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Tools For Writing Success

Write with lots of tools around you - dictionary, thesaurus, phrasebooks, inspirational quotes etc. I have a huge library of them, and I use online sources too (Brainyquotes is really good, as are Goodreads and Englishtrackers).

I'll also dip into poetry books and sometimes encounter a phrase or two that triggers writing.

One perfect example of this for me was a line from Robert Barret's poem 'Swinburne':

Who else dared keep a garden where, in moral

And misty England, passion flowers might bloom?

The poppy and the lotus and the laurel

Enlace to make your tomb.

The above drove my writing in a direction I hadn't expected. It led to my story, 'Tree Lined Road' about the joys of nature, art and solitude.

Sometimes just selecting a quote at random can be enough to give you a start with what you’re doing. And it doesn’t need to be from a book of quotes. For example, the last quote-inspired pieces of writing I did, was focused around a quote from one of Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes cartoons:

“I’m telling you, my personal gravity reversed its polarity. I fall up now!”

And, another from Elizabeth Gilbert’s ‘Eat Pray Love’:

“I have a tendency not only to see the best in everyone, but to assume that everyone is emotionally capable of reaching his highest potential”.

The first quote enabled me to start an as-yet-unfinished nonsense poem about what would happen if down was up and in was out. The second has been the starter for an un-love story. Again, as yet unfinished.

I will also look online for, say quotes about art or jam or PMT, and use them to embellish or inspire.

Most word processing software has its own inbuilt dictionary and thesaurus, so use the former to find new words and spellings, the latter for synonyms and antonyms etc. But there are other tools too. Fact checkers, formatting tools, style checkers, books of inspiration etc.

There are also things you can do to get inspired. It is something we used to do in one of my writing groups. We’d assign each other a number of random words and would have to incorporate them all into their next piece of writing. That’s where an actual paper dictionary is brilliant. Just open it up at random pages and select up to ten random words. You can end up with some very interesting and (again) random pieces of writing. There’s a link to a couple of my reading videos here:

I wonder if a casual reader or listener could work out which words were assigned as the task?

You can find these two stories, and far more in my book, ‘Feet On The Table’ on Amazon. It is absolutely enormous and crammed with short stories.


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