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Brainstorming Techniques for Writers & Bloggers

I had an epiphany recently that vastly improved my approach to writing and blogging. I’d somehow fallen under the notion that the only way I knew of to generate  writing/blogging ideas was to free-write (write without stopping or editing) until the answers came. And, yes, that kind of worked, but I was getting frustrated with having to write so many blind pages. Free writing didn’t always seem that efficient.

The  best solution is usually the simplest one. There are TONS of brainstorming techniques other than free writing. I knew this but wasn’t using them. Using a variety of brainstorming techniques mixes up the brainstorming process, makes it fun and interesting, and maybe even saves time.

Maybe you’re working on an outline but have a plot hole you’re struggling with, or you’re planning a blog post that’s missing  key ideas. Try some of these brainstorming techniques to fill in the gaps. You probably already know this, but when brainstorming remember to never censor yourself. The BEST ideas come right after the most outlandish ones. Good luck! –Eve Messenger

BRAINSTORMING TECHNIQUES FOR WRITERS & BLOGGERS by Eve Messenger

ROLE PLAY

1. Perspective Shift

Approach your brainstorming topic as if you were in a different place or time, or even as if you were a different person. What if you were in your favorite hiding spot as a kid? What if you were on Mars, in the middle of an ancient forest, in a great library, or sitting at a Paris cafe with  Lost Generation writers? What might your approach be if you were your favorite writer? What if you were the best you living life in your dream situation?

2. Attribute Change

This is like Perspective Shift, except you’re only imagining changing one aspect of yourself. Approach your brainstorming topic as if one attribute about you is different: gender, race, socioeconomic status, religion, ethnicity, nationality, profession, etc.

3. Super Power

Imagine you have a super power that lets you get right to the root of your answer. Explore your topic from that super power perspective. If your topic feels murky, imagine you’re Aqua-man (or Aqua-woman), who can see clearly beneath the water and swims quickly and powerfully toward the solution.

BE A REBEL

4. The Opposite Approach

It’s remarkable what good ideas can be sparked by exploring bad ones. Deliberately try to cause problems for your topic. Now write down those problems and see what solutions come.

5. The Five Whys

In this brainstorming technique, you get to be the little kid who asks “why” ad nauseam. Starting with your brainstorming topic/problem, ask why at least five times: “Why is this happening?” Answer. “Why is that happening?” Answer. And so on.

MIX IT UP

6. Z to A

Write whatever comes to mind starting with each letter of the alphabet, Z to A. For example, let’s say you’ve got a lot of half-ideas floating around in your head and you want to solidify which you should write on. First, solidify your question: “What should I write about in my next blog entry?” Then open up the floodgates to your subconscious and let the ideas flow. Each idea you write must begin with the next successive letter of the alphabet.  The trick in brainstorming is to not beat yourself up about bad ideas. In this brainstorming technique, you’ll come up with 26 ideas. Pick the three best ones.

Zoo animals in YA fiction.

Young people are frustrated by not being properly represented in YA fiction.

X-ray closely the dark underbelly of  publicity for YA books.

and so on until you reach “A”. . .

7. Cubing – D/C/A/A/A/A

Approach your brainstorming topic from six different angles:

  1. Describe
  2. Compare
  3. Associate (what does your topic make you think of?)
  4. Analyze (what is your topic composed of?)
  5. Apply it (how can your topic be used?)
  6. Argue for or against your topic

8. List

This brainstorming technique is simple and straightforward. Just make a list of the story/passage/character ideas and elements you want to convey.

9. Fill in the Gap

You probably already have some solid ideas for your novel or blog post, but now you’re looking to fill in the gap. Make connections from your solid ideas to the one that’s still missing. Build the bridge. Fill in the hole.

10. Commonalities

Parallel your topic with other similar topics. What does your topic have in common with what other writers have written? List the commonalities and apply them to the topic you’re brainstorming.

11. Sentence Starters

Give yourself sentence starters.
“What if ___________.”
“The way this will work is if ______________.”
“The best solution to this problem is  ________________.”

HAVE FUN WITH SCHOOL SUPPLIES

12. Mind Mapping

This brainstorming technique is probably the one many  of us  learned about in school. Get a big piece of paper or a dry erase board, In the center, write your brainstorming topic. Without censoring yourself, write down all ideas related to that topic–the sillier and more outlandish the better. After exhausting all ideas, start connecting them and branching other ideas off of them.

