Wednesday, October 26, 2011
There are numerous theories on how to prime the mind so that it is ready to write creatively, and many of them are very effective.
The first of these might seem counterintuitive, but it is effective for many people: do anything but write. Writing is not just about putting words on a page, or crafting a story, it is also about inspiration, and inspiration can come from anywhere. You can be inspired, or gain a new insight, by standing next to a woman in grocery store and watching as she touches every lemon in the bin before she finds the right one. You can find inspiration by simply sitting and watching how your cat observes the world around him. You can find inspiration by walking in the woods.
For those times when you want or need to be sitting in front of the page, there are other creative writing prompts. One is to take a very familiar story, say, the Red Riding-Hood story, and playing with it in a new way.
Another of the many creative writing prompts you can consider is to think about a famous person, a politician for example, and writing a brief story about how he behaves when stuck in an airport, away from his staff and family, during a snow storm without a cell phone.
The emphasis with any exercise that aims to get your mind working creatively is simply to get your mind working, thinking, searching for connections, insights, ironies and the other things that surround us in everyday life and serve as the basis of metaphor and storytelling in our writing.
There are not really any ‘wrong’ ways to go about gaining access to the creative corners of your mind, but there are some ways of thinking about that process that are not always helpful. The mind does not typically work like a machine; meaning it does not always behave in a predictable and compliant fashion. But then, unpredictability is at the core of creativity.
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Sunday, October 9, 2011
Like it or not, we care about what others think about us. And we care about their opinions on other things as well, including the books they read. As someone who is looking to get your work published, it is often very helpful to obtain the endorsements of others. Endorsements have long been a staple of book promotion in the publishing industry.
When getting testimonials for your book, think about the most high profile names you can get who have some relation to the book you have written. For example, former President George W. Bush is pretty high profile, but he’s probably not considered much of an authority on macramé, and if your book is about macramé, his endorsement, while interesting, will not carry as much weight as you might like.
The interesting irony is people are often more willing to help out in this way than you might think. It is worth it to take the time to try. If you have written a novel, make a list of authors who have won major literary awards and write them and ask them to read and comment on your book. You might be surprised. If you have written a non-fiction book, make a list of authors who have been successful in a non-competitive yet related field and do the same.
Once you have some people lined up to read and comment on the book, offer to craft a comment for their approval. While you might be concerned this offer would be misconstrued as attempt to shape their comment, most people will appreciate the effort to save them time. Just make sure you are explicit you understand they are free to say whatever they want about the book.
Also, make sure they are clear you will use their comments in the promotion of your book. Generally, this is understood, but it pays to cover the bases just in case.
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