Writing Journal 44: Creativity Tools for Writers

Writing Journal 44: Creativity Tools for Writers

My writing journal for Thursday, September 25, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

The first draft of the client’s novella is done; now for the editing. In preparation for that, I compiled it from Scrivener to MOBI, so that I can read it tonight without distractions.

That just took a couple of minutes, so I’ve got time to write a quick draft of a short story for my Christmas collection of 25 stories; I managed 1,500 words. It will grow to around 3,000 words at a guess. I’ve just sketched in a couple of the big scenes. I created a graphic of how many scenes you need for various types of fiction projects. Students have found it useful.

Next, onward to the company history I’m ghostwriting. This went slowly this morning, only 800 words. I need to get more information, and I need to backtrack too. Whenever I feel uncertain about a project, it’s always wise to go back. As I tell my students: you can’t have a strong book without a strong beginning, and it may take you a while to get there.

I fix Honey’s breakfast, then have my own, while reading email. I caught up on some email last night, but there’s still a backlog. I need to deal with some of it before it gets out of hand.

Then it’s time to get to work on the company history, and check my draft blog posts until lunch.

Readers have asked about productivity, and how to stay creative.

Creativity tools: clustering, free writing and doodling

You can’t push creativity. However you can use tools which will help you to be creative. My favorite creativity tools are clustering, free writing, and doodling.

Vital: give yourself space. If you’re working with clients, you’ll be tempted to push yourself hard, so that you can meet deadlines. When you do that, you risk burning out. Years ago, I went through a burned out period, and once was enough. I always pull myself back if I feel that I’m pushing.

A tip: have fun. I can’t emphasize that enough. That’s not a frivolous statement. New writers tend to think “having fun” is the last thing they should be doing, but as Carl Jung said:

“the creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect, but by play.”

If you haven’t discovered this for yourself, you’ll soon learn from experience.

When you stop having fun with something, take it as a warning that you’re pushing yourself too hard. Step back.

Another tip: take BREAKS. I use timers, and after every 30 to 40 minutes (depending on the project), I take a five minute break. I’ll do a crossword, or listen to some music. I might make a coffee, or take Honey outside. I might send a couple of texts. Whatever — I get up, move around, and clear my mind.

Yes, sometimes I get so involved that I don’t do this, but I know that I’ll be more productive when I take regular breaks. I use various timers, my current favorites are Repeat Timer Pro, and Tomatoes.

Lunch at my computer today, while browsing social media. I didn’t get a chance to walk this morning. It’s raining.

A full afternoon

I start off the afternoon with the company history, and do 2,800 words. I’m pleased. However, it’s taken over three hours. I didn’t want to stop. I knew I’d have trouble getting into the right frame of mind for this section again.

Next, the Kindle ebook for my coaching client. I made notes and did some research an managed 1,000 words on that.

I had to break off to return some calls, and respond to an urgent email message.

With that done, it’s time for the daily review, and totaling my word counts. Tonight, I’ll need to catch up with email, and read the MOBI of the novella.

Team Up: yes, it’s the final one for the year

We’ve received some questions about Team Up.

Yes, this is the final program for the year. Once we hit October, we’re coming into the very busy holiday sales period. It usually means a rush of copywriting projects, so look for the next Team Up to be scheduled for March or April 2015.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Writing Journal 21: Handwriting and Creativity

Writing Journal 21: Handwriting and Creativity

My writing journal for Tuesday, September 2, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

Novella: character arc challenges

I got up a little later this morning, and dived into the novella immediately. Although most of the niggles about the story got sorted, I’m still uncertain about the character arcs for the two main characters.

Yes, I could fix this in the second draft, but I don’t want to. So, I went back, and dragged two scenes into my “Maybe” folder, and wrote three new scenes. This makes the characters stronger, and I’m happy. I ended up with a total of 3,500 new words.

My long session with the novella ate into the time I’d scheduled for the nonfiction book, but that’s OK. I’m on track with that. If I get to the book later today I will; if not, it will have to wait until tomorrow.

After giving Honey her breakfast, I checked email. A light morning for email, because it’s Labor Day weekend for my north American students and clients.

I’ve got a couple of meetings this morning, so I did some cluster diagrams and made some notes for small copywriting projects I have lined up for this week, and checked the research I did for the video scripts.

Breakfast, and then it’s time to prepare for the meetings.

Content strategy meetings

I’m working with two local businesses, and they’re getting ready for holiday sales. They’re brick and mortar businesses. Although they’ve been online for several years; they’re both starting to see an uptick in online sales.

After having lunch, it’s back to get on with the video scripts I started working on yesterday. They’re short. At the end of a couple of hours, I’ve managed to rough out a quick draft for both of them.

Then email again.

Why I use paper

Yesterday, when we discussed planning and GTD, I talked about my paper notebooks. I received some messages about that. Aren’t we all aiming for the paperless office?

It turns out that you remember more when you write by hand; there’s an interesting study here. And here’s an article from Scientific American, on another study:

Mueller and Oppenheimer postulate that taking notes by hand requires different types of cognitive processing than taking notes on a laptop… taking notes by hand forces the brain to engage in some heavy “mental lifting,” and these efforts foster comprehension and retention.

Although I own LOTS of software — I used to write for tech magazines, and can’t resist playing with software — I’m committed to planning by hand. You can create a diagram on paper in seconds. On the computer, you’ve got to work out how big you want your brush, choose a color etc, and this is all mental overhead. You don’t want this junk cluttering up your mind while you’re trying to be creative.

