Thursday, October 19, 2017

31 Fun Field Trips for Writers

By Edie Melson @EdieMelson
Fall is my favorite time of the year. I could happily spend from September through November outside hiking, exploring, and road-tripping. 

In honor of my own personal wanderlust, today I’m sharing my list of places to explore.
These are things that you can do by yourself, or get together with another friend to try out. Most would even work as a group activity for a writers group. The key here is to get out and stretch your legs and your creative muscles.


Fun Field Trips for Writers
  • 1. Visit your local history museum. Every county and most towns have them. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll find.
  • 2. Take a quick trip to a local landmark. Chances are there are some that you’ve never visited, no matter how long you’ve lived where you are now.
  • 3. Go to your local farmer’s market. Not only will you pick up some wonderful—local—edibles, you’ll be inspired by those attending and those displaying their wares.
  • 4. Try a different cuisine. Pick one you haven’t had before, if possible. Research it before you go and you’ll know what to order.
Take a quick walking tour. This was taken in
downtown Greenville, SC.
  • 5. Take a walking tour. Greenville, SC is the large town nearby and there are all kinds of self-guided walking tours we can take.
  • 6. Spend a few hours geocaching. Here’s a great article on Geocaching 101, if you’re not familiar with this hobby.
  • 7. Do a search for hidden menus at Starbucks, then try something new. There are all kinds of cool drinks you can order, if you just know how. For example, did you know there’s a concoction that’s reputed to resemble Butterbeer from the Harry Potter universe?
  • 8. Take a trip on a local river or lake. Go kayaking, canoeing, or even paddle boarding.
  • 9. Get together a group and go on a bookstore crawl. The point is to visit all the bookstores in a geographic area. It’s even more fun if you post pics to social media and see how many books you can find from authors you know and love.
  • 10. Plan an old-fashioned murder mystery evening. You can find suggestions online or you can buy a box that has everything need.
Go leaf-peeping.
  • 11. Go leaf-peeping. Fall is definitely upon us and that means the trees are turning in most areas of the country. Take a drive and be inspired by God’s creativity!
  • 12. Visit a local art gallery. Yes, I’m a writer. But I’ve found that seeing how others express their creativity inspires me.
  • 13. Get tickets to a play at your local community theater or even a school production. You'll be inspired by the actors, the costumes, the story, and the overall atmosphere.
  • 14. Go old school and show some community spirit by watching a local football game. Yes, high school was tough in some ways. But most of us remember fall football. It might have been as a cheerleader, a member of the marching band (me), or just a fan. This is a great way to reconnect with your roots.
  • 15. Take a cooking class. Again, it’s the creative aspect that drives this suggestion. But you also might find a new hobby you can share with your spouse.
  • 16. Spend the afternoon people watching at the local mall. Take a pen and paper and write down snippets of conversations. If you write fiction, you may find a place to use it in your WIP. If you write nonfiction, the things you overhear may give you article/book ideas.
  • 17. Visit a corn maze or a haunted house. Personally, I’m not a fan of haunted houses, but a lot of my friends are. A corn maze is much more my speed.
  • 18. Offer to read at your local retirement center/nursing home. It doesn’t have to be your book that you’re reading.
  • 19. Visit your local zoo.
  • 20. Take another author’s book to your local bookstore and recommend it to the manager/workers. It feels good to do something nice for someone else, and it helps the management find books they might have missed. 
Visit some nearby historical landmarks.
  • 21. Visit some nearby historical landmarks. Greenville is rife with old textile mills, bridges and general historic sites. I love crawling around old foundations and taking picture of the stonework and gears that are always left behind.
  • 22. Memorize a poem. Go to your local library or book store and find a book of poetry. It can be something funny, or touching, or anything in between. But the process will stimulate your mind and stretch your mental muscles.
  • 23. Explore a local festival. This time of year you’ll find everything from state fairs to barbeque cook-offs to pop up arts and crafts shows.
  • 24. Take a bicycle ride. If you don’t own a bike, rent one. Chances are there’s someplace nearby where you can ride.
  • 25. Listen to some live music. It might be an evening at the symphony, or a free band that plays in a park downtown.
  • 26. Stroll through a local flee market or antique mall
  • 27. Go on a hike. Find a local park and take a walk.
  • 28. Take a class. Look for something non-writing related. 
  • 29. Spend an afternoon coloring. Find a book or download a free page from the Internet, pull out your colored pencils and pretend you’re a kid. It’s not a hobby for everyone—which could be said about a lot of these suggestions, but I’ve found if I mention coloring it’s polarizing. People either love it or hate it. I’m one of those who’ve discovered it doesn’t relax me. But if it does help you unwind, go for it. If you haven’t tried it, it’s past time to give this new fad a try.
  • 30. Shop for a new pen and stationary. Go to a place where you can try out different types of pens and find one you really like.
  • 31. Take only a pen and notebook and find a park. Spend an hour or two writing longhand. Describe your setting, do free-writing, or brainstorm your next project.
Truthfully, this list could go on and on. But I’ll stop talking now and let you have a chance to share your best ideas.
Don’t forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,
Edie

Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains ChristianWriters Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts. Com, Social Media Director for SouthernWriters Magazine and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. Don't miss her new book from Worthy Inspired, WHILE MY SOLDIER SERVES.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Tips to Refresh Your Creative Spirit When the Well Runs Dry

by Edie Melson 
@EdieMelson

We all have times when life spirals out of control. Maybe it’s too many writing deadlines, a family crisis or holiday madness. Whatever it is, it can drain us dry. I’ve learned that these dry times come when I don’t the luxury of taking a couple of weeks of to rest and recover. I’ve had to figure out how to keep going and recover while I'm doing it.

Here’s what I do to feed my creative spirit.
First, I do a little inventory and look at what’s on my schedule. I take a look at what I have to do no matter what, and at the things I just feel like I should do. There’s a difference, trust me. Now’s the time to let go of everything that isn’t absolutely necessary.
Then I acknowledge that I’m dealing with mental fatigue. My mind is like a muscle that’s been overworked. It needs time to recuperate. To give it the time it needs, I watch the clock while I’m working and taking frequent breaks during the day. I’ll use those breaks to wander around the yard with my camera, take lunch with a friend, or just sit and enjoy a TV show.
Next I take a look at my disrupted routine. Many of you know I keep a pretty regular schedule. I have to, I’m too easily distracted as it is. A schedule helps me focus and stay productive. But when life spirals out of control, my schedule can degenerate into doing nothing more than sitting in front of the computer for twelve to fourteen hours a day, seven days a week. No one can sustain that kind of workload for any length of time.
When that happens, I become very rigid with my schedule (including the break times). This helps me stay on track, even as I give myself time to recuperate. My writing time is be shorter and my breaks a little longer.
The fourth thing I address is the need to feed my creative spirit. I must rekindle that creativity that’s burned so low in my soul.
  • I spend more time reading—for pleasure. I may try a new author, or revisit an old favorite. I go where my whims lead me. NOTHING from my to-do reading list allowed!
  • I do some things that spark my creativity, like jewelry making or knitting. Something fun, but not something I do for money. Just opportunities that encourage my imagination to soar.
  • I go to the movies. This gives me the opportunity to immerse myself in worlds that other creative geniuses have imagined and most important, much-needed time with my husband and with friends.
  • Finally, I find a time for a short vacation. It may only be a one-day trip into the mountains or a local park, but my husband and I need the unplugged time with just each other as our focus. 

Now I’d love to hear from you. How do you refill and refresh your creative spirit? Share your suggestions in the comments section so we can all learn from each other.

Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains ChristianWriters Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts. Com, Social Media Director for SouthernWriters Magazine and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. Don't miss her new book from Worthy Inspired, WHILE MY SOLDIER SERVES.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Step Out of Your Writing Comfort Zone

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson



Add life to your writing
by stepping out of your comfort zone!
As a whole, writers consistently struggle with self-confidence. Part of that comes, I believe, from working alone. Another contributing issue is the fact that writing is creating. We bring something tangible out of nothing and it carries our creative DNA. Both of these factors make it hard for us to have accurate perspective, so we err on the side of negativity. We tend to think less of our writing—and our abilities—than we ought. 

Hand in hand with this comes our unwillingness to leave our comfort zones. We’ve each built a safe place, populated it with safe people, and do only safe things there. But as comfortable as we are, this gated community can prove to be  stifling to our creativity.
We’ve got to find ways to break free from comfortable and embrace the new and terrifying.
Why & How to Step Out of Our Writing Comfort Zone
1. Trying new things—hard things—will stretch us and grow us as writers. Even if we choose not to continue with what we’ve tried, that experience will add to our abilities.
2. Leaving our comfort zone gives us a new perspective. When we only view something—writing—from one vantage point, we deny ourselves. For example, writing fiction, after years of writing nonfiction, can add depth and life to both endeavors.
3. We need to change locals to meet new people. Maybe you only write at home, or have a single critique partner. Move location, write in a coffee shop or library. Exchange your writing with someone new to get a different type of input.
4. Write in a different genre. If you write fiction, try your hand at article writing. If you write articles, give poetry a whirl. Wherever you are, try something different.
5. Visit a new group or conference. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut and only attend the same group or go to the same conference every year. Instead, be brave. Strike out on your own and visit a new group.
6. Enter a contest or sign up for a critique. It’s important to keep our writing fresh and current. Competing and asking for feedback is a perfect way to do that.
7. Try a writing prompt. There are a lot of books out there with writing prompts, but you can also just to an internet search. Set a timer and let creativity take over.
8. Take part in a write-off. This is a timed writing event. You can challenge another writer, or meet together as a group. The goal is to see who can write the most words in a set time-frame. Pushing yourself with a word-count goal will help turn off your internal editor. It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it the fact that you tried that brings the benefit.
9. Ditch the computer and write long-hand. I know, we’re in the twenty-first century, but there’s something ultimately creative by touching pen to paper. You might be surprised how enjoyable it is sometimes. And if you’re one of those who does write everything long-hand, you should give computer technology a try. Not because either is better, but because different leads to discovery.
These are my suggestions. Now it’s your turn to add to the list. What have you done to break out of the writing comfort zone? How has it worked?
Don’t forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,
Edie

Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains ChristianWriters Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts. Com, Social Media Director for SouthernWriters Magazine and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. Don't miss her new book from Worthy Inspired, WHILE MY SOLDIER SERVES.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Loose Your Words & Let God's Creativity Reign

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson 


In the beginning God created… Genesis 1:1

My mother is an artist, and I’ve always admired the sure confidence she exudes as she applies color to her creations. The finished pieces don't come together because of the tools she uses or the circumstances surrounding the process. They are created by the vision she holds so firmly in her mind. 

In her mind’s eye, the picture is already finished before she even begins. But to me, watching the process, it so often looks more like chaos than art.


In our own lives, God is the artist. And even if what is happening right now looks like chaos, we can be certain that He has the end result clearly in mind. The colors He uses to paint our lives may not be the blues and greens an artist uses. Instead, the colors He uses are experiences, emotions, and people. They infuse our lives with a vibrancy that makes our lives so vivid.
And He's imparted that creativity to us. Never underestimate the power of words to illustrate the world around us. 

God is the Master Artist, wielding His soft brush with masterful strokes, allowing just enough shadow and darkness to bring out the brilliance of the light. From up close, the colors may look muddy and the shapes indistinct, but viewed from a distance, each life is a masterpiece. As writers, we are also part of God's palette and His plan. We use black and white to illustrate the brilliant colors of life. 

Never underestimate your part in the process. God has invited us to join Him. So loose your words and let God's creativity reign as He uses your pen to illustrate His creation.


Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains ChristianWriters Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts. Com, Social Media Director for SouthernWriters Magazine and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. Don't miss her new book from Worthy Inspired, WHILE MY SOLDIER SERVES.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Writing Productivity—Don't Be Your Own Worst Enemy


By Edie Melson 
@EdieMelson

There are a lot of tasks we must master as we make writing a priority. But with these additional tasks, our productivity may drop. 

Learning how to juggle this multi-tasking is part of becoming a professional writer. 

12 Productivity Mistakes to Avoid
1. Multi-tasking. This one is a biggie. Yes, we have a lot of things we must do from, writing, to editing, to marketing. But it’s not an efficient use of our time if we try to do everything all at once.

2. Unlimited web-browsing. We definitely need to build an online platform, but spending hours surfing the web isn’t the way to do it.

3. Working without a schedule. The way to get all the various tasks done that need to be done is by scheduling our time. Find the most creative time and guard it for your writing first. Then work around that time for the other tasks you have to do.

4. Avoiding the hard stuff. It’s only human nature to want to do the easy things first. But that’s not always the most efficient use of our time. Come up with a schedule, then do the tasks that are scheduled, whether they’re hard or easy.

5. Talking instead of working. Writers are like anyone else, we’re passionate about our craft. But we need to make sure we’re spending time practicing our craft, not just talking about it.

6. Not networking. We shouldn't spend all our time talking about writing, but that doesn't mean we should isolate ourselves. Others can give us much needed perspective and insight into things we're struggling with. 

7. Using cheating as a reward. It’s great to build in rewards, but make sure the rewards aren’t sabotaging your progress. For example, if I’m on a diet and I lose five pounds, I don’t want to reward myself with a calorie-laden meal. With writing, if I make my word count goal, I want to build on it, not take the rest of the week off.

8. Thinking only about the big dream. Sure we all want to write a blockbuster. But that isn’t my only goal. I have lots of goals that will lead up to that one. Don’t be a big-picture writer and lose out on the chance to fulfill your dream.

9. Over planning. Yes, we need to make plans, and follow a schedule. But if we’re so concerned with the process of planning, we’re wasting valuable time. Write down your goals, come up with a schedule and then GET TO WORK.

