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732 Posts tagged with the writing tag

How to Be Retweetable

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Oct 12, 2015

Before social media the goal of an author was to write something memorable. It's still the goal today, but there's the added goal of writing something retweetable. Twitter is a mecca of viral content just waiting to be shared via retweet over and over again. The trick is writing something in 140 characters that moves your followers and their followers to retweet your content.


Here are some good rules of thumb to craft retweetable content and build your brand across the Twitterverse.


  1. You don't really have 140 characters: If you're using up all the characters allotted in a tweet, you're not allowing for followers to add their own two cents. You'd be surprised how many want to add their points of view to a message. If you can come in at 70-100 characters, your message is all the more retweetable.

  2. Pick your spots: According to Track Maven, Tuesday and Wednesday are the days with the highest volume of tweets, but weekends are where the largest number of retweets occur. The point? Your followers will be more likely to see your tweets during the week, but on weekends there's a greater likelihood that a smaller number or your followers will retweet your content and share it outside of your network, exposing your brand to a larger number of people.

  3. #usehashtags: Hashtags do get you retweeted, and the more you use, the more likely it is you'll be retweeted. A lot of people limit them or avoid them altogether, but there are a number of studies that say three to five hashtags in a tweet increases your chances of being retweeted.

  4. Three words that will greatly increase your retweet volume: By simply putting, "Please Retweet Now" in your tweet, you will see a marked increase in the number of retweets you receive.


Of course, the best way to receive a lot of retweets is to take advantage of the social aspect of Twitter and engage with followers, so they are more likely to support your career as an author, and make sure it's a two-way street. Support their dreams, too.


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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Twitter: A Global Tool That's Great for Connecting with Your Local Media

Can Twitter Make You a Better Writer?

1,113 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, promotion, writing, twitter, retweet, retweetable

It's a question that doesn't produce a consensus. It's probably even foolish to explore, but that sort of thing has never stopped me before. Let's face it, what makes a book readable has a lot to do with individual tastes. There have been enormous bestsellers that I have found painfully unreadable, and there have been obscure titles that have gained no popular traction that I have devoured over and over again.


So, beyond personal proclivities, what makes a book readable? Yes, character development is a huge consideration. Story structure is pivotal. Setting matters a great deal. But they all pale in comparison to one often overlooked element to a book's readability factor: the writer's passion for the story. A reader can tell when a writer approaches a piece out of a sense of obligation instead of a sense of desire. It's obvious in the language used. There is a nuanced, invisible connectedness between author and story that etches itself into the pages (paper or electronic) when the writer approaches the story from a place of passion. Readers pick up on that. They gravitate toward it. They want to be a part of it.


Writing without passion is probably not something a lot of indie writers have to deal with. But if you sit down to write and the passion isn't there, walk away. Divert your attention toward something that brings you joy. Find a headspace that opens you up to feeling, a hunger to tell your story and get back at it. Write with passion.


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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When to Walk Away from a Story

Change it Up!

3,173 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: writing, draft, craft, book_writing, indie_authors, author_advice, story_writing, novel_writing

Have you ever finished a great book and thought to yourself, I would love to send a note to the author, only to find yourself at a loss for how to do so? In my opinion, by not including contact information at the end of their books, those authors are missing out on a wonderful opportunity to connect with their readers.


Here are some other things you can include in your books to connect with your readers:


1)   The first chapter of your next book:

Including the first chapter of another book, whether it's a sequel or an entirely different story, is a great way to both alert your readers to its existence and to encourage them to buy it right then and there. If you don't have another book ready, why not include a brief note about something you have planned or have already begun?


2)   A sense of your personality in the acknowledgements:

I'm always a little disappointed when the acknowledgments page of a book is nothing more than a list of names. In addition to thanking people in this section, you can share a little bit about yourself with your readers. It doesn't have to be anything overly personal, but there's no harm in offering your fans a glimpse of who you are, how hard you worked to write the book, and how much you appreciate anyone out there who is actually reading it.


3)   Your website and/or newsletter information:

I absolutely love receiving emails from fans, so I put my website ( and/or email address everywhere I can. On my website there's a "Contact" button that provides my email address ( I also have a "Sign up for Maria's newsletter!" button on every page of my site.


