5 Writing Tools for Inspiration

Today I thought I would share 5 tools that I use for inspiration when I’m feeling a little blocked.

  1. Story Cubes–these little guys have images on them, and are shaped like dice. You toss them, and take the images from them to craft a tale.
  2. Pinterest–I go searching for the term “writing prompt” and discover ideas this way.
  3. Dictionary.com–I simply open the site and look for the word of the day (which should be at the top of the home screen). I use this word to write a scene.
  4. Flickr.com–Going to the front page for Flickr will bring up new photos I haven’t seen before. These images are the prompt–either a combination of 5 or 6 images, and a solo image can be the prompt for writing a piece.
  5. On this Day–there are many apps and sites out there that will give you a recap of the world’s history, based upon today’s calendar date. I can use any of these facts from the day’s “on this day” bit to prompt and write a short story or article.

What are some of the tools you use to induce creativity?


Writer’s Resource: Write or Die

Last night during our writer’s group, this site came up. I thought I should share it, for any fellow writers out there who haven’t seen it.

Write or Die

A site that times you as you write–giving sound-byte rewards for completing a set period of time writing, or punishments if you stop writing during that pre-set time. Maybe some good prep for NaNoWriMo. Or, depending on exactly how the updated version of this works, great for NaNoWriMo. Check it out beforehand. See if it’s effective for you. Use it if it is!

12 Tips for Scheduling Your Writing Time for NaNoWriMo

I’ve had many people ask how I can make time to write NaNoWriMo every year. I’ve had another friend tell me, “Not this year, but next year. It will be less crazy. Then I can do it.”

All of you heard that excuse she gave. You know that friend won’t get around to NaNoWriMo next year, either, unless something in her attitude changes. November is always a crazy month, in a crazy season, leading up to an even crazier season. That’s just how it is.

So, how does one schedule around this craziness called life, and, you know, work and earning a living and things?

It’s both extremely easy, and exponentially difficult at once–and it all comes down to decision and commitment, and a few simple steps.

NaNoWriMo “schedules” you to write 1,667 words per day to reach that 50,000 word count goal within the 30 days of November. But here are my tips on how to actually reach that goal.

  1. Aim for higher than 1,667 words per day. This not only gets more words in, but also gives “make up word counts” for days on which you cannot fulfill the minimum words.
  2. Set a higher goal than merely 50,000 words–why? Because then if you don’t make that 75,000 word goal, you’re still more likely to have reached 50,000 words.
  3. KEY: set side 1 hour per day, minimum, every single day of NaNoWriMo, for writing.
  4. Set everything up for your writing nook before November 1.
  6. If at all possible, have that writing nook separate from your normal work or play space–set up just for the month of November. This helps with keeping it organized and ready each day for writing.
  7. Write at any free moment you have. 10 minutes waiting in a doctor’s office? Bring your laptop with you, or download an app that will let you write. Dump it to your computer that night.
  8. Bulk up on your writing “supplies” before November 1. Need tea to keep you going? Buy it in advance. Need pens because you’re old-fashioned and do it all by hand? Have enough around that you don’t have to shop for them (or any other supplies) during November.
  9. Tell your family, roommates and/or friends that every night from 8-10pm (or whatever your writing time is), you are unavailable for phone calls, emails, texting, Words with Friends or any other thing that takes you away from writing. You are WRITING, and only emergencies will be observed. (And only things like uncontrolled bleeding, massive vomiting and anything bordering on death constitutes emergencies.)
  10. Set an alarm or other reminder that goes off each day (with advance warnings, if possible) to remind you to get started on your writing.
  11. Set an alarm to end that scheduled time. This keeps you on schedule. You’re busy, we get that–so respect your own time.
  12. Write away from the internet as much as possible. This helps to minimize distractions. (My husband uses a word processor for NaNoWriTing–no internet access at all possible!)

Every year that I’ve done these things, I’ve more than written 50,000 words in 30 days or less.

Time to Hunker Down


Hercules – Largest Liger
Guinness World Records 2012
Photo Credit: Jamers Ellerker/GuinnessWorld Records
Location: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, USA

People ask how I’ve written, edited and published books/projects in short time-spans in the past.  The answer is: focus.

How each of us focuses is going to be different.  For some, that focus comes through forcing oneself to sit down everyday with a goal, not “allowing” themselves to get up until that goal is reached.  For others, that focus comes through getting alone in a quiet atmosphere with nothing but a computer, warm yellow lamp, scented candles and a goal.  Yet others must sit with earphones, a cup of tea and an hourly goal before getting up for a break.

I’m a mixed writing animal.  Kind of like a liger, I guess.  I take elements from visual learners, linear thinkers and caffeine amped-up college students, and fitness freaks.  Combined with my own special breed of…me.

