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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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Goals for 2017 – Writing, Reading, Relationships, Peace of Mind

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Hello, fellow book junkies! Happy New Year! ‘Tis the season, so I’ll get this out there. In putting together my goals for 2017, I’ve kept things simple and focused on what will give me joy and peace of mind. Here are my:

Goals for 2017.

  • Finish writing & polishing YA dark modern fantasy manuscript by May 1, 2017.
  • Read more YA books featuring bi females and write a blog post about them.
  • Spend time with people. Nurture relationships.
  • Walk every day.
  • Keep going on Saturday morning hikes.
  • Read 96 books.
  • Devote more time to keeping the house looking nice.
  • Never, never, never, never give up.

–Eve Messenger

Four Facts Survey

Some people seem to know themselves quite well. They have clear likes and dislikes and distinctive personalities. Maybe it’s because my head is in the clouds most of the time, but I don’t think I’m one of those self-aware people. That’s why it’s nice when a tag like this  comes along to bring me back down to earth and get me thinking about what makes me tick. For that I have smart, funny, forward-thinking Rae @ Bookmark Chronicles to thank. Rae discusses so many intelligent topics in her blog, not the least of which is, of course, books. 🙂 I hope you get a chance to check out her blog.

Rules:

  • Answer the questions
  • Nominate 4  people to answer the same questions

The Questions

Four names People Call Me Other Than My Real Name:

Eve / “V” / Mom / “Honey”

Four Jobs I’ve Had:

Music/foreign language teacher, vocal arranger, Acquisitions & Divestitures Coordinator (sorry, that really was my title, ha), waitress

Four Movies I’ve Watched More Than Once:

Groundhog Day, Zoolander, Galaxy Quest, Love with a Proper Stranger (w/Natalie Wood & Steve McQueen)

Four Authors I’d Recommend:

V.E. Schwab, Cassandra Clare, Libba Bray, Marie Lu

Four Places I’ve Lived:

Japan, Taiwan, Virginia, Southern California

Four Places I’ve Visited:

San Francisco, Vancouver, Seattle, Cancun

Four Things I’d Rather Be Doing Now:

Writing, playing with my dogs, finding new music, talking to my friends

Four Foods I Prefer Not to Eat:

avocados, guacamole, anything sour, marmalade

Four Favorite Foods:

sushi, chicken curry, b’bim bop, chicken tortilla soup

Four TV Shows I Watch:

Orphan Black, Broad City, Walking Dead, The Little Couple

Four Things I’m Looking Forward to This Year:

  • Having lots of time during summer vacation to write, read, exercise and play piano.
  • Taking a trip sometime in August (not sure where yet–any suggestions?)
  • Finishing my novel.
  • Getting healthy again.

Four Things I’m Always Saying:

“I totally get that.”
“Have a great weekend.”
“Absolutely.”
“I don’t want to talk about politics.”

–Eve Messenger

Four People I Nominate:

Lila @ The Bookkeeper’s Secret
Blaise @ The Book Boulevard
Beth @ The Books are Everywhere
Jesalin @ Blogging Everything Beautiful 

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

Sunshine Blogger Award

Yay, I get to be a “Sunshine Blogger” and answer some questions thanks to friendly, super smart, book-loving  Lila @ The Bookkeeper’s Secrets. Lila is truly a wonderful book blogger, so I hope you get to check out her blog.

The Rules:

  • Answer the 11 questions from the blogger who nominated you.
  • Nominate some wonderful bloggers and write 11 questions for them to answer.

Lila’s Questions:

1. What/who makes you smile the most? Acts of kindness and my hilarious daughter make me smile the most.

2. Would you ever get a tattoo? If so, of what? I’m not planning on getting body art any time soon, but if I did it would be a tattoo of my good luck symbol, a hummingbird.

3. What do you think heaven looks like? I think heaven is unimaginable for us mere mortals.

4. What’s the first item on your bucket list? Good question! The number one item on my bucket list is a trip to Europe. I have a special affinity for Scotland and Norway and am forever wanting to include Scotland as a setting in my stories.