Granted, there are some authors out there who are so successful they don't need to interact with their readers to sell more books, but the rest of us should be doing everything we can to establish a connection with our fans. Word-of-mouth is the most powerful sales tool in the world, so anything you can to do to engage with your readers is well worth your time.


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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at


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Tips for Engaging Your Readers Online

Book Marketing Tip: Make It Easy for Your Fans to Help You

3,369 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, promotions

You aren't just an indie author. You are the head of a community. You have a responsibility to cultivate and grow your group. Here are five points to ponder as you examine your role as head of your online community.


  1. I get by with a little help from my friends: Your online community isn't a fan base. At least they shouldn't be treated like fans. They are your friends. They are supportive, responsive, and happy for you. You should treat them in kind.
  2. Community and culture: Every community on the planet has its own culture. Your online community of readers is no different. Since you are the founder and manager of your community, you have a sacred duty to identify that culture and develop parameters for engagement that won't diminish it. As an author, your culture is likely to be tied in large part to your preferred genre, but your sense of humor and personal belief system will also come into play.
  3. If you're not engaged, your community isn't engaged: If you let comments go without a response, you won't get many comments. People want to have a discussion. Give them what they want, and let them know they are being heard. Engage, engage, engage.
  4. Community outreach: Participate in other communities and allow other authors with their own communities to piggyback off your success. You need a community of readers, first and foremost. Those can be found by connecting with other authors. Remember, authors don't compete with other authors for readers. Readers devour books like potato chips. There are more than enough of both to go around.
  5. Manage squabbles: I have found that sometimes even the most innocent of comments can be misconstrued and escalated into hurt feelings. You have a responsibility that disagreements in your community are kept below fever pitch. Lively conversation and debate is not just okay, it can be a good thing, but watch closely so lines don't get crossed. When things get personal, draw the line and insert civility. Sometimes all it takes is a voice of reason to end a dispute.


Essentially, your goal is to grow your community to the point that it's so large it can't be handled by one person. That's when you'll have one of those problems that's nice to have.


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.





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Community Engagement Prompts

Selling Others Sells Yourself

2,617 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, selling, promotion, writing, community, online, social_media, outreach, marketing_strategy, author_advice

No matter who publishes your book, there's no guarantee that libraries will carry it. However, if you walk into your local library with a smile and a copy of your book and say, "Hi there! I wrote this book. Will you please carry it?" there's a good chance the answer will be "Sure." It can't hurt to ask, right? The worst the librarian can do is say no, and as I explained in a previous post, if you let a few NOs drag you down, you're not going to get very far in your book marketing efforts.


I live in New York, but I recently received an invitation to an event at the library in my hometown in California. And get this--it's a reception for local authors to meet local readers! How cool is that? For all I know, my novels have never even been checked out there, but their mere presence on the shelves resulted in an invitation. Maybe your local library is planning a similar event. You never know! Again, it can't hurt to ask. (And if your library isn't planning a similar event, why not suggest one?)


Another idea is to ask your friends or family members who live in different towns to walk into their local libraries and make a request for your book. If a card-carrying member of a library requests a specific book, the librarian will most likely order it. It's true! When I was writing my first novel, I remember telling my mom that if just one person I wasn't related to read it, I would be thrilled. I got confirmation that this had happened when my uncle, who lives in Indiana, requested that his local library carry the book. When he went back a few weeks later to check it out, someone had beat him to it! I have no idea who that first reader was, but I will never forget the wonderful moment when I found out he/she existed.


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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at


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Three Easy Marketing Ideas

Avoid this Marketing No-No

1,715 Views 16 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, libraries

Years ago I got into a discussion with some folks about what makes a young adult novel a young adult novel. It was sparked by a panel at a conference taking on the topic, and what I discovered is that there is no real consensus on the matter. Every element supposedly exclusive to young adult material was eventually discovered to exist in adult titles, and the reverse was true.


So given that there are no rules for young adult novels written in stone, let's examine three--let's call them observations--uncovered in that discussion. Invariably, there are exceptions to each item in the list to follow, but that's okay. This is just a jumping off point.


