-C-U-S on Writing Part III

To recap Focus on Writing thus far, we have discussed Finding Time and Obliterating Distractions.  In segment three, we will examine influences and inspirational tools to create ideas, to write.

For every writer, creating ideas can often lead to brainstorming blockages.  When creativity stops flowing, writing becomes one of the most challenging aspects of a freelancer’s job.  By adjusting how we look at the world and utilizing tools available, generating ideas becomes a natural part of the daily process.  Simulating the senses is key.

As a writer, I reach for very specific tools to increase creativity: books, movies, music, nature and people.

Books offer an entirely new world from cover to cover.  When I read fictional books, I’m carried away into a different land – forced to experience new emotions and visuals – all in my mind.  I have picked up many books in my life that were less than desirable reads, but quickly learned to continue reading the story instead of closing the cover and reaching for another.  By looking at the book as a learning tool, I’m able to see the author’s means of constructing sentences, images and emotions.  Often times I will come across a word that I don’t know and stop long enough to discover the meaning.

Movies are similar to books in whisking you away to another time and place.  Watching actors and actresses convey emotion in their faces offers a new description for the characters in a story you write.  Taking time to delve completely into any character of your choosing will ignite emotions in yourself that may not have been felt for many years.  Utilizing those emotions to rekindle memories brings a new dimension for ideas.

Music can speak to the soul.  Riffs and melodies carefully construed will send a surge through your body from head to toe.  Carried in that surge are ideas pertaining to the overall feeling a song has offered.  Blasting the radio to 50’s and 60’s music elicits memories of road trips from my childhood.  Descriptive scenes and ideas come flooding with the memories.  Each word that pops into my mind is written down for reference later.

Nature is an amazing source of inspirational ideas.  Walking along a stream, ocean or in the mountains provides a completely new dimension and experience for your mind.  Breaking away from the monotony of life is a means to break any blockages or lack of inspiration you might feel.  With any trip outside your home, carrying a pen and paper or digital recorder is necessary to jot ideas as they come.

People watching is an incredible art.  Sitting in a crowded coffee shop with conversations all around can’t be beat.  As people interact and their conversations pass through your ears, certain words or phrases can catch you off guard and offer one more opportunity to create.  The young couple in the back discuss their pending trip to Europe, a truck driver a few chairs away talks about the loneliness of the road and the waitress behind the counter shares with coworkers that she’s moving across country to marry her Internet romance…

By observing the world with your senses, you will find that creating ideas comes with ease.  Recognizing and writing everything down becomes the challenge.  Fiction and non-fiction both stem from the world around us.  How are you going to see the world around you?

Where do you find or create ideas for your writing?