13. Starburst

Draw a large six-pointed star. At the tip of each point write: who, what, when, where, how, and why. In the middle write your topic/goal/problem. Now answer each of your “tip” questions.

14. Index Cards

Get a stack of ten or so index cards. On each one, jot down a key image or idea from your brainstorming topic. Now shuffle the cards, pull out one at a time, read your idea/image, and  brainstorm responses.

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Dogs, Dad, and THE Best Audio Book #amreading (barely)

Hello, fellow book junkies! Four months into 2017, and I’m already eleven books behind on my Goodreads Reading Challenge. What’s up with that?  I blame it on decompressing after the death in January of my beloved dad. (Sorry to start on a sad note, but it really does get better…) My focus has understandably been off. In my free time after work and family, instead of reading or working on my novel or blogging, suddenly watching TV shows like Chewing Gum (what a hilariously irreverent Brit-com), Long Lost Family, and Feud-Bette and Joan, and practicing Spanish on Duolingo is a lot easier than try to focus on reading words. In actual books. Oh, and I freely admit to spending too much time on Twitter rubbernecking the train wreck that is our current White House administration. Fortunately, I’m starting to wean myself off that because it is just not healthy. So, yeah, the number of books I read in a month seems to correlate to my mental state. My past two months of reading productivity has been super low–three books a month compared with an average of nine books a month before that.

TV Shows April 25

A word about dogs. . .

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned him here in my blog before, but I have this good buddy named Teddie. He is fourteen years old, follows me everywhere, is a white poodle and the smartest dog I have ever known. I swear Teddie is part human. My Yorkshire Terrier, on the other hand, is dumb but with a heart of gold. Except she hates the sound of crying babies. She growls whenever she hears the sound on television.

Here is Teddie all smiley in the car, probably working out how to drive. . .

smiley teddie 2008

An Astoundingly Good YA Audio Book. . .

And finally, because this blog is about my love of reading and writing YA lit, I must mention that I am ADORING the audio book version of Illuminae by Kaufman and Kristoff. Oh, the characters–“Bite Me” Kady, chivalrous-despite-himself Ezra. The interstellar world! And the storytelling style is OFF THE HOOK. What’s really astounding is that the audio book–with its many narrators, ship sounds, computerized voice–VERY effectively captures the genius storytelling style of the print version’s many POVs, redacted confidential reports, ship-to-ship communiques, etc. The audio book fully deserved to win the 2016 Audio Award for Multi-Voiced Performance. Illuminae may be is the most fun audio book I’ve ever listened to.

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Happy reading!

Eve Messenger

P.S. If you love languages, free website http://www.Duolingo.com is the bomb-diggety.

Poor, neglected blog. Time to check in.

I wish I were hoverboarding right now above the river, the wilderness, and the Rusty Ruins just like Tally, the protagonist in Uglies, which I am currently reading (my first Scott Westerfeld novel).

Sometimes life gets so crazy busy that even things that are important to me, like blogging, have to get shoved to the side for a while. There are so many things I want to do in life. Unfortunately, a day job is one of them. I like being a teacher, but I’m in a place right now where I truly, honestly feel that writing full-time is what I need to be doing. But tell that to my bank account. 

The good news is I continue to grow and learn as a writer. I’m still mastering the art of completing a polished novel, but with every novel I write I get better and closer to proving to myself (and hopefully to the world) that I have what it takes to make it as a professional writer. I’ve made friends in the writing community, people so far removed from my daily life it’s kind of funny, like I have an alternate life. Which I guess I kind of do. To the rest of the world I’m mom, wife, teacher, friend, errand runner, whatever. But then there’s this inner world apart from all that in which I’m the chick who’s busting her tail to become a successful published author. There are lots of dues to pay.

I try to squeeze in writing 500-100 words however I can each weekday and then several thousand more on Saturdays and Sundays. A full-time teaching schedule, then a part-time job after school (teaching at a private school and Southern California’s cost of living do not see eye to eye), then tending to family and home doesn’t leave time for hobbies, except for reading, which of course is like calling breathing a hobby.

TV? What’s TV?