  1. Coming-of-age element: Young adult novels usually cover a rite of passage. That is to say the main character moves into a new stage of life that brings him/her closer to adulthood. We call these coming-of-age stories, and while the stage in question may be something as innocent as experiencing a first kiss, the obstacles overcome and the lessons learned on their way to that first kiss are the crux of the story.

  2. Hope: More so than in adult themed novels, hope seems to be an ever-present theme in most young adult novels. As bad as things get, even dystopian bad, the main character always finds a way to win. The message consistently seems to be to never give up. Victory is just a miracle away.

  3. Avoiding trends: When an adult writes a book for a young adult market, the temptation is to learn the slang of the day and try to speak their language, but the young adult novels that stand the test of time, by and large, don't jump on language trends. Doing so appears as if the author is trying too hard to relate to the readers, and it just doesn't work.


Those are the observations that came up in my discussion. What say you? What do you think is unique to a young adult novel or key to a young adult novel's long-term success?


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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What is a Young Adult Novel?

Claim Your Genre

1,107 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, young_adult

I love horror stories in every medium. My Saturday morning ritual while I'm vegging out, sipping on my life-giving coffee, is to watch a horror movie. It goes without saying that as a writer, Stephen King is one of my idols. He's the master of horror for a reason. Being scared is just fun. There's no other way to describe it. As a student of all things horror, here are the five things I've observed about a good horror story:


  1. Relatable protagonist: Horror stories work best when your central character is recognizable. He or she should face the same sort of everyday struggles and triumphs that the readers face. What the protagonist does for a living doesn't necessarily have to be a typical job, but the way he or she approaches that job should be the same way a majority of people approach a job. The readers should be able to see themselves in the protagonist.

  2. Clearly defined main conflict: You don't want your readers guessing what's so terrifying about your horror story. They should know why they're terrified. Keep your monster in the shadows if you wish, but make the consequences of coming face-to-face with your monster crystal clear.

  3. You can't have horror without suspense: While knowing the possible consequences of meeting your monster is important, the anticipation of doom might be more relevant to a horror story than the actual doom itself. Investigating those things that go bump in the night can offer more thrills than uncovering what those things truly are. Think about it, there is a certain amount of exhilaration in not knowing who or what the monster is. Keeping the who, what, why, and where a mystery for as long as you can is good edge-of-your-seat storytelling.

  4. Out of their element: Good protagonists have to be out of their league and overmatched in order to make the conclusion satisfying. Whatever the outcome of your horror story, the reader needs to feel that the central character worked to earn a victory. Without that struggle, there's no reason to root for him or her.

  5. The horror still exists: The best horror stories end with the reader thinking that the horror is still out there. The protagonist may have won the battle, but the war still wages on. You don't necessarily have to set up a sequel, but horror fans read horror novels because they like being scared. If you can find a way to scare them with your ending, you've written a horror masterpiece.


Are you a fan of horror? What are the elements of horror that draw you in and keep you entertained?


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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The Cost and Odds of Suspense

How to Be a Genre Bender

1,642 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: horror, writing, suspense, genre, writing_tips, writing_advice, author_advice, page_turner

I'm always looking for ideas for this blog (as well as a good book to read), so I spend a chunk of my day keeping tabs on the publishing industry. Often when I stumble across an article about a new author, especially a new indie author, I head to Amazon to check out the book and the author's page. Who knows? I may buy the book or even contact the author about a possible interview.


If I see grammatical errors in an author page, however, I quickly move on.


For example, I recently visited the Amazon page of an author whose bio included the following mistakes (specifics changed to protect the author's identity):


What she wrote: Lisa Sue is the Author of five mysteries.


What she should have written: Lisa Sue is the author of five mysteries.


What she wrote: Her favorite topic's are X, Y and Z.


What she should have written: Her favorite topics are X, Y and Z.


What she wrote: Lisa Sue is a woman that has always worked hard for what she wants.


What she should have written: Lisa Sue is a woman who has always worked hard for what she wants.