5. If you could ride the Whirling Teacups at Disneyland with one person, alive or dead, who would you choose?  I would, for sure, ride the Whirling Teacups with someone who doesn’t mind me throwing up on them.
https://i1.wp.com/i.imgur.com/9sK8ZDV.gif

6. Plaid and polka dots or stripes and florals–which combination is more visually appealing? Stripes and florals, definitely. Spring flowers are my favorite!https://i0.wp.com/bodyonept.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/spring-flowers.jpg

7. What does licorice taste like? (I ask this out of genuine curiosity as, due to my celiac disease, I can’t have licorice 😉  Black licorice tastes like bitter gasoline (to me), so you’re really not missing anything there.

8. Coke or Pepsi? On the rare occasions that I drink soda, I am Team Coke all the way.

.

9. Are you enjoying yourself atm? As a matter of fact, I am. 🙂

10. Is there a pattern to these questions? If so, what? Ggaaghh, I find no pattern to these questions.

11. What is life??? Life is what we try to live to the fullest by maintaining connections with good people and exploring our talents.

I Nominate:

Annika @ Annika Perry’s Writing Blog
The Orang-utan Librarian
Michelle, Books & Movies Addict
Michelle @ The Bibliophile Struggle
A Stranger’s Guide to Novels
Nazahet @ Read Diverse Books
Beth @ Betwixt-These-Pages
Jess @ –Blogging Everything Beautiful–
Larkin @ Wonderfilled Reads
Nicole @ Sorry, I’m Booked
Alyia @ A.J. Helms

Eve’s Questions:

  1. What are three things that make you laugh?
  2. What’s your favorite daydream?
  3. Would you rather have the power to shapeshift or to make yourself invisible?
  4. What’s one of your favorite stupid pun jokes? (Example: “Why did Adele cross the road? To say hello from the other side.”)
  5. Do you like stickers?
  6. What’s your favorite social media and why?
  7. Do you sleep with the light on or off?
  8. If you performed in a talent show, what would your talent be?
  9. Have you ever handwritten a letter? If yes, to whom did you mail it and when?
  10. What’s your favorite thing to do with friends?
  11. Big or small, what’s something you’ve done that you’re really proud of?

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

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/RS0KyTZ3Ie4/maxresdefault.jpg

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

 

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 Real 7/7/7 Challenge #amwriting

7-7-7 challenge

Talented super writer/reader ladies Melanie Noell Bernard  and Elena Johansen both tagged me for the 7/7/7 Challenge, so does this mean I should do a 14/14/14 tag? Okay, not.

When I first saw this tag (two months ago, yes, it’s taking me that long to get caught up on book tags)I assumed I was supposed to type 7 lines from page 7 of a book I am READING. Of course, the directions clearly state the passage should come from MY OWN work in progress, which I didn’t notice until after I’d already located and typed out 7 lines from The Casquette Girls.

Anywho. . . here’s the not-exactly-earth shattering passage from my work in progress, a modern day YA paranormal that’s been a ton of fun to write.

Rules

  • Go to page 7 of your work-in-progress.
  • Scroll down to line #7.
  • Share the next 7 lines of your manuscript in a blog post.
  • Tag 7 other writers (with blogs) to continue the challenge.

Eve’s 7/7/7 Snippet

“Adam?”

From the other side of the door, Adam clears his throat and answers in a voice much lower than I’ve ever heard from him. “What is it, Callie?”

It feels strange to hear him say my name since he’s never used it before.

“How’s the cat?” I ask.

“Not. . . good.” Adam still hasn’t opened his bedroom door.

“I. . . uh, want to tell you something.”

Nominees

Kelly F. Barr

Herminia @ aspiringwriter22Author Kelly Miles

Mackenzie Bates

Jon Stephens @ Start Your Fiction

 

Millie Schmidt

Danielle @ The Caffeinated Writer