It’s All in the Taste

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s post is one of a series on using your senses to get your writing going. If you enjoyed my posts on sight, sound and smell, then you might like this one on the sense of taste.

I’m a foodie. I LOVE all kinds of food in moderation (Otherwise, I’d look like Willy in the Free Willy movies). My favorite thing about any meal is the very first bite. I can taste the big flavors and nuances of more subtle flavors in the dish. As a writer, I’m able to describe why I love the taste so much. So here’s today’s challenge for you Freshman Writers should you choose to accept it:

1. Line up a spoonful each of – salt, sugar, lemon juice and coffee grounds. You can use any flavors you’d like so dont’ worry about sticking to this list. It’s just to give you a starting point. Make sure to keep a glass of water nearby to cleanse your palate after trying each sample.

2. Have a pen and notepad ready to jot down your initial thoughts.

3. Let the tasting begin! Start with a sip of water and try the first item on your list. So if you taste the salt first, what does it remind you of? Do you think of a specific dish or event? And don’t cheat by saying it’s salty. Use other words to describe the flavors.

4. Write something down for each flavor until you complete the exercise.

5. If you have trouble finding the words to describe flavors, try watching Andrew Zimmern on Bizarre Foods. I love his show and he is great at sharing his thoughts on specific flavors and textures of food.

Bon Appetit and Happy Writing!

Use Your Senses – Smell’s the word

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s post is the next in a series about writing using your senses. We’ve already covered seeing and hearing. Now, it’s on to our sense of smell.

According to the Social Research Center, the human sense of smell can detect thousands of odors such as  dinner being ready, fire (eeek!) or even things invisible to the naked eye. We have two small odor-detecting patches high in our noses with millions of cells that allow us to distinguish various smells from one another.

Today’s challenge for you Freshman Writers is to use your schnoz to help your writing along. Open your window and inhale. Then write down what you can detect. Do you want to go towards or away from the smell? Have at it and let your nose do the writing!

Happy Writing!

Use Your Senses – Do you hear what I hear?

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. “Do you hear what I hear” is a popular Christmas song, but for me,  it’s an inspiring way to write.

In my last post I challenged you to use your senses to get you writing. We writers can often get bogged down by the writing process and get side-tracked. Sometimes we forget that writing is about using all of our senses – listening is a great one to use.

My day job requires me to listen to people  – everyday I listen for needs, requests and feelings. Part of my job is to be an active listener – ie – giving my full attention to someone else. I pay attention to the content of the statement and then repeat it. I also pay attention to what isn’t said out loud. Hearing something – ie in the background – is very different from actively listening to something and being able to repeat what you heard.

Your challenge, Freshman Writers, is to sit on your own and close your eyes. Listen to the sounds around you for five minutes and then write about it. Did you hear a train rolling by (as I do everyday at work) or did you hear the buzzing of a bee? If you have a hard time recalling the sounds you hear, try using a digital recorder or use the voice note function on your smart phone if you have one.

If you can take the sounds you hear and convert them into words, you can help your writing shine by being more descriptive and expressive. Your readers will be able to understand how the screeching of a howler monkey can resemble nails on a chalkboard and cause you to grind your teeth in reaction. Not pretty sounds by any means, but you get my point – those sounds are painful to the ear.

Use your hearing sense to write and see what you come up with. Feel free to come back and share your experience.

Happy Writing!

Under Pressure

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s post is about being under pressure and how that affects your writing. I came up with this after going through my own ‘dry’ period and wrote about it here.

For some, being under pressure works. It can motivate you to push yourself harder and further in your writing. That kind of pressure can get you to try new forms of writing, submit to that magazine (that you think is out of reach) or start a new writing project. It can help.

For others (like me recently), being under pressure doesn’t help. It turns our brains into mush, keeping us from writing a coherent thought. Pressure can be intimidating and makes the road to publishing daunting.

But, it doesn’t have to be this way. I have a couple of tips that can help you depressurize and get back to your writing.

1. List all of the things that are bugging you. Even the small act of writing out our stresses can lighten the load and helps get the junk out.

2. Separate the things that you can change and the things you can’t. There’s so much that we think about that is out of our control. The weather, the economy, gas prices – there’s just too much out there that we can’t do anything about. So why worry about it? Get rid of the stuff that you can’t fix and work on the things you can.

3. Figure out ways to deal with the things you can change. Maybe change your writing schedule or read a good book. Take a walk or start a journal. Your power is in your hands and you can make your writing happen. No one else can do that for you. Life will continue on without you anyway, so focus on the stuff that matters to you.

4. Give yourself a break. Being under pressure can be hard because you feel you don’t have a chance to breathe. Take five minutes or 30 seconds to just sit and breathe. Take in the oxygen (good stuff) and get rid of the carbon dioxide (bad stuff).  The act of deep breathing (if you allow it) can calm you down and prepare you for the next step.

Life is hard and we all know that. These tips have helped me let go of the junk, empowered me to get back on the horse and allowed me to write again. I just wanted to share with you the tricks that get me through challenging days. Feel free to share what helps you Freshman Writers release pressure and write.

Happy Writing!

Need Inspiration – Take a Walk

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s post came from my walk this morning.

When I heard the weather this morning (62 degrees), I decided to walk to work today. The 20 minutes of solitude was great. It allowed me to run through the things I did yesterday, things I needed to do today and things that were picking at my brain.

Sans Ipod, I was able to think about goals, dreams and tasks. I also enjoyed the silence of the morning. There were a few birds chirping, but there was silence for the most part to join me on the walk. 20 minutes was enough to bring me clarity about things that were bugging me and inspired this post.

