Odd Places to Find Writing Ideas

Sometimes, writing ideas just come to me without even thinking of a new idea. Very few times, I’ll stare at the wall, struggling to think of a story line or a good twist.

Well, one of the best tips to find that idea is view the world around you.

  • Watch TV
    • Watch Judge Judy or some of the other televised judges. Some of the stories people come up with for their cases would make for a good book, as long as you put in your own plot twist.
    • Dateline / 2020 / or any of the crime drama shows.
  • Read
    • Read some of the classics. I’ve seen people write books with new spins off of Shakespeare or Grimm Brothers.
    • Some of the stories in the Old Testament of the Bible can draw some wonderful plot ideas.
  • Talk to people
    • Talk to your grandparents. My grandma loves to tell stories of her grandparents when she was a child. They were Native American, so hearing of how they lived on a social level back in the early 1900s and the family drama is fascinating.
  • Explore new locations
    • If you have an extra day or so, pull out a map and take a day trip. Try to hit several towns / cities in that area to drive to. Visit museums, art galleries, coffee shops, parks in that area. Sometimes, just being in a new environments will give you that push you need.

L. R. Mauck

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The Motivational Character

Let’s face it, there are times when we are down a mental or physical destructive path and we cannot get ourselves out of it. So, we turn to that one person who always knows the right thing to say or do to help us. Some times it’s a parent, a teacher, or a friend that will give us the perfect advice that we need.

I recently bought several seasons of the Boy Meets World television series. I remember Mr. Feeny always as the inspirational rock in the show. He always offered sound advice and never hesitated to point out where people were wrong. He even apologized a few times when he was in the wrong. You can’t hardly find anyone like his character in shows today.

However, there are several in books: Albus Dumbledore (Harry Potter), Gandolf the Grey/White (Hobbit and Lord of the Rings), Atticus Finch (To Kill A Mockingbird), Charlotte (Charlotte’s Web), etc. If you google it, you can find so many character’s who mean sometime to anyone based on actions and/or reasoning.

You can see quotes all over the internet that are inspirational. I want to encourage you, as a writer, to make your characters a little more than just run of the mill. I want your characters to have meaning in life, to inspire others to reach for those goals that others say they can’t reach, to get up when they have been beaten down so hard that they can barely physically move. I want them to face battles (war, health, drama) head on with the idea that they will overcome it or die with dignity. Have that motivational character always in the background, cheering the main character(s) on. Even in romance novels, you can make it to where the main characters need that push to open up their hearts again by having them gain advice from others.

Yes, this is a hard thing to do. You, as a writer, need to step out of your character’s world and reach out to the reader. Meet the reader on a deeper field with the same words to inspire other characters.

Note: You don’t have to clutter your novel up with meaningful messages from cover to cover (unless you’re writing a Chicken Soup book). Just place a few well meaning words at the start or close of the climax and it should work wonders.

L.R. Mauck

P.S. This was written while at work. I apologize if it doesn’t flow well or there are mistakes.

When your Muse is Gone

Many artists – from musicians to actors to chefs to athletes to painters to writers – will draw inspiration from something other than themselves. It can be anything from someone close to you to an idea or goal to a physical object to a personal experience to a spiritual level. This source of inspiration is what is called a muse.

Having a muse can be great. It gives you an outside perceptive (out of the box look) to view your work. The more muses you gain, the larger pool of inspiration you can pull from.  However, a muse can be bad when it is suddenly gone. Trying to find your creativity is like being lost in the middle of a wooded wilderness. You have an idea and a direction, but you just can’t put one foot in front of the other.

This is where I am now.

For many, many years, writing is a hobby of mine. To help me focus on my writing, I use music as background noise. But, when my favorite band comes on, my mind uses their music as a source to write by. If it’s a scene that is very active or intense, I’ll listen to one of their hard rock songs. Those scenes do tend to pick up speed that matches the songs. When it needs a slower, calmer scene, I’ll listen to some of their more meaningful songs. The lyrics are absolutely amazing and can speak so many different levels that I have never been unable to relate to any of their albums. Now that I’m on Twitter, I see just how down to earth each of the members of the band are and how, even now, interact often with their fans. If you have read any of my previous posts, you would know instantly that I’m speaking of Linkin Park.

Just after joining Twitter last year, I followed the band and assumed that they would continue putting out new albums up until we are all deaf from old age and I wouldn’t care any more. Then, sadly, July 20th happened that sent an earthquake through many fans and stopped the band in their tracks. It still hard to believe that Mr. Bennington is no longer here. I had no idea just how much the band had influenced my writing over the years until those days immediately following his death. I sincerely felt that this was the last of Linkin Park. Just that thought seemed to freeze every new creative notation within me. I had many ideas already recorded prior on a single flash drive (yes, I know backups save lives). Then the flash drive disappeared in the fall. You all probably saw that my blog posts started tapering off. I no longer had an outline of topics. My writing in general has been suffering as well.

But Mike Shinoda (of Linkin Park) surprised many with releasing three new songs this year that were created solely by him. Over the last few weeks, I’ve listened to the songs. When the songs first played, I examined the content of the songs and mentally compared them to other Linkin Park songs. Then later, I thought about how I felt when Chester passed. But tonight as I’m currently listening to the songs right now, they finally clicked in my head. Linkin Park drew their own inspiration from the paths they walked themselves. Mr. Shinoda is still doing the same thing with his new material. Each song speaks of exactly how he found his way to get back to his craft. He was lost after his band mate’s death and needed to find that first step to getting his life back. Then he had to deal with grieving while on stage (literally and figuratively). I can’t imagine how they would have felt, but the songs give a window into the roller coaster of grief.

