This is somewhat off-topic to "talking story" and "better conversations," however Talking Story has been reborn for me this year as my personal blog so here goes… you can skip it if learning to love writing is not on your wishlist.
Readers, and mostly other bloggers, ask me all the time how I can write so much, publishing for at least three sites regularly, and I have been called a "writing machine" on more than one occasion, so I thought I would try to explain it here. I’ll describe how my own writing flow happens, offering it up to you in the hope you can draw some tips from it if you are a writer who wants to get more from your inner muse.
For those of you who like lists, what follows are…
9 Ways to Get Writing Flow from Your Inner Muse
1. Never be without pen and paper. Never.
You get a lot of ideas, you really do. You just have to train yourself to capture them, and then explore them through your writing. You see our brains are so amazingly alert, they are always looking out for the next idea for us, and if we don’t write things down, we forget them easily as we get fascinated with something else, and a new idea always seems to be cooler and sexier than an old idea – even one that was only 5 minutes ago.
When I get an idea, I’ve been known to stop people mid-conversation, saying, "Can you hold that thought for a moment while I write something down?" (and people who know me well, will sometimes stop mid-sentence and ask me, "Are you going to write about something I just said?" I guess my thinking gets pretty transparent :)
2. When online, keep a Simple List open for your capture.
Once my fingers are poised over my keyboard, a pen doesn’t have a chance with me, for I type way, way faster than I write. Simple List is the name of a Google Doc I use as the digital, electronic counterpart to the same kind of quick capture my pen and paper provide in serving my brain when I’m offline.
My Simple List is actually a Google Spreadsheet and not a document, because if it were a document I would write too much and the idea itself would get lost in my exploration of it. Simple List is more like my digital scrap paper of ideas, and I have 4 columns on it:
column 1 – today: date the idea struck
column 2 – done?: date I did something with it (cause then I can sort all the blanks I haven’t acted on yet to the top of the page
column 3 – what?: whatever the idea capture is
column 4 – why?: what struck me about it?
Sometimes I’ll add to the why later (thus it’s the last, and biggest column…) and far as blogging goes, I will usually get one post for every why? I come up with, for more is too much.
If you’re not a list or spreadsheet person, there are a lot of other ways to do this: The idea is to have a very quick-and-easy-to-use capture tool that is habitual for you in your trusted system.
3. Choose a good bookmarking tool, and use it.
The bookmarking tool I use is del.icio.us – absolutely love it for keeping a tagged reference to whatever I happen to find of interest online. Del.icio.us gets the credit for what I’ve taught myself about the value of tagging (way more than Technorati ever did). Most of the time my subscriptions there are a mess because I need to clean up my tags, eliminating dupes and better bundling others, but here’s the good news: It’s one of the most creative messes I have! I mostly go back to my account to do some clean-up in those evenings when I think I’m brain dead for much else, and somewhere within the clean-up I get newly interested in something I bookmarked and I start writing about it.
I am finding that the following feature on Tumbler is terrific for this too; I get tons of pointers to interesting tidbits from following Christopher Bailey. (If you have a Tumblr, point me there by ‘following’ me there, or leaving your Tumblr link here in the Talking Story comments.)
4. Get inspired with great photography.
That adage that a picture is worth a thousand words is so true. So capture those words that picture inspired you with! Here is the site I now get most of my photos from… I defy you not to lose at least the next three minutes there… (come back, okay?)
Here is a great example of how a picture can turn into newly energized writing: Longtime readers know I write about the Daily Five Minutes ® often… what more could I possibly write about it? Well, lots, but as nuts as I am about recommending it to you, I recently had this aha! moment that I didn’t have a definitive article for it on MWAC, when I saw this picture:
Conversation in the clouds by Swamibu.
Click on the photo to read: What’s the skinny on the Daily 5 Minutes?