A Thousand Words: Totally Wow!

Creative Commons image by Ben Ferenchak on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

A Thousand Words is a photo prompt posted every Sunday.  Maybe the image will inspire you to write a short story, a poem, or a blog post.  Maybe it will inspire you to get happy and excited, really, really excited about something. Whatever your response, I hope the picture inspires you to some sort of creative zen, and that you enjoy the hell out of it.

If you write something based on the image, feel free to share a link in the comments section.   Also feel free to use the photo on your blog, just be sure to give proper credit, which I will always include in the post or the caption.

Resources: Creative Commons, Flickr, The Daily Post

Baths, Books, Rules: Authors Share Their Inspiration

Writers Recommend is an online exclusive at Poets & Writers that asks authors:

“What Inspires You?”

For Heather Sellers, author of “You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know” (Riverhead Books, 2010), it’s a bath, a pile of magazines, lavender oil, and as much time as she needs.

Aimee Bender, author of “The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake” (Doubleday, 2010) says, “Rules. I’m a big believer in structure, and the idea that creativity loosens up when constrained a bit.

Stuart O’Nan, author of 14 novels, reads pages from his favorite book.

With responses from more than 100 authors, the answers are as varied as these three examples, yet there are a lot of similarities, too.  To read all the responses, and find some inspiration of your own, read  Writers Recommend from Poets & Writers.

Resources: Poets & Writers, The Daily Post.

The Power of Pop-Up

Peter Dahmen sculpts with paper.  He turns the flat, relatively mundane, everyday item into 3-D forms that fold up, reach out, curve over, bend under, and swirl around. The effect is phenomenal.

After watching the sculptures come to life in this video, it’s hard to imagine they are made from plain old paper.  Once again, I’m inspired by the power of the creative mind and the commitment it takes for artists to bring their ideas to life.

If you’re feeling very ambitious, there’s a tutorial.  I suppose creating something like this, with the planning and modeling already done, is a possibility, but just watching the process shows how much detail goes into each sculpture, even one as small as this.

Resources: Peter Dahmen, The Daily Post.

Silent Writers’ Prompts and 67 Reminders

The weekly Silent Writers online writing retreat will be held tonight at 9 pm EST.  All writers are invited to participate, but those who find it difficult to put distractions aside and make the time to write will find it especially useful.  Writing for a specific and set amount of time on a consistent basis is not only satisfying, it improves skills and helps build a rewarding writing life.

To participate,  join in tonight at 9 EST on Twitter or Facebook.  You can work on your own project or use one of the writing exercises below.

If you can’t join in, but need a motivation boost to take with you, read 67 Things to Remember When Writing by Cristin Terrill on her blog Incidents & Accidents. She says, it’s a “small checklist of common advice to keep in mind when writing a novel so that you don’t make a total mess of things.”  The list is a semi-serious, semi-jokey compilation with an important message at the end.

Now, on to the prompts:

  1. From PW.org:Fiction and Poetry prompts
  2. From Verbal VerbosityThe 100 Words Challenge Prompt
  3. From me: A photo prompt, “Free Realms”
  4. From Mama’s Losin’ ItFive Writing Prompts
  5. From @Selorian on Twitter:#storystarters
  6. From Plinky: Quickie questions to ponder

For more information on tonight’s retreat, visit the Silent Writers Collective.

Resources: Incidents & Accidents. Simon Howden portfolio, The Daily Post

Monday Motivator: Steve Wozniak’s Apple I

“Even if you do something
that others might consider wrong,
you should at least be willing to talk about it
and tell your parents what you’re doing
because you believe it’s right.”
— Steve “Woz” Wozniak
Designed and hand-built the first Apple computer

Apple I On display at the Smithsonian
Apple I computer, created April 11, 1976.

The Apple I Computer was Apple’s first product.  It was designed and hand-built by Steve Wozniak, and sold by his friend Steve Jobs.

Woz and Jobs initially built 50 computers and sold them at a local computer store for $666.66 each.  They sold every one.  In total, about 200 Apple I Computers were built, but they quickly became obsolete.

Inspired by their success, Woz designed the Apple II less than a year later, and it went on to become one of the great computer successes of all time.

The Apple I still fares pretty well, though.  In November 2010, an Apple I sold for $212,267 at Christie’s auction house in London.  It is the highest price paid for this model so far.

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The Monday Motivator is a quote posted each week to encourage, inspire, and motivate writers of all skill levels and across genres.  If you have a favorite quote to share, let me know and I’ll post it here.  Click here to see past Monday Motivators.

Resources: Apple, The Daily Post

A Thousand Words: Free Realms

Creative Commons image by Christopher Cornelius on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

A Thousand Words is a photo prompt posted every Sunday.  Maybe the image will inspire you to write a short story, a poem, or a blog post.  Whatever your response, I hope the picture inspires you to some sort of creative zen.