One of the only TV shows I have time for is Broad City, which is an effing hilarious show. Genuinely funny women being bawdy and crude makes me happy.

My husband also recently turned me on to a show on Netflix called River, which is pretty great.

All the characters in the series look like real people–a television trend I adore, and it has an intriguing paranormal theme, too. Detective River talks to ghosts who help him solve crimes, kind of like a darker, much more British (it’s set in London, yay!) Medium (remember that show with Patricia Arquette?) The acting is excellent. The writing is, too. In fact, one scene brought tears to my eyes, when River, the downtrodden, ghost-seeing, expert detective says:

“I’m a good officer. But, in this world, that’s not enough. In this world you have to be able to nod and smile and drink a pint, and say, “How was your day?” In this world, no one can be different or strange.  Or damaged. Or they lock you up.” [River (2015), season 1, episode 2]

What was it about this line that got me so choked up? Of course, there was something about what he said that I related to, as in we have things about ourselves that we know are smart or clever or special, but people don’t always see them. The charming people who walk with the most confidence seem to get a lot. People like me who bust our tails don’t necessarily get recognition unless we also know how to play politics. That exhausts me.

Give me writing, reading, and talking to people who love those things, too. And a hoverboard.

–Eve Messenger

What is Bloglovin? I’d Really Like to Know.

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Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Okay, so I follow a lot of blogs, and I’ve heard that Bloglovin can simplify the experience by. . . wait, how does it work?

I just signed up for a Bloglovin account and apparently had to paste the above link into this post in order to claim my WordPress blog. That’s all I know so far.

If you use Bloglovin, I’d love to hear from you with any tips or insights. Thanks!

–Eve Messenger

Welcome to my 100th blog post. . . #amwriting #amreading

Hello, and welcome to my 100th blog post! Apparently, on 100 different occasions over the past ten months I have attempted to come up with something worthwhile to say in this blog. The shocker is that sometimes other people read and comment, which makes me happy. Thank you!
happy girl dancing 2

What I’ve Been Up to:

Well, I’ve been blogging a lot lately about reading YA books but haven’t talked as much about books I’m writing. For the record, writing is going well. I’m working on a dark, modern YA fantasy that I’m pretty excited about. Ideas are brewing, the main characters have life (if not set-in-stone names yet), and plotting is about 50% complete. I look forward to sharing more with you about this new novel-baby as it grows and decides what it wants to be.

Of the 100 posts I’ve written for this blog, the one with the most likes is:

How to Tell If You’re a Book Junkie

My personal favorite is:

When a Writing Dream Becomes a Mission

Random fact: April 10 is the 100th day of the year.

Another random fact: I’m kinda crazy good at Scrabble. 

 

And now we’ve reached the end of my 100th blog post. Thank you for being part of the ride!

 

 

–Eve Messenger

Everyone Deserves to Do This

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Something happened that took me out of the mad rush of my busy life and put me in a better mood. It forced me to slow down, be in the moment, and put thought into something I so rarely do: what I like about myself. For that I would like to sincerely thank Lila @ The Bookkeeper’s Secrets and her Miranda Sings Award nomination. Lila’s blog always gives me lots of delightfully bookish things to think about, and I hope you get a chance to check it out, too.

Rules

(1) Announce your win with a post, and link the blogger who nominated you.
(2) Include the featured image on your blog post.
(3) Nominate 10 bloggers (or as many as you can think of) and link your awardees in the post.
(4) List seven (7) things you love about yourself. (This can be about your appearance, your personality, your achievements, etc.)
(5) Don’t use negative connotation (i.e. Don’t say things like – “I’m prettier than an average person.” or “People have told me I’m smart.” You are pretty. You are smart.)

7 Things I Like About Myself

  1. I’m good with young children. My preschool students think I’m a rock star.
  2. I am a good writer with a great imagination.
  3. I have pretty green eyes with flecks of gray like flower petals around my pupils.
  4. When I set my mind to it, I can accomplish anything.
  5. I love cheering people on.
  6. I have really good aim, as in being able to toss M&Ms up into people’s mouths. or a wadded ball of paper into a trash can across the room.
  7. I am fun-loving and not afraid to get goofy.