Writers, if you stuck on a piece or can’t get yourself organized to write – go for a walk. Stepping away from writing for a while can help you stop, breathe and think so that you can get back to it.

Happy Walking and Writing!

Superpowers for Writers?

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s post is a prompt based on a post I wrote about a poll of superpowers. I like the idea of superpowers in general, but I wonder what you Freshman Writers would choose as a superpower.

So here’s the prompt: write about superpowers. What comes to mind? What would you choose as your superpower?

Have at it writers!

Happy Writing!

Play to write

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s editorial is about how to play yourself back to writing.

Writers get stuck. It is a fact that writers run out of steam during the process from time to time. After doing this myself, I found my way back to writing. Try these games to get you back on track and no you won’t need a partner for them either.

1. Scrabble – I tried this one yesterday while kiddo was working on a project. Broke out my Scrabble board and letters. I started and completed a Scrabble game of 20 words. After the first five words, I realized I had a theme about a hero, a struggle and a rescue. After filling the board with words, I got an index card to write all the words down for a story later. Try it yourself and see what happens. I also realized later on that the words I chose had to do with a book I’m currently reading. If I could get a series of words just from reading, I can’t imagine what other words lists I’d come up with while doing other tasks.

2. Boggle – This one is a great one because you shake a box full of letters and find words. Usually four-letter words or more, you’ll end up with at least ten words to use. Try writing a haiku with this wordlist. Or challenge yourself by finding longer words.

3. Newspaper crossword puzzles – If you’re really in a bind, check out your local newspaper. These puzzles are written with themes in mind. You can try to solve the puzzle for the words or write based on the theme. In the NY Post, the puzzle is called Wonderword. It is a search and find puzzle with a theme as well as a list of words you need to locate. After that, you take this list of words to come up with the final Wonderword. There is a clue to help along the way. The Daily News (NYC’s other hometown paper) has a Wonderword puzzle, too. But, there is a long word (20 letters) and you have to find 25 five-letter words. Again, all around a theme, but a lot of fun.

Next time you’re stuck, Freshman Writers, try a game. You never know where it’ll take you. Happy Writing!

Falling Behind

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing.

I fell behind this week. Due to a bad head cold, I spent two days in bed and even missed work on Monday. Sometimes life gets in the way, causing us to stop everything. So I fell behind in my writing and this is the first bit I’ve done so far this week. But, I’ve decided to use it to write. Let me explain.

What do you do if you fall behind? Do you have a positive outlook or do you go along with your negativity? Do you let that negativity fester or do you attempt to get it out? One of the best things to write about is our emotions. How we react to and how we feel about something says a great deal about the kind of person we are. And that helps us with our writing.

Often times, we can get stuck on a character (if we’re fiction writers) or an theme (non-fiction) and end up leaving that manuscript aside. But, when we’re falling behind due to a life event outside of our writing, that event can be the very thing that puts us back on track.

Write down how you feel when you’ve lagged behind. Give details and try to answer the Five W’s – Who, what, when where and why. Not only can you gain personal insight through this exercise, you can also use it when you’re building a character in a story. For non-fiction writers, you can use this as an exercise in getting the junk out so that you can have access to your theme. Then go back to your previous work-in-progress.

Remember that everything you go through can be used in your writing. Whether you’re developing a character or writing about life events. If you fall behind, use your personal experiences to catch you up and get back on track.

Happy Writing!

Utilizing your energy

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing.

Today’s post is about using your energy to write. I found that when I put on my headphones and listen to inspirational music, I really am charged and can focus on writing.  Freshman writers often have a difficult time figuring out how to find time to write.

Not all writers have a specific peak writing period. Some writers can focus best in the morning, while others are night writers. Lol. Still others are grazers and write in short spurts throughout the day. Other writers are weekend warriors and write during days off from a 9-5 gig. In her book “Time to Write,” Kelly L. Stone writes about how writers can find writing time no matter what kind of schedule or responsibilities they may have.  Stone interviewed 100 writers to get their input on how they and you Freshman Writers can find the time to write and get things done.   

When is your peak writing time? What helps you get the most out of your writing time? How do you get yourself into the groove to write? However you may answer, you can get insight as to your peak writing times and use that to get as much writing done as possible.

Happy Writing!

Getting back to basics

Hiya Freshman Writers! I hope this finds you well and writing.

I know it’s been a long time since I’ve posted here. I do apologize for it. I’ve been in a severe writing funk that has lasted nearly two months. I’ve been thinking about how writers deal with writing funks/blocks/etc. And here’s what I came up with. What CAN you do to get out of a funk? Get back to basics.

Get back to the simplicities of being a writer. It sounds simple, but it isn’t. Or is it? You write therefore you are a writer. Sometimes we writers forget that. We forget to remind ourselves what we’re in this for. We forget our writing spirit.

Writers always need to take a break from writing and nurture their writing spirit. Its that energy inside of you that drives you; compels you to write. Whether it’s taking a class, reading a writing book or going on a writer’s retreat, there is always the need to get back to the reasons why you started writing in the first place. So here are some questions to get you thinking:

1. When did you start writing?

2. Why did you start writing?

3. What part of the writing process gets you most excited?

4. How do you keep up your writing spirit?

5. What do you think is most challenging about writing? The writing life? Being a writer?

I hope these questions will help you. These are the ones I’ve been asking myself during my hiatus. While I’ve answered some, others remain unanswered. I’m still evaluating; still meditating on it. Let me know what has been working for you. 🙂

Take care and happy writing!