I've said it countless times in this blog, but you only have quick moment to grab a (potential) reader's attention. If the impression you give is that you don't understand the basic rules of grammar, the potential reader is probably not going to buy your book, no matter how good it is. Perhaps the above author was in a hurry when she wrote her bio and didn't notice the mistakes, but to an educated reader the errors are distracting and unprofessional.


Think of your author bio the way you would your book's cover. People shouldn't judge your book based on it, but many will.


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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at


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Common Mistakes a Professional Editor Sees

Grammar Tip: She vs. Her/He vs. Him

3,982 Views 24 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, writing, grammar, author_bio, grammatical_errors

It has occurred to me lately that building a brand is a lot like dating. When you are in the midst of a courtship, you put your best foot forward. You enhance your strengths, downplay your weaknesses, and you work at being engaging. You are constantly looking for ways to keep the conversation lively and maybe even enlightening. You want the person you're courting to find you interesting--so interesting that they keep agreeing to see you in order to engage in more lively and enlightening conversation.


So, in addition to being a writer, your job as an author is to be interesting. Frankly, that's bad news for me because I'm boring. Terribly so. Mind-numbingly so. I have a risk-averse personality that prevents me from attempting dangerous stunts or hobbies. I abhor the nightlife. I can't even stand large crowds. Red carpets, galas, grandiose events: I'm not a fan. So, what's an author like me to do to be interesting enough to be a brand?


Well, the only thing I can do: go with the flow. I have hobbies and interests. I like photography. I enjoy football. I love attending local live theater. I even have causes such as supporting animal shelters. So, while I'm not a fascinating person, I find certain things in life fascinating and worth my attention. Those are the things I build my brand around. I share my thoughts on those things with my community. And, hopefully, my passion for them is what makes me interesting.


Your lifestyle might not be flashy, but that doesn't mean you're not interesting. How you express your zeal for those things that are important to you makes you interesting enough to be a brand.


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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Branding vs. Marketing for Authors

Branding 101: What is Author Branding?

3,533 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, author, writing, branding

In a previous post, I explained the difference between a developmental edit and a copy edit. Today I'd like to dive deeper into the value of a skilled developmental editor by asking a pro, Christina Henry de Tessan, for the most common issues she encounters. Here are her top four:


1) Show vs. tell: We all know the old adage, "Show; don't tell." It can be harder, however, to resist the temptation to show and tell. But if you've told us that "Isabel wiped her clammy hands on her too-short skirt and felt a flush of heat in her cheeks when the teacher asked her to stand up and read aloud," you don't then need to tell us that "She was nervous about getting up in her front of her classmates." Nail the details, then trust your reader to figure it out.


2) Dialogue: If you want your writing to shine, it's essential that you get this right. At one end of the spectrum, you want to avoid making your characters sound stilted or bland. At the other, you want to avoid the small talk that can drag down a snappy back-and-forth: "Hi." "Good to see you. How's it going?" "Ok. You?" Finally, read it all out loud.


3) Beware of metaphors and similes: These tempting little crutches can yank a reader right out of the story. "The clouds meandered across the sky like exhaust from an ailing diesel truck" is just distracting. Creative license has its moments, but straightforward language is often the best way to go. If you can't help yourself, just use sparingly and make sure your selected imagery feels appropriate to the story. Finally, keep an eye out for the dreaded mixed metaphors!


4) Character is everything! We don't have to love them, but we do have to care. If your characters are falling flat, you're going to lose your readers. Make them flawed, quirky, arrogant, confused. But more than anything, make them real. And then make them learn something along the way. Write a character who evolves in a credible and compelling way, and you're well on your way.


Many thanks to Christina for lending her expertise to this post!


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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at


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3 Things To Be Aware Of When Editing Your Manuscript

Vishaal Behl - The Top Ten Tips For Editing Your Own Book.

2,264 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, editing, writing, dialogue, show_vs._tell

Okay, it's time for a paradigm shift when it comes to an author's thinking about branding. The artists in most of us don't really cozy up to the idea of branding and marketing and all that commercialism. Still, we want to make a living as authors, indie or otherwise, so we suck it up, and we build our platforms. We write our blog posts, we record our personal videos, we join social networks, etc. And then, invariably, after a particularly hard day or bad week, we look at ourselves in the mirror and we ask, "When do I get to stop doing this? When will the books start selling themselves?"