And it’s time to hunker down and get focused.  For me, that means the following:

  • Stop watching t.v./movies
  • Focus the playlist to the type of music my fictional band would produce
  • Light up the Christmas lights and candles (ambiance makes all the difference for me)
  • Heat up the teapot
  • Pull out the dumbbells
  • Stay off of Facebook
  • Take breaks from writing with music books
  • Take breaks from writing with my guitar
  • Re-read the prior 3 chapters to the current one
  • Daily re-read the song list of my fictional band
  • Regularly review the “to do” list for the book (things to add or change as the book is revised)

Many of these things have exceptions (such t.v./movies–if they are in the right era or mood of the book I’m writing, that’s a perfectly relaxation activity for a break between writing stints), but for the most part, I have to stick to this list if I want to finish my book completely by my May 17 publication date.

How do you focus for your writing projects?

Manuscript for "Nobody's Girl"

Manuscript for “Nobody’s Girl”


Since I have finished NaNoWriMo, it’s time to get to back to the book I’m still intending to be ready for publication this year…  Thought I’d share my basic steps for it now.  I’ll expand on the stages as I go through them with the book I’m editing now.  It’s the process I used to edit my book last year, and it worked well.  So, here we go!

  1. Rough draft
  2. Initial read-through
  3. Highlight modifiers and dialogue
  4. Cut out as many modifiers as necessary
  5. Break up into scenes
  6. Read each scene independently–asking “does this move the story forward”?, “is this scene complete as is?”, “is this scene well written,” etc.
  7. Remove unnecessary scenes
  8. Add missing information/scenes
  9. Second read through
  10. Build dialogue/internalization from narrated stuff
  11. Third read through
  12. Fourth read through
  13. Submit to proof-readers
  14. Fifth read through
  15. Take comments from readers and edit as needed
  16. My own proof-reading
  17. Final read through aloud with corrections


Just Jade Inspired–NaNoWriMo 2013



Using music to allow for inspiration is only one of the components for writing.  At least when you’re me.  I also love to create book covers, edit photos and just look at places, faces and other images that reflect the heart of the story I’m writing.  And since most of “Just Jade” is taking place in Europe, I’m wandering back in time through my own adventures in Europe, looking at photos, and letting those images evoke memories and emotions.



If you’ve got some images from your story’s location as you work on your NaNoWriMo novel for 2013, I recommend looking through them.  Or go to Wikipedia and look some up.  Or google images search.  Or Pinterest.



I experienced many adventures during the various times I have gone to Europe, and I have loved all of those memories, even the sad or scary ones.  So, here are a few of the edited images from the journeys I’ve taken through Europe, as Jade is inspired to take life.



11 Steps to Trimming the Fat on Your Obese Manuscript

Mystic Prose from "Forever My Song"

Mystic Prose from “Forever My Song”

My latest manuscript, my NaNoWriMo novel, “Forever My Song” was a rough draft outline of 80,000+ words.  With 71 chapters.  That’s a bit much for a non-epic novel.  Sadly.  And I’ve been stuck for weeks on this one…been trying desperately to make some progress, and though “writer’s block” has not been the issue, finding the next place to go with the manuscript has been because of feeling overwhelmed by the magnitude of it.  Well, last night, I managed to figure out what my problem was (as you guessed by the number of chapters), I had too much info in this for one book, one story, one set of characters.

“But I can’t cut that!  It’s too important!”  Yeah, yeah.  You’ve heard that in your own head as you’ve edited, too, haven’t you?  “Well, tough toe-nails, Juanita!  Cut it anyway!”  And that’s what I did.  I sat down with the original 71 chapter outline and this is what I did.

  1. I turned off my emotions…and separated myself from my beautiful characters–this step is key, my friends!
  2. I examined which current characters were necessary for the story, and which weren’t (I’m sorry Davy!  I promise you will find a home in some other novel.)
  3. Then I cut the chapters that focused on the no longer existent characters
  4. And merged the info from the chapters still needed from those chapters with other chapters
  5. Then I created 3 different documents containing the outline, each one identical at this stage
  6. Next, I cut the fluffy chapters out of outline #1
  7. After that, I squished several other chapters together in outline #2
  8. And then, I trimmed 2-3 other chapters in outline #3
  9. Then I reviewed what I had done in each outline, and created a fourth outline from these
  10. Then, I cut more fluff by chopping out more chapters that didn’t actually move the plot forward
  11. Then I went back and reviewed the original outline to make sure I hadn’t cut anything actually vital to the story

And I ended up with only 49 chapters of the original 71 (that’s 22 chapters cut!).

Trimming the fat in a manuscript feels a bit like cutting out the chub on your waistline: you sweat a bit, and it hurts, takes dedication and requires some encouragement and lots of time.  This whole process took me about two hours, after making the outline itself took me about four hours.  Of course, as I continue writing, I will have more fat to trim.  But that’s okay.  At least now I can move forward with the writing.  But, if your next book project is morbidly obese like mine was, it’s time to wake up and get to the gym for the first session.  And then the second, and third and fourth and fifth…

More of Mystic Prose from "Forever My Song"

More of Mystic Prose from “Forever My Song”