Articles tagged "inspiration"

30 Ways to Combat Writer’s Block

At some point in your writing career, you’re probably going to face it — the dreaded writer’s block. For the lucky, it lasts only a few hours or days. For the unlucky, it can take weeks or even months to get over. Most writers have their own coping mechanisms, but what may work for one person is no guarantee for another. So what can you do when you’re faced with a blank white page and an unrelenting cursor?

A while back we asked you on Facebook to tell us your secret combat weapons for fighting off writer’s block, and you had some great ones, which are here. We also have a blog post from the past with helpful tips found here. But when desperate to get over the hump more advice is better, right? So to help you find at least one method that works, here’s a list of things to try in no particular order:

Take a walk

Write through it anyway

Workout

Cook a big, good meal

Listen to music

Try another creative medium: Strum a tune or paint a picture

Pick a random topic and do a 15-minute free write

Deprive yourself of sleep for as long as you can and then write until you can no longer stay awake

Write a positive note to yourself on special paper

Start (or keep) a daily log of your day in a journal

Go to a busy street/restaurant/bar and people watch for a bit and write down everything interesting you observe

Try writing an off-the-cuff poem

Write a friend a long letter by hand

Look at photos online of places that inspire you or, better yet, take a walk down your own memory lane and look at your own albums

Write a chapter of your story from another character’s perspective

Have a glass of wine or three (or chocolate)

Research your book’s subject matter

Visit a museum or art gallery

Pick a random object in your house and write 200 words about it

Find a different place to work. If you’re at home, try a coffee shop — or vice versa

Take a bubble bath

Call a writer-friend and commiserate first, then assign one another a writing project to be completed within a few hours

Try outlining your novel/essay/article, if you haven’t already done so

Write out a to-do list of every chore you need to accomplish

Spend some time pondering life in the yogic legs-up-the-wall pose

Stop berating yourself for not writing

Play with your dog/cat/reptile. If you don’t have one, ask a friend if you can come over and give their Fido some love

Try writing during a different time of the day

Take a nap

And finally… Drink a cup of caffeinated tea or coffee

We know this list isn’t exhaustive, and there’s room for more ideas, so tell us, Lulu readers, what’s worked (or not) for you?

Making a Difference

Each month during our company meetings we take time to highlight customer success stories: authors who, after multiple years, have completed their dream or have realized an unforeseen sales increase. For December I wanted to depart a bit from that topic and instead look at a more timely and relevant theme. As we enter into the holiday season, let’s each consider how we make a difference on a daily basis. In the meeting I asked, “When’s the last time you made a difference?” Some of the replies we got were one employee who purchased a cup of coffee for someone that morning who didn’t have the money for it and another employee who showed his 3-year-old son how to hold his new born. Some of you may have recently donated blood, given your time coaching a youth recreation team, or helped your child last night with homework. In each instance, you made a difference.

Now, let’s focus on our creators who make a difference. The following Lulu creators are making a difference…for the Environment, for Animal Rescue, for Quality of Life, for Children’s Health, for Wildlife, and for Families.

Society for Wilderness Stewardship:

Help celebrate the importance of the National Wilderness Preservation System with your purchase.

The Author Who Brought Coach Kay Yow’s Inspiring Story To Life

North Carolina State women’s basketball fans know the name Kay Yow. As the team’s coach, she achieved more than 700 wins over her 34-year career, became a Hall of Fame inductee, and coached the 1988 women’s Olympic team to their gold medal win. In 2009, Yow passed away from breast cancer after battling the disease for two-plus decades. To residents of the Tar Heel state, Yow is a true legend whose story MaryEllen Williams wanted to tell:

Living here in Raleigh, NC, everyone knew the name Kay Yow but what made me want to know more about her was the fact that she was said to be a very special person, someone who was at a higher spiritual level than most of us. As I looked into her more I realized she was known worldwide. I wanted to find out her roots and what made her stand out among the best.

Before she could write Kay’s story, which would ultimately be released as her nonfiction book Triumph, MaryEllen spent a considerable amount of time doing research. She watched videos online, read all the newspaper articles she could get her hands on, and contacted the person in charge of Kay’s estate to get consents and releases as well as to option the story to the beloved coach’s life. Once she identified the key figures in Kay’s life, MaryEllen sought them out. Kay’s friends, family, and former staff members answered MaryEllen’s questions and thus the narrative was born.

