Want to know a great way to kick writer’s block to the curb? Motivate your muse? Create characters with real character?
Find a great photographer’s website, or even a photo sharing site like Flickr, and peruse the images you find there.
As writers, we are encouraged to read, read, read in order to find inspiration and hone our craft. Emulating the greats, like Hemingway or Steinbeck, can only lift a writer higher. Reading other writers’ works teaches us technique, inspires us to do more, and sparks our own ideas.
As a photographer, I find looking at other photographer’s photos works the same way. A great photograph inspires me, moves me, teaches me technique, and sparks ideas for my own photography.
A great photograph also sparks ideas for my own writing. A picture is worth a thousand words. Or more. Literally.
Take Tom Hussey’s Reflections series, for example. Each powerful photo could be a novel unto itself. Several novels. What story each picture evokes in you will be different from the one it evokes in me. If you’re a writer, you will look at one of those photos and think of a story. It’s almost impossible not to.
Go further to Tom Hussey’s website and browse his portraits. Each person he has photographed is a very unique character. So many possibilities! Perhaps one of those faces could be the hero or heroine in a novel. Maybe a secondary character. A villain. See the lady in curlers with a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other? She’s old Mrs. Grady, the eccentric landlady at an apartment complex in a seedy side of town. At least, that’s who she is in my short story, Aftermath.
There are many other photographers whose works might cause you to begin typing one hundred words a minute. Ansel Adams and Clyde Butcher are favorites of mine for evoking a mood or a setting. Perhaps Mathew Brady could be an inspiration for a historical or Civil War era writer. Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York is another great source for characters and stories. The world – and web – is full of great photographers, famous or unknown, professional or hobbyist. Even your own home could be a treasure trove of muse magic. Have you looked through that box of old family photos lately?
Just a reminder, the photos you find online are usually copyrighted and not in the public domain for use on your website, blog, etc. without permission. Look at, enjoy, and utilize those photographs for your own inspiration. And if a photo (or several) particularly inspires or moves you, why not let the photographer know? They’re artists just like you and enjoy receiving feedback, too.
I guarantee you, if you try this technique, writer’s block will melt away and your muse will come swimming back into your imagination. Your fingers will fly across the keyboard and magic will happen.
2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love was an inexpensive Kindle eBook that took but a few hours to read. Overall, there is nothing earth-shatteringly new in Rachel Aaron’s discussion of writing technique. She is a plotter and she advocates planning and plotting before putting pen to page. As a byproduct of knowing where you’re going in advance of actually writing, your word count will increase. That said, her description of her particular method was incredibly enlightening and useful to me. As I took notes, I realized I was creating a flow-chart and a visual guide for plotting and eventually editing my novel. The light bulb came on and excitement grew. I couldn’t wait to finish Rachel’s book and put her plan into action for my own WIP, which had been suffering from inertia.
In Rachel’s chapter, “If Writing Feels Like Pulling Teeth, You’re Doing It Wrong” I felt like she was in my head when she wrote it. Yes, this is exactly what I’ve been experiencing! I’m not alone! Now I know why, and know how to go about fixing it. It was the much-needed breakthrough I needed to get my current novel back on track. Rachel, where were you months ago? You would have saved me so much angst!
I also particularly enjoyed the chapter, “What advice do you have for new writers?” Rachel reminds the reader why they started writing in the first place, and sometimes we need that little boost and cheerleading to get ourselves back on track when we’ve been struggling and doubting ourselves.
The only reason I gave this 4 stars instead of 5 is the too-frequent typos throughout the book. It didn’t affect the value of the advice offered, but the number of typos gave a hurried, unprofessional appearance to an otherwise well-written tome.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and Rachel’s writing voice, and recommend it to anyone looking to increase their word count and overall productivity, as well as adding a few new tools to their writer’s toolbox for plotting and editing. I can’t wait to put her advice to good use and see my word count, as well as my finished novel count, grow.
Donald Maass is an literary agent, author, and an icon in the writing world. All of Donald’s books on writing are must-reading for any aspiring author.
K.M. Weiland is an author and blogger on the craft of writing and is quickly making a name for herself in the business. Her blog, vlogs, eBooks, and books on the elements of writing great fiction are all packed with useful information in a succinct format with tips you can utilize immediately.
I haven’t put either of these books down since I started reading them and they are helping me tremendously in plotting and structuring my current WIP.
If you haven’t read any of K.M. Weiland’s novel writing books, she’s currently in the midst of a promotional campaign for the release of Structuring Your Novel complete with some amazing prizes (win a Kindle, a manuscript evaluation, and Scrivener writing software). Do yourself a favor and check it out.
And make sure to check out Donald Maass’ works as well. You’ll be glad you did!
The video below is the second in a series of video tutorials covering the (very) basics of blogging using WordPress.com and tweeting with Twitter. In Part II, we cover choosing a WordPress.com theme and writing your first post with the WordPress.com setup menus that appear after activation.
Paul Thomas Anderson, writer & director of “The Master” (in theaters now) was on The Daily Show this week. He and Jon Stewart had an interesting discussion about balancing roles as writer and director. The meat of their conversation focusing on the writing process begins about 3:17 into the clip.
Today is the beginning of the Sunshine State Romance Authors‘ Prod Your Muse (PYM) Contest. For the next 4 months, the idea is to complete a 65,000 word novel. I wrote a 50,000 word novel in 30 days for NaNoWriMo 2009, so this will be a piece of cake, right? We’ll see…
Did you know that I once was a Playboy Bunny? Well, the bunny part is true—complete with ears, paws, and a fluffy tail. 🙂 Too bad I don’t have a video of the bunny hop I had to do while dressed like this. What teachers do to first graders in the name of school plays…
In honor of April Fool’s Day, Easter bunnies, marshmallow Peeps, and taxes, your entry must contain all four of the following words:
fool bunny peep taxes
One or more sentences not to exceed eighty words total.
And here is what I wrote:
Betty felt like such a fool. How in the world did she let Jane talk her into applying for a position as a waitress at the Playboy Club? Now here she was, dressed as a bunny, not allowed to make a peep when the clients pinched her bottom! If she weren’t in so much trouble with the IRS over her ex-husband’s taxes, there would be no way in hell she’d ever be seen in public with a white, fluffy tail.
So, how about you? Care to give it a try? The contest is now over, but it is a fun exercise. Write your own ode to fools, bunnies, peeps, and taxes in the comment form below. I’d love to see your take on this challenge.
Judith Rock is the author of The Charles du Luc Historical Mystery series, which includes The Rhetoric of Death (Book 1) and The Eloquence of Blood (Book 2). A Plague of Lies (Book 3) is due out later this year, and Judith is just now beginning work on her fourth installment in the series.
Judith was a delight to listen to and was a very animated and interesting speaker. She began her presentation by talking about her journey to becoming a published author, which included a myriad of unique life experiences that all seem to have coalesced into fodder for her current novels.