Writing Resources: The Pocket Muse

the pocket muse

A handy little source of inspiration for writing

We writers can’t be inspired every day.

Sometimes we get burned out. Other times, we have ideas but they just don’t seem appealing at the moment when we sit down to write. Sometimes we need to take a break from a writing project and spend a little time on shorter projects, which can recharge our creativity. Other times, we’re just stuck in a writing slump.

That’s when keeping a little stockpile of writing ideas and inspiration inspiration is a good idea.

The Pocket Muse

I received my copy of The Pocket Muse as a gift a few years ago. Unfortunately, it sat on my bookshelf for far too long. But recently, I cracked it open and started perusing it. And I found it absolutely delightful. Read more

A Selection of Journal Prompts from 1200 Creative Writing Prompts

journal prompts

Journal prompts from 1200 Creative Writing Prompts.

Today’s journal prompts are taken from my book, 1200 Creative Writing Prompts, which is filled with inspiration for writers and includes prompts for writing fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction.

The journal prompts in the book are found in the creative nonfiction section. They urge you to think about your personal experiences, beliefs, and ideas and then write about them. Some of these prompts could be used to write personal essays. They might even inspire an idea for a memoir, a personal blog, or a weekly column.

All the journal prompts are designed to spark ideas for personal writing. If you get an idea that is different from the prompt, go with it. Change the prompts, combine them, and use them in whatever way you see fit. Read more

How to Prioritize Your Writing Ideas

writing ideas

Which of your writing ideas is leading the pack?

There are always too many writing ideas or not enough of them.

Some days, we writers are so overwhelmed with ideas, it’s impossible to get anything done. Should you work on your novel? That essay you’re writing for your favorite magazine? You have an original premise for a short story. And you feel a poem coming on.

Other days, we just can’t find any inspiration. Read more

Are You Dedicated to Better Writing?

better writing

Better writing starts with you.

Today’s post is an edited excerpt from the introduction to 10 Core Practices for Better Writing, a book that aims to impart best practices in the craft of writing.

“When I’m writing, I know I’m doing the thing I was born to do.” — Anne Sexton

Words. They have the power to captivate the imagination, impart knowledge, express feelings, and share ideas. They are magical, and they are powerful.

A writer makes things out of words: sentences and paragraphs, essays and articles, books, poems, stories, and scripts. We use writing to create, communicate, share, and express ourselves. We use it to connect with people.

Writing is one of the most useful skills a person can possess. Think about how stories, speeches, films, and books have impacted society and culture, how they have shaped people’s thoughts and beliefs, and you’ll get an inkling of just how influential writing can be. Read more

10 Reasons Writers Should Learn Good Grammar

good grammar

Should you learn good grammar?

Every writer I know has a different perspective on just how good grammar needs to be.

Some are sticklers who insist on adhering to the highest standards of the literary order. Others are comfortable taking creative liberties and believe that breaking the rules is an art unto itself and a practice that should be embraced.

Me? I’m somewhere in the middle. I believe that a writer who is dedicated to the craft will take the time and invest the energy required to master the most basic tools, grammar being foremost among them. But I also believe there are situations in which it’s best to break the rules — as long as you know which rules you’re breaking and why. Read more

Poetry Writing Exercises: Alliteration and Assonance

poetry writing exercises

Poetry writing exercises: alliteration and assonance.

Today’s poetry writing exercise is an excerpt from 101 Creative Writing Exercises.

The exercises in 101 Creative Writing Exercises encourage you to experiment with different forms and genres while providing inspiration for publishable projects and imparting useful writing techniques that make your writing more robust.

This poetry writing exercise is from “Chapter Eight: Free Verse.” It’s titled “Alliteration and Assonance.” This exercise covers two literary devices that make your writing more rhythmic and memorable. Enjoy! Read more

Creative Writing Activities

creative writing activities

Take a break with these creative writing activities

Every once in a while, we writers need a break from our regular writing routines. Whether we spend our work week crafting copy for clients or dedicate late-night hours pounding out chapter and verse, we occasionally need respite from the monotony.