This was what I needed tonight. To see what I myself must do. Yes, Linkin Park will still be my muse for much of what I do. But I need to look to myself and make those necessary steps to get back on track.

Ways to get passed your dead muse &/or writers block

  • Set aside a time to think about your story. Take notes.
  • Read – the more you read, the more your imagination is in use
  • Interview your characters
    • One suggestion I received was to write a background story of how the characters met
  • Research – the more you work with your material, the more twists or ideas will aid you
  • Set aside a time to WRITE
    • There are times that you just have to get your hands dirty
    • Set a daily goal to write just a paragraph, then increase it as you start writing
    • Setting a timer beside you will help push you and keep you focus to write the word count goal and not give into checking Twitter or playing cards
  • If you can’t find the inspiration you need where you typically write, change locations
    • Just don’t try writing in front of the tv. Trust me, it doesn’t work.
  • Talk to someone or out loud to a wall about your story. Hearing it verbally described will make you think more about your characters and the overall story plot. They may even be able to offer additional ideas to use.
  • If you aren’t on twitter, you need to be. There are so many other writers on there offering support and tips.

I hope these help you in your writing. I am still struggling, but I’m setting a daily goal of writing. Every little bit will build to a story.

L. R. Mauck

When to Write Your Emotions

This is a topic that is a little hard to pinpoint. However, I have personally been told for years that I need to record my emotions when I’m feeling something intense so that I can tap into that emotion later when I’m writing a character that may experience the same thing. A life reflection as if were for an author through their character.

For a huge majority of situations, I agree.

For me personally, I have a journal like book for where I store all my story ideas, plot twists, and poems. Some ideas have been written elsewhere and later taped inside this journal book. However, among the pages I have recorded my thoughts and feelings after breakups, I’ve wrote recaps of first dates. I have written of situations of where I’ve been terrified due to someone attempting to break into my home while I was home. I taken time to sit outside and do a writing exercise of what it is like to be there: what my thoughts, feelings, and what I physically see and hear. I do honestly believe this helps create a more realistic experience to come through your writing.

But the hardest writings I have ever recorded has been of my grandparents passing.

I am writing this entry on the same evening of my best friend’s grandfather’s passing, so you are reading a near emotional entry for me. I liked the man. Each time I met him, he wanted to know personally how I was and would ask questions about my family. He didn’t write me off as just a friend of his granddaughter, but genuinely wanted to visit with me. I know my friend is in for a hard night and the next several days ahead. My heart aches for her and her family. I’m thankful that she has her husband, her family and friends to be there for her.

Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park has said many times that grief is personal. I agree with him. It’s a journey that comes in waves. One day you can be laughing and joking about what that person has said or done, and another day, you remember the way they smile and suddenly the tears won’t stop. It has been twelve years since my grandmother passed and not yet two years since my grandfather. With both of their deaths, I wrote basically a play by play of when I was informed and immediately of what followed or in my grandpa’s case, I was there with him when he went. To this day, it is very hard to read those entries, but I’m grateful I did. Those moments were some of the worst moments of my life, but it was a part of me. It shows my hurt, my anger, and my love. I even noted all those around me and what they said for comfort.

These two entries were written because writing is an outlet for me. However, these entries will never be made public because it is personal. I may reread them with the idea that I want to tap into that moment to help express for a character to relate, but it won’t be the same. Our characters may begin as part of us, but their story takes them on a different path with situations that we may personally never be in or would react the same. The sorrow may be felt on near the same level, but our reactions will be different from our characters.

It is helpful to write of our experiences to use for our books, but I do suggest for you to pause when you write of grief. No two people will be affected the same way.

To my friend if you read this entry, I know my grief is nothing compare to what you are experiencing right now, but I’ll be beside you, mourning as well. I liked your grandfather. I know he was stubborn at times, but remember his smiles. Remember his laugh. Think of the good times you got to share with him. It won’t make the pain go away, but it’ll make it feel less. Every thought you remember of him, he’ll be with you. You have a long road ahead of you, but you are not alone. Remember that.

L. R. Mauck

100th Blog Post

I want to do something a bit different with this particular post. I want to address you on a personal level.

We all have very busy lives where we are pulled in several different directions. Sometimes in the madness, we lose ourselves in who we are and our own valued worth. Whether you are a husband, wife, father, mother, sister, brother, pet owner, or have bonds or interactions with those outside your family, you matter to someone. Take that thought and expand on it. You not only matter to someone, but you have personally influenced everyone you come in contact with. Without you, someone’s life would be very different. You are important and loved.

Everyone has low points in their lives that drag them down mentally and/or physically. Sometimes it can be the situations around us or it can be a personal battle. You are worth it, so keep pushing forward.

If you have made a New Year’s resolution this year – great for you. I wish you all the best. For every day or hurdle you pass is another one to show just how strong you are. For you are strong. Believe in yourself that you can do it and you will succeed.

Most of you who follow this blog are fellow authors. Your writing is your craft. Your very first draft of your story is not going to be perfect. Practice makes perfect or, better phrased, revisions make perfect. You will get rejections if you seek out publications, but it is not the end of the world. It does not mean that your writing is horrible or that no one will like all your hard work. It just means that either you haven’t found the right fit yet or its’ not that books time. Keep pushing. All artist struggle at first, but if you want it, you will get it.

Remember that you are loved, worth it, and strong.  I wish you all the best in all you do.

Keep writing and keep learning.

L.R. Mauck