Ansley Asher

writing thoughts

Archive for ideas

Inspiration Closer Than You Think

While browsing, I saw a link to something called “Leonard’s Everyday Inspirations” on I don’t know if the title means that the inspirations come daily or if that means they’re common place. But in the video I saw, NBC News Correspondent Mike Leonard shares his tips for sniffing out great news stories by using the Yellow Pages. He talks about siren factories, dirt, and why planes aren’t painted blue–but mostly about how inspirational the phone book is.

At first I thought it was crazy. But the video really convinced me. I’d heard of people using the phone book as a source of character (or even pen) names, but not the yellow pages for topics. Maybe it will work for you!


Pruning the Vine of Creativity

Copyblogger is often extremely focused on, well, producing copy for blogs–no surprise there. But that means the advice they give isn’t easily applicable to fiction. Guest poster James Chartrand, however, polished up a little tool that has been in my own creativity toolbox for some time: Limiting yourself–your time, your ideas, your goals–to be more creative.

Perhaps creating a deadline (and sticking to it!) is what you need to give yourself a creative push. Or perhaps that blank page is giving you the illusion that the sky is the limit, and that’s intimidating. I’ll tell you that there is almost no way that you could write about absolutely anything at all. You will write about:

  • something that interests you... A pet. A person. Someone you wish you knew. Someone you wish you were.
  • in a place or setting that interests you… You’re not going to write 100,000 words about someplace you care nothing about. Unless you’re getting paid millions of dollars, I wager.
  • in a genre that interests you… You already know if you’re writing about John’s pet bunny or a serial killer. You already know you want to write middle grade or crime fiction. So you’re limited in that.
  • in a voice that interests you. How do you want to tell this story? Much will be determined by who is telling the story and why.

By realizing the limits that are already set, the story becomes the focus, and it’s easier to write. Now you can see the creativity lies in what your character says, why she says it, what she does, etc. within the constraints that make sense for the story you are trying to tell.

Of course you can throw all this out the window. Writing is an art, after all. But if you set some limits for yourself, the story just might come a little easier.

Happy writing!

What I Learned from Walt Disney’s Wienie

I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but I might have to explain myself if this link:Hear 2.0: “It doesnt have a Wienie” ever goes bad! For a hint, it goes hand-in-hand with the World of Warcraft mantra of “concentrated coolness”–the importance of making a few things really awesome instead of spreading yourself thin.

Who knows? You might learn something from Walt Disney’s wienie, too!

Being Prolific for Life

Zen Habits has a potentially life-changing post made by guest blogger Clay Collins from The Growing Life called Living the Prolific Life: A How-to Guide. Being productive is a worthy goal: The more productive you are, the more opportunities you have to be successful. Check out his advice!

Creativity – Write Those Bad Ideas Down

Are you only coming up with bad ideas?

That’s okay–write them down. Getting those bad ideas out of your head and recorded on paper will leave you free to rework them, or to come up with fresh new ideas. Forcing yourself to hold an idea in the back of your mind can restrict your ability to think of new, random ideas which might work better for you. You’ll also have those bad ideas for reference–and they might look better on paper, too.

One Good Question

Browsing around the internet yesterday I came across this: Candy Chang – Public Art – Sidewalk Psychiatry

“A routine trip can prompt reflections on everything from future goals to last night’s dinner conversation. As people sacrifice personal time for hectic schedules, these casual occasions for reflection become all the more important.”

The little messages encourage introspection, hopefully coming at an appropriate time for the passers-by (or maybe inappropriate, if you’re looking for humor). Are you asking yourself the right questions about your story, plot, and characters? Are you dancing around the things you really want to ask?

One good question–the right question–can inspire tired work, or shed light on something about your characters or plot that wasn’t clear to you before. If what you want to ask yourself or your characters is eluding you, try to think about and write down questions as if you were making notes about someone else’s work. Then give them to yourself, and pretend someone else gave you that note.

What You Say Reflects Who You Are

Oh, Onion writers, you are so full of funny!

Dear reader, enjoy these two old, uh, “news” stories first:

It’s Not Nice To Be Smarter Than Other People

Nation Afraid To Admit 9-Year-Old Disabled Poet Really Bad

Do you change what you say to others because of:

  • fear?
  • anger?
  • peer pressure?
  • pressure from your boss?
  • their inability to understand?
  • the fact that you want to play a joke on them?
  • the fact that you believe the rumors about them?
  • the fact that they helped you once?
  • your best friend’s opinion of them?
  • desire for friendship?
  • desire for love?

Do your characters? Shouldn’t they?