If you write something based on the image, feel free to share a link in the comments section.   Also feel free to use the photo on your blog, just be sure to give proper credit, which I will always include in the post or the caption.

Resources: Creative Commons, Flickr, The Daily Post

On the Path to “Beautifully Written”

Yesterday at Writer Unboxed, the title of a post by author and literary agent Donald Maass caught my attention.

“Beautifully Written.”

When I worked at a literary agency, we used those two words to describe many of the books we represented, both fiction and non-fiction.  Though it may sound cliché, it wasn’t.  In order to represent a book, we had to feel that it truly was beautifully written.

Defining something as subjective as beautifully written makes me think of Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s now famous quote on pornography.  He said he could never intelligibly define it, but “I know it when I see it.”

That’s how I feel about beautiful writing.  I have a hard time defining it, but I know it when I see it.  Mr. Maass does better.  He says, “For me, beautifully written has come to be not just a nice extra (when you get it) but a critical component of high-impact fiction.”

In my comment on the post, I wrote that my writing goals are 1) To complete my novel, and 2) Finish with a completed novel that is beautifully written.  Sometimes it feels like those goals clash and my frustration builds. When that happens, I need to pull back and remember that “finished” and “beautifully written” are one in the same for me.

Guidance like that found in Mr. Maass’s post will help in reaching my goals.  In his new series on Writer Unboxed, he will be discussing the ways in which novels can be beautifully written, starting with creating parallels.

To read the post, visit Writer Unboxed » Beautifully Written.

Resources: Writer Unboxed, Donald Maass, The Daily Post


Finding the Time to Write (Silent or Not)

One of the toughest challenges in writing is finding the time to sit down and do it.  If “time” is not the issue, maybe it’s myriad distractions (laundry, facebook, Will & Grace reruns, email, etc.) that pull you away.

Five Tips for Finding Writing Time on copyblogger.com offers helpful insight not only on finding time, but on making that time productive once you’re in the chair and ready to get started.

The Silent Writers online writing retreat is another useful tool.  Every Tuesday at 9 pm EST, writers who find it difficult making time to write join together for an hour of silent writing. Writing for a specific and set amount of time is not only satisfying, it helps in building a consistent and rewarding writing life.

The retreat is open to all writers, but it was created especially for those who find it hard to put aside distractions for their craft.  To participate,  join us tonight at 9 EST on Twitter or Facebook.

You can work on your own project or use one of the writing exercises below.

  1. From PW.org:Fiction and Poetry prompts
  2. From Verbal VerbosityThe 100 Words Challenge Prompt
  3. From me: A photo prompt, “Tag Along”
  4. From Mama’s Losin’ ItFive Writing Prompts
  5. From @Selorian on Twitter:#storystarters
  6. From Plinky: Quickie questions to ponder

The 9 pm PST retreat is open by request.  If you’re interested in this session, please leave a comment here.

For more information on tonight’s retreat, visit the Silent Writers Collective.

Resources: copyblogger. Luigi Diamonte portfolio, The Daily Post

Monday Motivator: Muddy Waters

“My grandmother, she say
I shouldn’t be playing.
I should go to church.
Finally, I say
‘I’m going do this, I’m going do it.’
And she got where
she didn’t bother me
about it.”
— Muddy Waters

Muddy Waters, born McKinley Morganfield on April 4, 1913, used his meager sharecropper wages to buy his first guitar when he was 17,  and he taught himself to play.  Today he is considered the father of modern Chicago blues, but his influence reaches far beyond that and into folk, jazz, country, and especially rock ‘n’ roll.

  • He helped Chuck Berry get his first recording contract.
  • The Rolling Stones named themselves after Mr. Waters’ song “Rollin’ Stone.”
  • Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love”, is based on the hit “You Need Love.”

For a little taste of the voice, the guitar, the harmonica, and the power, watch Muddy Waters perform “Manish Boy.”

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The Monday Motivator is a quote posted each week to encourage, inspire, and motivate writers of all skill levels and across genres.  If you have a favorite quote to share, let me know and I’ll post it here.  Click here to see past Monday Motivators.

Resources: The Official Muddy Waters Website,The Daily Post

A Thousand Words: Tag Along

Creative Commons image by Michael.Matuzak on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

A Thousand Words is a photo prompt posted every Sunday.  Maybe the image will inspire you to write a short story, a poem, or a blog post.  Whatever your response, I hope the picture inspires you to some sort of creative zen.

If you write something based on the image, feel free to share a link in the comments section.   Also feel free to use the photo on your blog, just be sure to give proper credit, which I will always include in the post or the caption.

Resources: Creative Commons, Flickr, The Daily Post