Once she completed her manuscript, MaryEllen decided to skip traditional publishing altogether and go independent for one reason alone: timing. When told it could take years to get an agent and a book contract, she turned to Lulu, which ended up being, “the best thing I ever did because they have bent over backwards in their support for this inspiring project,” MaryEllen said.

Now Triumph: Inspired by the true life story of legendary Coach Kay Yow can be purchased through Lulu.com as well as both Amazon and Barnes & Noble’s websites.

To promote Triumph, MaryEllen hired a publicity firm to do a six-week PR campaign. But MaryEllen isn’t only relying on them; she knows that an author must also be her own biggest advocate and so she’s been hitting the pavement in her hometown of Raleigh. Recently, Quail Ridge Book Store and the N.C. State Bookstores agreed to take copies of Truimph, which MaryEllen knows is a triumph in and of itself.

Next up for MaryEllen is a screenplay of Kay’s story, which she’s been dreaming about even before she started the book. It’s been an incredible journey she admits — and she’s learned quite a few things along the way.

My tips to any author are to work hard, ask anything and everything about your subject. Persevere and never give up.  Every hurdle you meet can be overcome.  Believe in yourself and your project.  You are, as I said, your biggest advocate.  Get excited. It’s contagious.

Mark your calendar with inspiration for 2013

Alert! There’s only one more page on my calendar. I’ve already hit the dilemma that there’s no page in my calendar for me to scribble down exciting things that I have planned for 2013, which means that it’s high time for me to create my 2013 calendar.

For me – someone who lives and dies by her calendar – creating my calendar is a very important process for me. It’s a chance for me to reflect on what my goals are for the coming year and to select pictures that will keep me motivated and remind me of what’s important to me.

So, what’s important to me? Travel, family, fun, charitable giving and my local community. So, these are what I highlight in the pictures I select for my calendar. Seeing these pictures each day beside my desk keeps me motivated and brings a smile to my face as I recall each memory.

Earlier this season we invited local North Carolina groups to create calendars that reflect the things that will motivate them in 2013. Below we’ve highlighted four participants who are in the running to win $1000 based on most calendar sales by the end of the year. What I love about these examples is how they reflect the same things that I hold dear: supporting local food and communities, having fun, supporting charitable causes, promoting good health and celebrating a love of reading.

The Freebooksy Bookish Quirks Calendar celebrates readers by pointing out funny things that we readers do or think. In short, it’s a collection of quirks from bookish people!

This 2013 calendar showcases some of the many talents our amazing instructors here at Cirque de Vol have and love to share with the community!

Calendar featuring selected images from Cafe Helios in Raleigh, NC.

Mental Image is giving 20% of all profits to the Help April Breathe Easy Foundation. Body Painters include Tiffany Bickler, Emily Wagner, Emilio Jeffries, and Lisa Snead. We are using our healthy body’s to stop this disease.

 

These are just four great examples of calendar ideas. We hope you found some inspiration here. Calendars make great holiday gifts and they are also a way for your company, group, organization or charity to raise some money. If you do decide to create a calendar in order to raise some money, here are a few tips for marketing and selling your calendar:

1. Announce it on your Facebook page. Be sure to include a link to your calendar.
2. Write a blog post about your organization’s goals, motivations and commitments for 2013 and explain how your calendar reflects those. Be sure to include a link to your calendar.
3. Link to the calendar from your website.
4. Order some copies of your own calendar and sell them at the register or at events.
5. Link to your calendar in your newsletter

What are your motivations for 2013? Have you created your calendar yet?

Inspirational Quotes for Writers

How many times have you come across a quote and thought I should write that down? If you’re anything like me, the answer is: a lot. Finding meaning in someone else’s words is a joy, and as a writer I find comfort in the wisdom — and struggles (let’s be honest) — of others. It’s nice to know that not everyone gets “it” (or a seven figure deal for that matter) the first time out the gate.

“I try to remind myself how much I love to stitch words together to make a story that kids might enjoy reading,” says Kristiana Gregory, author of the young adult novel Stalked. The Robert Frost quote taped to her printer reads, “All the fun is in how you say a thing.”

Alexandra Foster, a former New York City-based freelance writer, turns to Ralph Waldo Emerson when she’s struggling:

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”

I have quotes all over my apartment. Above my desk I have Ernest Hemingway’s “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” And on my fridge there’s a small piece of paper with Andy Rooney’s words scribbled: “A writer’s job is to tell the truth.”