Recently a Fab Freelance Writing Blog reader asked about software for fiction writers. I’ve tried lots of it over the years, but paper’s better. And easier. Again, it’s because of the mental overhead that an app needs, AND because it’s restrictive.

Let’s say I want to think about a character for a short story. I rough out material on whatever paper’s handy, usually Clairfontaine, because I have a fountain pen addiction. :-) When it’s done, I snap an image on my phone with Evernote’s camera . Once the image is in Evernote, I save it to my desktop as a JPG, and drag the JPG into Scrivener. The original piece of paper is either recycled; or shoved into a folder if it’s an ongoing project.

Writing by hand makes you more creative. I read The Power of Your Other Hand years ago, and it made a big impression on me. It’s now in a Kindle version, in a second edition, so I’ll probably buy it. I have the paper version somewhere, but these days I prefer to read on my iPad. It’s a fascinating book if you’re interested in creativity, and how to tap into your own.

Try paper. Your mileage may vary of course, but if you want to enhance your creativity, paper’s better. And write with fountain pens. :-)

Back to my Christmas short story

Just another couple of blog posts to complete, and schedule, then I check on the Christmas short story I began yesterday. I manage another 1,000 words.

That’s it for today. A productive day. I complete my daily review, and word count.

I’m hoping that I’ll get a chance to do more work on the short story tonight.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Writing Journal 19: Edits and Sunday Blogging

Writing Journal 19:  Edits and Sunday Blogging

My writing journal for Sunday, August 31, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

Fiction focus today

I received novella #3 back from the editor last night, so I’ve decided to focus on fiction this morning. I’m on-track for the nonfiction book, so that’s fine.

I slept in this morning (horrors), so I need to get caught up. It won’t be a full working day because it’s Sunday, which means I have commitments.

I managed to get a couple of timer sessions (35 minutes each) of novella #4 done, with 2,300 words. However, I’ll need to do a read-through because the characters aren’t reacting the way I expected they would. In a way, that’s fine, because the characters are starting to drive the book; in another way, it’s a disaster. Over the years, I’ve found that characters can drive a book right off a cliff. I may need to back up a couple of scenes.

Time for Honey’s breakfast.

Then my own breakfast, while reading email. I’m still hugely impressed with Mailbox. It’s a delight to use on a phone. It’s intelligent too. It picks up what you want to do with a message from how you’ve handled similar messages in the past. It offers to handle future messages for you in the same way.

Lots of student emails today. I’m a little behind on student feedback. I made some notes on student projects I read on my iPad last night. I’ve just got to call up Notability on my Mac this morning, and copy the notes to email, and send them off.

Edits of novella #3

I’ve looked the material over, and there isn’t much to do. However “much” is relative. It’s a long novella. I could have made it shorter, if I’d taken the characters in hand. :-) Not to worry, it will get done today, then it gets shipped off to the client.

I’ve got a lot of client blogging to do today. However, I’ll leave that for this afternoon. I’ll focus on the edits for now.

Whew — the edits are done. Time to leave it for now; before I’m late…

Back again: final read of novella #3

I’m back. I do a quick read of novella #3, and it’s time to focus on creating draft posts for my own and clients’ blogs.

Finally done. Sadly, not as many draft posts as I’d hoped to do. Enough for now. Time for the daily review, and word count. And that’s it for today. :-)

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Writing Journal 16: Meetings

Writing Journal 16:  Meetings

My writing journal for Thursday, August 28, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

The novella is moving right along

No more hiccups with the novella. I like the world that I’m creating in it. I might set another novella in this particular world. Wrote 1,000 words this morning, even after spending 30 minutes researching old French titles and nobility. I couldn’t put the research off, because it affects the plot.

The nonfiction book is skipping along too; 1,000 words on that. I’ve got a lot to do today, so since the book’s on track, I wanted to get to email quickly.

I like Mailbox in general, but I’m used to Gmail sorting the mail for me. Although I didn’t like Gmail’s tabs initially, I’m used to them, and don’t want to deal with unsorted mail.  So when I saw that I had a couple of hundred messages staring at me this morning in Mailbox, I panicked and opened Gmail.

Once I dealt with the deluge, I went back to Mailbox. I love Mailbox’s idea of having messages pop back into the Inbox later in the day, but I wish that Mailbox would sort the email, as Gmail does.

Mailbox is still in beta however, so I won’t complain too much. I’m sure they’ve got lots of goodies planned. It’s perfect on devices; I used to hate checking email on my phone; Mailbox makes it fast. Elegant.

After spending a timer session responding to messages, I gave Honey her breakfast, and made some notes for Julia.

Next, student emails and projects. I’ve got a couple of meetings today, which means that I’m in a rush to get everything done. I eat breakfast at the computer.

I managed to get a lot done; the rest will have to wait until tomorrow or the weekend.

Out most of the day

Lunch with a writer friend. He’s recently jumped from his magazine writing gig to a gig with a PR company. We chat about Web content, and publishing.

Then off to the the meetings.

They went well, and were fun, but I got back very late.

After I’d returned phone calls, I only had a couple of timer sessions to fill, so I wrote some first draft material on a couple of copywriting projects and the day was over.

Before closing down, I edited the photos of whiteboards etc from the meetings in Evernote. Did you know you can edit images in Evernote very simply?

A quick Evernote tip: photos

After you’ve photographed something with Evernote’s camera, you can edit it inside Evernote, using any image editor on your computer.

Right-click the image, and choose Open With. Choose an image editor, and edit the image in the editor. When you save the image, the image updates itself inside Evernote. It’s fast, it’s brilliant, and it’s one of my favorite Evernote features.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

photo credit: Daniel E Lee via photopin cc