How to Transform Words Into Writing Ideas

writing ideas

Words and writing ideas

I recently flipped through my copy of Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge’s Poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life with Words, and after just a couple of chapters, my imagination was on fire.

I’m always looking for new ways to inspire writing ideas, and lately I’ve been thinking that we should talk more about a writer’s most basic building blocks: words. So using words as a way to come up with writing ideas sounded ideal to me.

In Poemcrazy, Wooldridge talks about collecting words. She captures words, stores them, and then stashes them in all kinds of interesting places where they might come in handy.

As I read about how this brilliant poet gathers words so she can use them to jump-start her creative writing, I saw how the idea could apply to any kind of writer, not just a poet. I also saw how physically collecting words could be exhilarating. Read More

Sneak Peek at Forthcoming Book: What’s the Story? Building Blocks for Fiction Writing

sneak peek what's the story buiilding blocks for fiction writing

Sneak peek at What’s the Story? Building Blocks for Fiction Writing.

Today I’m excited to share a sneak peek at my forthcoming book on storytelling. It’s the first book in the Storyteller’s Toolbox series, and it’s titled What’s the Story? Building Blocks for Fiction Writing.

This excerpt is from the introduction; it talks about the magic of story and what you can expect from the book. Enjoy! Read More

TV-Inspired Writing Prompts

writing prompts

Writing prompts from your television set.

I’ve always had mixed feelings about television. It’s a bit disturbing when people spend all their free waking hours staring at a screen with their brains turned off and a glazed look on their faces. And television is unreliable as a source of information. I’ve found that many of the news shows and documentaries that air on commercial television stations are full of factual errors and misinformation. These days, we all need to double-check the facts (and sources) before repeating what we hear on TV.

On the other hand, there are some great shows that have graced television screens over the past century. Read More

What is Prose Poetry?

prose poetry

Have you ever written prose poetry?

The world of poetry is filled with various forms and structures, from haiku to sonnets. Today let’s take a look at an often under-recognized form of poetry: prose poetry.

Prose refers to writing that is structured in ordinary form — sentences and paragraphs, not verse and meter.

And of course, poetry is a form of writing that emphasizes the aesthetic qualities of language, often structured in verse. But poetry isn’t always structured in verse, which leads us to the question: What is prose poetry? Read More

Where to Find Creative Writing Inspiration (Art Begets Art)

writing inspiration

Where to find writing inspiration.

Do you ever sit down to write only to discover hours later that you’ve done nothing but stare off into space with a blank look on your face, occasionally breaking from your stupor to notice that you haven’t written a single word?

Conversely, have you ever noticed that after watching an intoxicating film or listening to a mesmerizing piece of music, you feel that creative impulse start to throb, luring you to your keyboard or notebook? Read More

How to Write More

creative writing

Creative writing tips for better productivity.

Productivity. It’s all been said and done. In fact, you could spend more time learning how to be productive than actually being productive.

For us creative types, productivity can be a fleeting thing. We experience highs (a whole month packed with inspiration) and lows (three more months fraught with the ever-annoying writer’s block).

It can be frustrating. But creative writing doesn’t have to be a fair-weather hobby. Many successful authors have harnessed creativity, reined it in, and turned it into a full-time profession. So we know it can be done.

But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Read More

From 101 Creative Writing Exercises: Everyone Has an Opinion

creative writing exercises

From 101 Creative Writing Exercises: Everyone Has an Opinion.

Today’s creative writing exercise comes from my book, 101 Creative Writing Exercises, which takes you on a adventure through various forms of creative writing: fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction.

This exercise is called “Everyone Has an Opinion,” and it’s from “Chapter Nine: Philosophy, Critical Thinking, and Problem Solving.”

Enjoy! Read More

Keeping a Journal Makes You a Better Writer

keeping a journal

Keeping a journal makes you a better writer.

The more you write, the better your writing becomes. That’s not an opinion; it’s a fact. Experience breeds expertise, so if you write a lot, you’ll become an expert writer.

Writing every day is the best way to acquire lots of experience.

Writers who come to the craft out of passion never have a problem with this. They write every day because they need to write every day. Writing is not a habit, an effort, or an obligation; it’s a necessity.