We get burnt out in the middle of a long project and need to step away so we can gain perspective and recharge our creativity. Sometimes we need to rejuvenate between projects. When a major project is finished, we need to find our next big idea.

But we also want to keep writing. A short vacation from writing practice starts with good intentions but ends with wondering how months or years slipped by without getting any real writing done.

One great way to continue writing while taking a break from our work is by engaging in creative writing activities. These are activities that remind us that writing is fun, meaningful, and invigorating, and they keep our writing skills sharp. Read more

How to Become a Better Writer

better writer

How to become a better writer.

There’s more to writing than pushing a pen across a piece of paper, and there’s more to being a writer than having written.

These days, everyone’s a writer. We write emails, text messages, and lists. A free blog is just a few clicks away. Self-publishing has drawn tens of thousands of dreamers who have scrawled stories and uploaded them to the web for all to read.

Everyone’s a writer, including you.

But how do you differentiate yourself? How do you stand out from the crowd? How do you make your words and ideas resonate with a reading audience? Read more

A Few, Good Writing Tips to Keep You on Your Toes

good writing tips

A few good writing tips to keep you on your toes

Have you ever gotten stuck in a writing project, and just when your frustration reached its peak, you heard some bit of sage advice that helped you see how to move forward?

There aren’t many writing problems that a few good writing tips can’t solve. Whether you need to develop your voice or use fewer clichés, quick tips can contain exactly the wisdom you need.

I keep a file of quotes by authors so that I can refer to their expertise when I need it. I also have several books, notebooks, and other documents filled with writing tips and techniques, and I like to review these every so often to see what I need to bring into my own work. In many cases, these tips are just quick reminders of all the lessons I’ve learned before. Read more

A Selection of Poetry Prompts from 1200 Creative Writing Prompts

poetry prompts

Poetry Prompts from 1200 Creative Writing Prompts.

Today’s poetry prompts come from my book, 1200 Creative Writing Prompts, which is jam-packed with ideas and inspiration for writers and includes prompts for fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction.

Some of the poetry prompts in the book ask you to use a list of specific words in a poem. Some give you a topic to write about. Some ask you to draw on your life experience. Some give you images to use as inspiration for a poem.

All of the prompts are designed to spark ideas and inspire you to write. And you don’t have to use the prompts to write poems. Use a prompt to write an essay or a blog post. If you get a prompt that contains a list of words but one of the words isn’t working in your poem, delete it from the list. If one of the images give you an idea for a story, write a story. Use the prompts in whatever way you see fit. Read more

How to Come Up With Writing Ideas When Your Muse is on Vacation

writing ideas

Is your muse on vacation? Get your writing ideas here!

Have you ever sat down to start a new writing project and then realized an hour later you were still sitting there, staring idly at the blank page?

Sometimes writing ideas don’t come easy.

In a writer’s ideal world, the blank page is something we always look forward to, a fresh canvas that we can color with ideas and texture with language. When our muse is dancing around, we feel motivated and inspired, so that blank page feels like the start of an exciting adventure.

But if our mind isn’t in the right place, if our muse is on vacation, that same page is nothing but a source of frustration.

When I became a professional copywriter, I had to learn how to write whether the muse was present or not. You know how muses are, fleeting little hooligans. I couldn’t rely on mine all the time. So I learned how to get along without her. That meant coming up with my own creative writing ideas. Read more

From 101 Creative Writing Exercises: Report It

101 creative writing exercises - Report It

“Report It” from 101 Creative Writing Exercises.

Today, I’m sharing an excerpt from my book, 101 Creative Writing Exercises. It’s packed with writing exercises to help you explore all forms of creative writing: fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. The book is designed to inspire you while imparting useful writing techniques that are fun and practical.

This exercise comes from “Chapter Two: It’s Personal.” The writing exercises in this chapter focus on writing of a personal nature: memoir, journal writing, and personal essays.

I chose this exercise because it’s challenging and fun. It asks you to look at your own life from a fresh perspective and make yourself the subject of a news report.

Give it a try! Then come back and tell us what you learned and how this exercise worked for you. Read more