Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Protest SOPA and PIPA to stop internet censorship

On Jan 24th, Congress will vote to pass internet censorship in the Senate, even though the vast majority of Americans are opposed. We need to kill the bill - PIPA in the Senate and SOPA in the House - to protect our rights to free speech, privacy, and prosperity. Learn more at the SOPA Infographic and by visiting Stop American Censorship

Writers depend on social media, social networking, an independent sites to promote their work and keep in touch with fans. This bill could seriously infringe on our ability to continue sharing and self-expression. It also threatens information made available through libraries and school libraries, especially, are in danger through budget cuts. Where will it end? Please educate yourself and join the protest!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Finding Ideas: Train Your Brain

New classes began this week for several venues in which I teach—college level writing skills, creative and nonfiction writing, and storytelling with my elementary students. No matter the age or level of the writer, before you can write, you need ideas.

Ideas are all around us, but many new writers need to train themselves to recognize ideas. Yes, being open to ideas from our experiences comes with time. This is also why journaling is beneficial. Before you decide to journal, though, spend some time answering questions.

What's on your mind? What do you wonder about? Record interesting bits of overheard conversation. Describe interesting people you meet or notice. As you write about what has happened in your life and record enjoyable experiences, it's easier to see potential ideas as they surface.

Another way to train your brain to notice ideas is to make a list every evening. What errands, events, incidents, people, activities, and places made up your day? Even if you only list two or three items each evening, by the end of the week you'll have a longer list to work with. Now, use three large index cards to categorize the list. Mark one card "characters," one "plot points," and the last card "details." Transfer items from your list to the appropriate card. For example, events and incidents go on "plot points" while sensory experiences and descriptors go on "details." Interesting people you've dealt with, from cashiers and bank tellers to rowdy kids, go on "characters." Jumbling items from all three cards will create prompts for story writing.

Continue organizing those ideas; the more ideas you collect, the easier it will be to translate them from experience to story idea.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Write Through the Year

I've had a nice long break from teaching. Writing workshops concluded just after Thanksgiving. Teaching for both elementary arts enrichment students and college students concluded the second week in December. That makes it from 4-6 weeks since some of my students have seen me.

My workshops students, however, have been in contact. Not every one of them, but several. Most have asked for advice on how to keep up their writing, so I've decided to add postings to Word Coach to help them out. I'm calling them "Write Through the Year" and I'll answer questions about finding ideas, keeping a writer's journal, various craft elements, creating or finding critique groups, and so on. Stay tuned!