VH1 writer and blogger Kate Spencer says Andy Warhol’s honesty “speaks” to her — especially when he said: “Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”

Each of us will take to certain phrases more than others, but in case you need a little inspiration these days, here are some quotes to consider:

“Every writer I know has trouble writing.” –Joseph Heller

“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” –Stephen King

“You can make anything by writing.” –C.S. Lewis

“You can’t edit a blank page.” –Nora Roberts

You might also enjoy the Pinterest Pin Board we just started as a place to collect inspiring quotes for authors.

In the comments, tell us: What quotes inspire you as a writer?

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss

How many of you have been influenced by the works of Dr. Seuss? Help us celebrate his birthday by sharing with us your childhood memories of Dr. Seuss, lessons you learned, your favorite quotes and maybe even a rhyme of your own!

Buy eBooks. Save trees. In honor of The Lorax and Dr. Seuss.

The Power of Brainstorming

Sometimes the hardest part of writing is the beginning. A blank screen can be intimidating, but with a powerful brainstorm session, you’ll have more ideas than you know what to do with! As a writer and fellow Lulu, I appreciate how frustrating writer’s block can be, which is why I’ve come up with a few tips to help you beat that barrier that all aspiring authors face. Everyone has their own tricks to help unlock their inner muse, so please post any advice that you would like to share with others in the Lulu community!

brainstorm
envision · create · dream up · ponder · think · conceive

  • Make your own creative space. Maybe this changes from week to week (a new coffee shop or park bench) or perhaps you have carved out a designated writing place that you return to again and again (a particular room in your house). There are no rules for your creative space except that it should only include things that encourage rather than inhibit innovation. So turn off your cell and get away from your computer and any other distractions, if possible.
  • Set a minimum amount of time. Plan to brainstorm for at least 20 to 30 minutes without interruption. If your brainstorm session goes longer, that’s great, but make sure you have a solid amount of time to encourage a consistent flow of ideas.
  • A fresh start. Get away from focusing on tired ideas that you’ve been stuck on for awhile. Write these all down on a piece of paper, and push them to the side. Now that you’ve emptied your brain, begin a new thought process of story leads and character ideas that you’ve never considered.
  • Draw on new inspirations. My favorite professor in college was an English teacher and published short story writer who kept a coffee tin chock-full of newspaper clippings and faded photographs that she would use as little inspirations when she was in need of a new story idea. Find inspiration in the ordinary by flipping through a magazine or looking through your collection of postcards from old friends. You’ll be surprised to find that story sparks can come from the most unlikely places.
  • Your brain needs exercise, too. Remember those silly daily journal entries that you used to have to write in language arts class in middle school? Well, your teacher was right. Just like you have to stretch and warm up before going on a run, you also should do writing exercises to get your mind moving. There is a wealth of sites with these simple journal entries on the Internet if you can’t think of any. The Writer’s Digest site, in particular, has some great prompts that are worth checking out.
  • Stream-of-consciousness storming. No idea is too outlandish for you to include on your list. List everything that comes to mind without worrying about organization or coherence. For now you want to get as many ideas down on paper as possible.
  • Tools for the storm. Arm yourself with Post-it notes and any extra inspirations. Just as sports fans have their superstitious rituals and lucky objects, writers can also establish a system to get into the habit of productive writing. A few of my lucky writing tools include a bobblehead pen that says “Genius”, my journal and a copy of See Jane Write. I also rely on inspirational quotes from my Daily Kiss widget and Skirt! Magazine.
  • Two heads are better than one. Find someone to bounce ideas off of. Whether this is a friend, a loved one or another literary genius, it doesn’t matter as long as they are a positive force for generating ideas. Look for local writer groups in your area, or join a Lulu group or forum discussion. If you offer to listen to someone else’s ideas they often will be more inclined to give you the advice you need.

Now that you have all these ideas on paper, it’s time to organize and develop them into coherent thoughts. Pick your top two or three ideas and build upon them by creating a mind map, an organizational tool that adds structure to ideas. You can create mind maps either the old-fashioned way on paper, or you download mind map software such as FreeMind, a free program that creates word webs.

Now that you are a brainstorming and organizational expert, it’s time to flesh out your ideas and spend some time developing them into the next great Lulu publication! With some patience, time and a little help from Lulu, you’re on your way to becoming a self-published author.