About Writing

I’m not qualified to hand out tips on writing but I will offer these two which I think are helpful.

Read other people’s writing – especially the established pros, the masters of the game. Learn from them.

Read your own writing – I found this hard to do at first but not to do so is conceited, delusional and very often can lead to embarrassment. Pick up on spelling errors, typos, grammatical howlers, overlong sentences, tautology, leaden prose, shoddiness, irrelevancies, etc.

The Block and Prompts

Writer’s Block hits us all at one point. I have an opinion, which may be wrong, that the block has little to do with having nothing to write about, rather a momentary crisis of self-confidence. Finding nothing to write about in the age of communication seems a tad ridiculous. We are continuously bombarded with stuff to react to in a writerly manner: the news, magazine articles, social media, the telly, conversations overheard, other blogs. A writer must write so write your way out of the slump; just anything, however daft, good writing will make the daftest thing seem interesting; it’ll be better than not writing. For a writer, not writing anything at all is like non-existence.

If all else fails, there are writing prompts. Here is a list of blogging prompts which I know of and I’ll add to whenever I find others.

Flash Fiction

I’m guessing there are a majority of bloggers, like me, who haven’t set out to write fiction. One day, I tried it on a whim and found it fun to do. Now it’s a significant part of my blogging enjoyment, with or without a prompt. I find it loosens me up and helps me find that often elusive “voice”, and keep it. Also, more so than my non-fictional efforts, fiction writing allows wider experimentation – I can literally write how I like without worrying about its effect on the more serious posts. Here are some Flash Fiction prompt sites I’ve participated in,

Carrot Ranch Literary Community
Flash fiction prompt, submit a piece in 99 words, no more, no less. Challenging but not impossible; hone your editing skills in the process.

Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner
Flash fiction prompt, write a piece not more than 200 words inspired by the published image.

Time To Write
Rachel Poli’s various fiction prompts: photos, first sentence starters, random words.

Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie
Yves aka mindlovemisery provides many daily writing prompts in different guises from Wordles to Collage and Photo prompts to Haiku.

Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers
Priceless Joy provides a photo prompt challenge every Monday. 125 – 175 words limit.

Sources for Ideas

If the social rigmarole and etiquette of prompt sites is not for you, there are a few good places I’ve found which may provide material to inspire a post,

BBC Ideas
A sideline from the great Beeb presents short videos, around 5 minutes a piece, on a range of ideas and thinking. Think TEDtalks, only more concentrated and less time wasted.

Brain Pickings
Maria Popova’s independent, ad-free site provides weekly food for thought with a Sunday newsletter. All sorts of subjects are covered with an intellectual and philosophical bent.

The Book of Life
These are the essays and articles associated with The School of Life, conceived by Alain de Botton. It’s a kind of guide for betterment in all aspects of life, or at least a better understanding of how things are, using philosophy as its tool box. These pieces can inspire personal thoughts on everyday issues.

Not a source but a feed, though it can be personalised to suit your interests from a decent range of topics. Can be delivered in a Sunday Edition newsletter. (I use the app with this one and don’t know how it would come over on a standard browser.)

Quirky, Strange & Charming

Other writers and bloggers can set me off on a thought kindling a post. It’s a random process really, I can’t say who or when someone will set me off. There are a few places I’ve found over the years which are a kind of curation of the more unusual or oddly idiosyncratic.

The Man Who Fell Asleep
This one I discovered long ago, it probably predates anything I did myself on the web. Scroll down the page and see the thumbnail matrix. I had one of these on an old blog of mine but I’m not saying which came first. Each thumb takes you somewhere. Try it.

What can I say about Ubuweb? A strange museum of obscure cultural clips? An archive of the unusual? Maybe, as they themselves say, the Robin Hood of Avant-garde. You tell me. Worth a dip though.

Anvari: Ccollections
This is a recent discovery for me. I’ve chosen the link to take us to the collection page, a list of links which may humour or inspire.