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Plowing Together: Using Summer Activities as Writing Inspiration – Please Comment

Summer is filled with activities that we don’t do during other times of the year: trips to the beach, vacations, outdoor activities, new and exciting adventures. How do you keep thinking as a writer while you’re engaging in summer fun? How do you glean writing ideas from your summer activities?

Please comment. You might inspire someone else.


Gardening Tools: A Second Look at an Important Tool

echo_photo2Recently, I wrote an article for InSite magazine, published by the Christian Camp and Conference Association. I interviewed 12 people about tools they needed for their ministry. Needless to say, I had to record every one.

I used my “computer pen.” I’ve talked about it before but it’s worth a second look. As a writer, I use it all the time.

It’s made by Livescribe. I write on special paper. When I record with it, it syncs what’s on the paper with what’s recording. They also make pens that sync with tablets and phones, Android and iOS.

I use the most basic version and have had it for several years. It still works great. Mine syncs with my computer, which holds both the pages I wrote on and the audio. I also bought additional software for a minimal charge that converts my handwriting into text.

It’s perfect for interviews. I use the speakerphone and can record the entire discussion. No more bulky recording attachments. I can even keep my notes to a minimum, without writing it down word for word. When I transcribe the notes, I simply tap on the appropriate spot in my notes to hear the recording.

It’s also perfect for collecting writing ideas. Since the special paper comes in all different sizes, I can carry a small pad and the pen in my purse. If I hear something, I can click on the pen and record it. I can also take notes and sync up everything.

Do you keep a journal? Consider using the pen and paper. You can add audio comments to your journal. This, too, can help you find writing ideas.

In this age of computers, a pen still works for writers. This pen, no matter what style you choose, is worth the investment.

Click here for the link.

© Deborah Christensen

Plowing Together: Tools of the Trade – Please Comment

How do you hold onto your writing ideas so you don’t forget them?

I started thinking about this last week. I had a great idea for a blog post. By the time I was ready to write it, I couldn’t remember what it was. I carry an iPod Touch with me. I need to use it more to get those ideas down before they’re gone forever.

What about you? Please share your ideas here.


Let the Interview Spark Ideas

interview paperI’ve been doing interviews for years. There’s one thing I’ve discovered: I almost always discover a nugget that I never thought of before. I begin the interview with my list of questions but I usually hear something from the interviewee that takes me down another trail.

Be Sure to Listen

It’s easy to keep your focus on the next question you want to ask. You know where you want to go with your article and you want to make sure you get all the questions in. However, your interviewee may offer something that needs further investigation.

Listen to your interviewee. Interact with them, especially if you’re interviewing them over the phone. Ask questions to get them to clarify something. Ask questions to pursue a new direction. Ask questions to unearth treasures.

You may be surprised. The interview may take the focus of your article into a completely different topic. Or, you may discover something during the interview that sparks an idea for another article.

Stay alert and listen. You never know what you’ll hear.

When the Interviewee Doesn’t Say Anything

What happens when your interviewee doesn’t give a good interview? They mutter one-word answers or they don’t answer the questions. What do you do then?

It’s time to get creative. You need to think of new ways to ask the question. You approach the topic from every direction and even ask unconventional questions. In the process, you may discover writing ideas to pursue at a later time.

This isn’t ideal because you’re thinking on the fly. You’re scrambling for answers. But, ideas are there. Write down random thoughts as you try to create new questions. Go back later to see if you can glean a new writing idea from your notes.

Writers need to do interviews all the time. Think of this important aspect of writing as another field to glean writing ideas.

© Deborah Christensen

Stories from a Summer Vacation

garden of the gods desertSummer is over half over – at least if you think of summer going from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Chances are that you will take a summer vacation at some point. You’ll see new places, explore a different city or hike through nature, try new food, and spend time with the people you love. As you create memories with your family or friends, look for writing ideas and think about the insights you can share with your readers.

See the Sights

Have you ever thought of writing a travel article? Most publications that use travel pieces are looking for the unique angle. They have probably already covered the traditional travel destinations. So, do a little exploring. Find something that not many people know about.

Keep your eyes open for something special. You may meet someone you want to interview later. Introduce yourself, tell them what you’re looking for, give them your card and get contact information from them. Build that initial relationship so that when you call later for the interview, they’ll remember you.

