Most writers have a quirky compartment in the brain — it’s where they store phrases, words, bits of information, quotations, little known facts, old phone numbers and sometimes meaningless expressions. It’s also where, more often than not, writers go for inspiration and where they retreat when the coffeepot runs dry and the conscious mind says, “I can’t do this!”
Freelance writing can be a roller coaster ride of delight when the words flow effortlessly and clients are happy. It can also be a slow train ride through the pitch black house of horrors when ideas don’t take shape and disconnected sentences hang out like lifeless ghosts.
Without a doubt, writing is hard work. It’s not physical in the way that ditch digging is, and it’s not repetitive in the way working on an assembly line can be. But mental muscles also require periodic massage and frequent stimulation.
Thievery, Collecting and Magic
Many writers are collectors — of little known facts, old phone numbers, outdated expressions, unrelated phrases, and seemingly useless information. Many are also thieves. They’ll steal a smile, abscond with a mental image of the sunset, a fluffy cloud or a bubbling brook, the color of a rose, a baby’s cry, an angry word or a high note perfectly sung.
All those things are filed away for the future.
Writers are also magicians. Most thoughts have already been expressed, in at least a thousand different ways. The magic comes when old ideas take on new life with different words.
Flights of Fancy
Inspiration is everywhere. Children’s books and science fiction, rock music and rap, a walk in the woods and a stroll on the beach, bees and puppies, chocolate and coffee, sports stats and geographical oddities. The trick is making sense of the abundance of resources.
Successful writers learn to access that hidden treasure trove on demand, pulling out the necessary pieces to enliven the latest writing assignment, whether it’s a blog post, a product description or a white paper. To accomplish that:
- Acknowledge your interests. If your passion is sports, anchor as much of your writing as possible with sporting terms and game analogies; most readers will relate.
- Capitalize on your knowledge. Music, monsters or medical terms. Refer to your area of expertise and it will resonate with authority.
- Start with a quotation. Find an expert and hang the piece you’re writing on that hook. Or, begin with humor to grab attention.
- Get personal. Just don’t make it personal. Relate an experience, yours or someone else’s, to make a point.
- Let the quirky fact see the light of day. Then segue into the subject at hand.
And, if you’re still having trouble? Well, it happens. Throw up your hands, leave your desk and indulge in a mental massage. Or, take a break to stretch and then go read another writer’s blog. Inspiration is almost guaranteed!
Adrienne C knows that her mind, like her desk, is cluttered. But, rather than spending time and energy fighting it, she has simply come to accept it as her normal. She also takes her own advice about reading other writers’ blogs: Fellow Texan Reavis Wortham is a current favorite, as is Maria Shriver.