Friday, February 22, 2013

So Good to Hear Your Voice

If you've been around the writer’s block a few times, you may have heard the term “voice” bantered about.

Voice is that certain something that makes your writing unique –

The way you say what you've got to say… because, my friend, nobody else is going to say it quite that way.

As an illustration (pun thoroughly intended), think of 10 folks in an art class gathered around a still life. Obviously, no two artists in the room will draw that hodgepodge of pine cones, French horns, and lobsters in exactly the same way.

The same goes for a scene, ten writers, and the alphabet.

I've been to my share of writers' conferences and every editor and agent says the exact same thing (in his or her own “voice” of course)…

“I am looking for a fresh voice.”

Well, the best way to find your voice is to write… A LOT.

But here’s something else to try if you'd like to explore the power of voice – give a good listen to a couple of audiobooks. There is something about actually hearing voice that helps you really grasp what it means.

Presently, I am enjoying A Year in the World by Frances Mayes.  And that is just how she would say it, too – “presently” with a lovely southern lilt.

Another favorite of mine is All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot. Nothing says “hello” like his opener – a bloody bovine breech delivery.

Do you have a favorite audiobook? If so, please share…

I’m always looking for a fresh voice.

PROMPT: Download an audiobook or grab a Playaway from your local library and give this a whirl. Then explore your voice by rewriting one of the scenes in a way that expresses your freshness.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Mike Advice

No, not this kind of Mike

This week I ran across some great writing tips from Michael Morpurgo.

In case you don’t know Mike, he’s the guy who wrote the awesomely epic War Horse.

He’s also written about 120 other books and was the UK’s third Children’s Laureate.

Yeah, a real slacker.

Anyway, Mike says that in order to be a good writer, you should first live an interesting life.

So be sure to do something wild with your time on the planet –

Raise kids, wolverines, or water buffalo (they’re all the same, trust me) and you’ll have this covered.

Mr. M. also says that you should write just a little bit every single day. 

If you follow The Mind’s Elbow plan, then you've got that one covered, too.

And finally, he advises not to worry about writing for a market or that great big audience of them

Instead, write the way you’d tell it to one person, and one person only…

your very best friend.

I like that, don’t you?

PROMPT: What do you want to tell your best friend today? And don’t forget to mention those awesome plans for water buffalo.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Happy Anniversary!

The Mind’s Elbow celebrates one year of creative jump-starts today!


And that sounds like a great reason to take the day off.

Then again…

PROMPT: If you played hooky today, what would you do? Write a screenplay about it a la Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (the top grossing film of 1986). 

You know, rumor has it that Matthew Broderick will reprise his role in some kind of sequel… but it’s looking more and more like “skipping knitting class at the nursing home” with each passing day.

Hmmm… now there’s a story!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Who Knew?

Alien invasion, nuclear war, technology takeover, viral pandemic, super volcano, solar storm… the list goes on and on.

But it turns out that every single apocalyptic theorist has been wrong.

The biggest threat to life as we know it has already made its move at the Denver International Airport. It’s been all over the news, in case you've been, like, living under a rock.

Yes, I am talking about a wily band of rogue rabbits who have been taking out the ignition cable of every car in long-term parking.

I hear they’re gunning for the planetary power grid next.

Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

PROMPT: Who could have guessed that the "end times" instigator would be so dang cute? Do away with those same old same old stories and write an apocalyptic scenario that NOBODY would expect.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Happy Presidents’ Day!

What originally began as a celebration of George Washington’s birthday has now morphed into a party for all the guys who have held the highest office in the land.

But before you run out and get a great deal on bed linen, let’s take some time out to honor a president who would definitely be part of the Mind’s Elbow tribe…

That is, if he were actually around breathing oxygen today.

Yes, I am talking about Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Ike took up painting in his 50’s after being inspired by the artistic dabblings of Winston Churchill.

In fact, he wrote to Churchill in 1950 stating –

 “I have a lot of fun since I took it up, in my somewhat miserable way, your hobby of painting. I have had no instruction, have no talent, and certainly no justification for covering nice, white canvas with the kind of daubs that seem constantly to spring from my brushes. Nevertheless, I like it tremendously, and in fact, have produced two or three things that I like enough to keep.”

Well, there you go.

Take it from Ike –

Create just for the joy of it, worry not about the outcome.

Heck, you might even produce a keeper or two.

By the way, he once confided to a reporter that he had more time to paint when he was president than he did as a private citizen because his day was better organized.

Okay, we can go two ways with that info –

Either getting organized means having more time for creative endeavors, or…

that whole “U.S. President” gig is basically a cakewalk.

By the way, Ike’s favorite painting spot?

A magical Harry Potterish place, in fact –

The cupboard under the White House stairs.

PROMPT: It’s a great day to be like Ike. Find an enchanting location to dabble in your art of choice. Or start planning your campaign for the nation’s top spot – that way you’ll have much more time for creating in 2017.