You may find an obscure piece of history or a quirky landmark. Take a lot of photos and research it later.

Personal Stories

Whether you’re traveling with your family or a group of friends, you will find a story. How did you bond with each other? What did God teach you about each person in your group? What special memories did you create on the trip? All of these can serve as a personal experience piece.

Readers love stories. You can share your story and help your readers connect with their memories of family vacations.

Be sure to give your readers takeaway value. Help them see that God is at work in all the stories of our lives.

Solving Problems

How did you plan the vacation? How did you choose your destination? How did you budget for the trip? How did you overcome conflict? How did you find a reliable repair shop when your car broke down? How did you handle medical emergencies?

These are just some of the issues you encounter on a vacation. You can offer insights so that next summer your readers can approach their own vacations a little more prepared.

Now What?

Remember that you won’t be writing articles for this summer. All summer issues of publications are planned and out. So, you have a few months to pull your ideas together and write. Plan ahead. Journal so you don’t forget the stories. Collect pamphlets from the places you visit. Be prepared now so that your follow-up research will be much easier.

You may also think of using your destination as a setting for fiction. Get a feel for the place so that you can accurately portray it in your story.

Photos will also help you write poetry later. Take photos that touch your emotions so you remember those feelings as you write.

Vacations are fun and relaxing. But, also, keep your eyes open and glean those writing ideas.

© Deborah Christensen

This is a great post on how to capture and keep those ideas you glean.

Girls Write Out: Watch the Smitten Author Webcast!.

Random Trails: How To Be Creative When Your Brain Doesn’t Want To Play | Write to Done

This is a great post. However, I need to warn you because I don’t want to offend anyone. It’s a little long and the writer uses language that I don’t use but it’s full of great ideas.

How To Be Creative When Your Brain Doesn’t Want To Play.

Random Trails: Journal Writing Ideas: Fusing Art and Words Together | Writing Forward

I’m not artistic but art and nature inspire me. This post gave me some great ideas to get inspired.

Journal Writing Ideas: Fusing Art and Words Together.

Random Trails: Keep a Notebook By the Bed | WordPress

This is a good tip for those of us who strive to glean writing ideas from everyday life.

Quick Tip: Keep a Notebook By the Bed.

Write What You Know – And More

2013We’ve all heard it: Write what you know. Your everyday, ordinary life is full of writing ideas. You know more than you think you know. Take all that knowledge and write. But then, take a risk and move into areas where you’re less familiar.

Your Life 24/7

From the moment you get up to the moment your eyes close at night, writing ideas surround you: your journey with God, marriage, parenting, pets, caretaking elderly parents, illness, financial issues, singleness, dealing with loss, decorating ideas, forgiveness, gardening, and on and on.

Share your insights on what you’ve learned. Bring your readers with you on your journey. What is God teaching you today? What’s do you handle a disagreement in your marriage? How do you discipline your child? What works and what doesn’t? How did you discover that your pet had a health issue? How did you help your elderly parents transition to a more dependent living situation? How did you know the warning signs of a serious illness?

Do you get the idea? You know more things than you may realize.

Now Expand Your Vision

Look for ideas where you least expect them: a commercial on TV or radio, a TV show, a conversation you overhear at the grocery store, current events, the newspaper, a website, ideas from friends, your child’s homework, a song you hear. The ideas are there. You just need to recognize them as ideas.

Look for ideas in every experience, everything you read or hear, everything that comes into your life. You never know where you’ll find the next nugget of inspiration. But if you don’t look for it, you won’t see it.

Research, Research, Research

You may never know the pain of divorce or the trauma of a crime victim, but someone else does. Research expands your writing so you can then offer comfort, information or point them to where they can get help.

Research every idea. Do interviews, search the web, go to the library. Even your research can spark ideas. For example, you may be writing an article on breast cancer and discover information on how diet affects your health. It doesn’t fit into your current piece but you can use it in something else.

Step Into 2013 Full of Ideas

Start 2013 with a notebook in hand – or Notes on your smartphone, or some other way to capture your ideas. Then, write. Ideas birth more ideas.

Figure out how to use your idea in nonfiction (personal experience, how-to, personality profile, devotional), fiction (short stories, novel, character traits, plot lines), poetry, and writing for children. Take one idea and use it several ways and in every genre. You’ll increase your output.

Now, go. Write what you know – and more.

© Deborah Christensen

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

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