I NOMINATE:

Dear nominees, if your bucket of awards and tags is already way too full, feel free to decline. And, by all means, please know that even if you’re not on this list, you are on it in spirit. If you’d like to give this award a try, go for it! –Eve Messenger

Jesalin @ –Blogging Everything Beautiful–

Nicole @ Sorry, I’m Booked

Sabrina @ SabrinaMarsiBooks

Reverie of a Glitter Aficionado

Nazahet @ Read Diverse Books

Michelle @ Michelle, Books and Movies Addict

The Orang-utan Librarian

Jane @ Family Rules

Erika @ The Book’s the Thing

Jorelene @ Page Chronicles

Mackenzie @ Mackenzie Bates Writes

Tina @ All of These Prompts

 

We Have a Winner! @amreading @kathrynpurdie

Congratulations to Erika @ The Book’s the Thing!Swag Winner Erika cropped

Erika is the lucky winner of book swag from Kathryn Purdie’s book, Burning Glass, which was featured last week in my “Best YA Debut Novels” interview series. By “liking” that post, Erika was entered to win Burning Glass book swag kindly provided by the author.

Erika, if you’ll message me with your mailing address I’ll be happy to get your prize out to you.

–Eve Messenger

 

Feature with Followers | #17

What an honor to be interviewed by one of my favorite bloggers Jess in her weekly Featured Follower meme.

-- Blogging Everything Beautiful --

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Heeeello, my lovely internet users! Today I am back with another FWF post!

Feature with Followers is a weekly meme created by JBelkBooks (me) where I will be showcasing one of my AMAZING followers. This gives me an opportunity to really get to know them and give them an opportunity to get their blogs out there in the community. The way I choose my featured follower is Top Secret, so wait for your chance to be featured!

Again, I am so very happy to share yet another wonderful blogger in our blogging community. This lovely lady is very interactive with her followers/following and I just love that so much about her. Here are some hints that may reveal who this week’s featured follower is:

  • When I think of her name I think of Christmas EVE, lol.
  • Her username is kind of like an old saying: “Don’t shoot the ____?”

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The Random Tag

Thank you to Lila @ The Bookkeeper’s Secrets for tagging me with The Random Tag and thus giving me an excuse to reveal more random facts about myself. 🙂  If you’re looking for great recommendations on books AND music, please check out Lila’s blog.

1.What is your favorite food?
Indian! Serve up the palak paneer, please. 🙂 Oh, and Korean barbecue–I can’t choose. I love all the Korean side dishes.

             

2.What are you having for dinner tonight?
My husband is a great cook (thank goodness, or we’d starve), and he made pulled pork.

3.Who was the last person you emailed? 

Kristy Acevedo.

 

 

 

4.What sports do you do?
I’m a huge fan of women’s volleyball.

volleyball

 

5.Do you have any pet hates?
When people make other people feel small.

6.Do you play any instruments?
I love playing music!! Piano, guitar, and djembe, in that order. And I love singing harmony.

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I NOW TAG . . .

Melanie Noell Bernard

Amy @ Every Book You Need to Read and More

Shatona @ The Positive Black Woman

How to Tell if You’re a Book Junkie #amreading

Directions: Mark an ‘x’ for each statement that applies to you.

[ ] 1. In lines or at doctor’s offices, when everyone else around me is tapping out messages on their cell phones, my face is buried in a book.

[ ] 2. If a novel I’m reading has a plot twist I wholeheartedly disagree with, I will complain, out loud, to my book.

[ ] 3. When I discover a new book I’d like to read, the first thing I do is to list it as “want to read” on Goodreads. Then I blog about it. 🙂

[ ] 4. If I reach for a book, my household pets jump onto my favorite reading chair.

[ ] 5. My favorite historical figure is Booker T. Washington.

[ ] 6. When I meet new people, the first question I ask is, “What kinds of books do you like to read?”

[ ] 7. The only thing better than buying new books is when someone reads—and likes—a book I’ve recommended to them.

[ ] 8. The phrase “’book’ an appointment” confuses me.

[ ] 9. If I see someone mistreating a book, I will shield it with my body.

[ ] 10. I read posts entitled “How to Tell if You’re a Book Junkie.”

If you marked ONE OR MORE of the above boxes, you are a bookie junkie and are hereby awarded this badge. Wear it with pride. 🙂

book junkie badge

Happy reading!

–Eve Messenger