10. Not learning. With writers, like most creative endeavors talent is a good start. BUT diligence trumps talent every single time. Doing the hard work to learn all that’s involved with becoming a professional writer will get you much farther than even a huge amount of talent.

11. Working without a goal. When I sit down to write, I've learned to have a goal. Sometimes it's a word count. Other times its to write a certain number of blog posts. Without a goal, I tend to wander. With a goal, I stay focused and make progress. 

12. Comparing ourselves to others. This is a biggie. Each of us will follow a slightly different path on this writing journey. None is better or worse than another. Be the best you can be—right now—and don't look to others to judge your progress.

This are the hindrances I’ve found to writing productivity, I’d love to know what you’d add to the list.

Don’t forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,
Edie
Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains ChristianWriters Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts. Com, Social Media Director for SouthernWriters Magazine and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. Don't miss her new book from Worthy Inspired, WHILE MY SOLDIER SERVES.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Ordering Your Days on a Weekly Basis

I've received a lot of questions since I posted my personal writing schedule. Most dealt with the idea that many of you are not writing full time, yet you still need help ordering your day.

It doesn't matter whether you write as a calling, a hobby or a business. We all perform better when we have expectations and a way to judge results. For those of you just starting out, here are some suggestions.
  1. Set small, measurable goals
  2. Under estimate the time you'll be able to put in
  3. Adjust your goal setting to a weekly mode, rather than daily
Weekly Word Count Goal
One of the things I've found most helpful when setting word count goals is to set my goal for the week rather than the day. I still have two teenagers in and out of the house so sometimes life interrupts life. To combat this, I set a weekly wordcount goal for my fiction endeavors. Then, I break it down into daily totals. If I miss a day's goal, I can make it up later in the week and I don't wind up feeling like I've failed.

Weekly Project Goal
You may normally work on smaller projects, like articles or devotions. If that's the case, try to set a goal of one devotion or article a week.

Revolving Weekly Goal
You might want to try something I call a revolving weekly goal. This is where you have a different goal every week for 3 weeks and then it starts over. The first week you might complete a small project. The next week, you look for markets where you can sell it. The third week you might spend learning about the craft of writing. Then you begin the cycle again.

Whatever method works for you is the BEST method.

Just remember, that no matter how early or how far along you are on your writing journey we all need to spend time studying the craft of writing. That can be done through reading books, attending a seminar or conference, or reading blogs and websites.

All of these are necessary for us as writers to improve our craft.

So what have you found works best for you? Share your insights with the rest of us - please!

Don't forget to join the conversation,
Blessings,
Edie

Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains ChristianWriters Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts. Com, Social Media Director for SouthernWriters Magazine and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. Don't miss her new book from Worthy Inspired, WHILE MY SOLDIER SERVES.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

An Organized Schedule Leads to Success

As many of you know, I had a really productive year in 2010 and a lot of you have asked how I accomplished it all. I did it because I was willing to follow a schedule - it was my way of eating an elephant one bite at a time. I learned how to break large tasks into smaller ones. here are some of my suggestions.

It doesn't matter whether you write as a calling, a hobby or a business. We all perform better when we have expectations and a way to judge results. For those of you just starting out, here are some suggestions.
  1. Set small, measurable goals
  2. Under estimate the time you'll be able to put in
  3. Adjust your goal setting to a weekly mode, rather than daily
Weekly Word Count Goal
One of the things I've found most helpful when setting word count goals is to set my goal for the week rather than the day. I still have two teenagers in and out of the house so sometimes life interrupts life. To combat this, I set a weekly wordcount goal for my fiction endeavors. Then, I break it down into daily totals. If I miss a day's goal, I can make it up later in the week and I don't wind up feeling like I've failed.

Weekly Project Goal
You may normally work on smaller projects, like articles or devotions. If that's the case, try to set a goal of one devotion or article a week.

Revolving Weekly Goal
You might want to try something I call a revolving weekly goal. This is where you have a different goal every week for 3 weeks and then it starts over. The first week you might complete a small project. The next week, you look for markets where you can sell it. The third week you might spend learning about the craft of writing. Then you begin the cycle again.

Whatever method works for you is the BEST method.

Just remember, that no matter how early or how far along you are on your writing journey we all need to spend time studying the craft of writing. That can be done through reading books, attending a seminar or conference, or reading blogs and websites.

All of these are necessary for us as writers to improve our craft.

So what have you found works best for you? Share your insights with the rest of us - please!

Don't forget to join the conversation,
Blessings,
Edie

Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains ChristianWriters Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts. Com, Social Media Director for SouthernWriters Magazine and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. Don't miss her new book from Worthy Inspired, WHILE MY SOLDIER SERVES.