Other writers struggle with developing a daily writing habit. They start manuscripts, launch blogs, purchase pretty diaries and swear they’re going to make daily entries. Months later, frustrated and fed up, they give up.

When weeks have passed and you haven’t written a single word, when unfinished projects are littering your desk and clogging up your computer’s hard drive, you can give up and take out a lifetime lease on a cubicle in a drab, gray office. Or, you can step back, admit that you have a problem, and make some changes. Read More

What’s The Difference Between Dashes and Hyphens?

dashes and hyphens

Dashes and hyphens.

To the passive reader, it’s a short horizontal line that appears somewhere in a text, usually joining two words together.

To a writer, it’s something else entirely, but what? Is it a dash, a hyphen, or a minus sign?

More than once, I’ve been pecking away at my keyboard and stopped suddenly when confronted with this versatile and confounding punctuation mark.

Many people use dashes and hyphens interchangeably, which is understandable, since most of us use the exact same keyboard character for both dashes and hyphens. However, they are technically two completely different punctuation marks. Read More

10 Tips for Submitting Your Writing and Getting Published

getting published submission tips

Tips for submitting your creative writing and getting published.

Your short story is finished. Your poem is polished. Your personal essay has been proofread. Now you’re ready to submit your creative writing project for publication.

How do you do it? Where do you find the right publication? What materials should you send? Should you use email or snail mail? How long do you wait before following up? And what if your piece is rejected?

For many writers, the submission process is a big drag because it doesn’t involve writing, and let’s face it, most of us are in it for the writing.

But there’s more to being a writer than just writing, especially if you want your work to be read or if you want to make a living as a writer.

Tips for Submitting Your Creative Writing and Getting Published

If you approach the submission process strategically and professionally, you’ll increase the chances that your work will be accepted and published. Whether you’re submitting to agents or editors, here are some tips for submitting your work and getting published:




  1. Take some time to familiarize yourself with various agents, publishing houses, and publications in your genre. Send your work to the ones that are a good fit for your form, genre, and style.
  2. Use the library or visit a local, independent bookstore to get copies of print publications like literary journals. You can also try college bookstores. Peruse them in the aisles if you wish, but keep in mind that buying copies of these publications helps support them — and other writers.
  3. You’ll find submission guidelines on most agents’ and publications’ websites. Otherwise, they’ll be in the publication itself. Review the guidelines carefully as they contain instructions on how to submit your work. This is crucial because agents and publications have their own submission guidelines.
  4. Follow the submission guidelines to the letter. Agents and publications that are overwhelmed with submissions might toss out any that stray from the guidelines they’ve established.
  5. In some cases, the guidelines may refer to a style guide. If this is the case, you might need to buy a style guide and revise your work so it will be in accordance with the guidelines.
  6. Keep your query and cover letter succinct and professional. Same goes for a synopsis (if applicable). Don’t try any fancy antics to get agents’ or editors’ attention. They see gimmicks all the time.
  7. Once you’ve sent your submission, sit back and wait. Do not harass or annoy agents or editors by bombarding them with follow-ups.
  8. Many submission guidelines include information about how long it should take to receive a response. Once that allotment of time has passed, go ahead and send a single follow-up. Ask if they received your submission. Be professional.
  9. If there is no indication of how long it should take for you to receive a response, wait six weeks to three months before following up.
  10. If you receive an acceptance, great! If you receive a rejection, accept it graciously and get back to work. Don’t give up! If your rejection includes a critique or any helpful feedback, be grateful (most agents and editors don’t take time to provide feedback) and apply it to your future creative writing projects.

Ready, Set, Submit

Submitting your work is fun and a little bit scary. Hopefully you’ll get lucky, but remember that luck comes most frequently to those who have prepared for it with hard work. If your writing gets rejected, try again. Send the same piece to another agent or publication and keep producing fresh work.

Remember, creative writing is hard work. We writers have to wear many different hats. We must be artists, grammarians, and communicators. We have to be publicists and marketing experts. And we have to become pros at submitting our work.

Otherwise it may never end up in readers’ hands.

Do you have any tips to add? Have you submitted your creative writing to agents or publications? Do you have any strategies for getting published? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.