The answers to the above questions: never and most likely never. Branding is a never-ending journey. The marketing that supports your brand is the fuel needed to continue that journey. With the growing numbers of titles vying for readers' attention every day, week, and year, there is no break in the action if you want to be and stay noticed.


Branding is not a task. It's a way of life. It is you in a public forum being you. It's not something you have to invent. It's something you already are. You're just using you to support your book sales. Stop thinking of this as something you have to do. It's something you're already doing. You're just doing it on a grander scale, and the grander the scale, the more books you sell.


When it comes to building a brand, don't get bogged down with the idea of having to do something. You've already done it. In essence, you're just introducing people to your brand.


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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Branding 101: Tools for Branding

To Brand Or Not To Use Creative Branding - Learn The Real Marketing Secret

4,255 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, self-publishing, writing, promotions, branding

When I'm working on the first draft of a novel, at times it can feel like I'm pushing an enormous boulder up a mountain. Have you ever had that feeling? It's during those periods that I have to trust what I've learned over the course of writing multiple books, which is that I have to keep going. So day after day I force myself to sit down and inch the story along, however slowly, because I know that by doing so, I will eventually reach the end.


Moving the story forward is the key to finishing the first draft. When I was writing my first novel, I spent far too much time tweaking what I'd already written instead of advancing the plot. At the time I thought that approach was a good use of my creative energy, but looking back I realize it was a form of mental procrastination. As a result it took me MUCH longer to finish that book than any of the ones I've written since. Now I don't go back and tweak or do any form of rewriting until I'm pretty much done with the (always rough, sometimes ugly) first pass. I still edit along the way, but I try to avoid anything major until the basic framework of the story is complete.


Believe me, there have been many occasions where I've had to tell myself "Maria, this book isn't going to write itself!" just to get myself to sit down in front of my computer. But I keep pushing that boulder up the mountain, slowly but steadily, because I know how great it will feel when I reach the top and get to watch that first draft roll down the other side and (eventually) turn into a fully formed novel.


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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at


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Writing Tip: Stay Committed to the Process

Discipline to Write

2,321 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, promotion, blogging, writing, writing_process, craft, writing_tips, author_tips, editing_process, writing_adivce, tips_from_author

My writing philosophy is that my only responsibility is to serve the story and the characters within that story. The impact on the reader doesn't come into play when I write. You can agree or disagree with that philosophy. That's not the point of this post.


The point is that when I sit down to write I have this parameter in mind. It's my guidepost. Every time I write something that may be a bit outside the normal social bounds, something that makes me personally uncomfortable, I remind myself of my writing philosophy and recommit to the story with a sense of duty. It's a great device to stay on task and rid myself of that internal judge that may be preventing me from doing what needs to be done in my fictional world.


If you don't have a writing philosophy, I can't encourage you enough to develop one. Write it down and post it somewhere in your writing space, so you can have a visual reminder of why you do what you do whenever you need it.


Once you have your philosophy, make a commitment to hold true to that philosophy. Make a sacred agreement with yourself in good times and difficult times that you will stay committed to honoring that philosophy. Doing so will give your writing a consistency that will serve you well. You'll find yourself writing with more confidence and with a greater passion because you feel as if you are on a mission. Be true to your writing philosophy, and it will serve you in developing a unique literary voice.


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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Make Your Own Rules

Write without Judgment

910 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, writing_philosophy

Write for No One

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Aug 31, 2015

No one will read your book. That's what you should tell yourself every time you sit down to write. I don't think that's true. In fact, I have every reason to believe that your book will be a bestseller that will break every sales record in the publishing industry. I just don't want you to write with the reader and how many copies you will sell in mind.


If you start thinking about the reader when you write, you stop thinking about the story you're writing. What the reader will and won't like is irrelevant to you as a writer. Your job isn't to conform to expectations. Your job is to set expectations. Be bold if that's what your story requires. Be fierce if that's what your story requires. Even be predictable if that's what your story requires.


It's an old refrain of mine. You have no obligation except to those characters playing out the madness you're dreaming up. Think of them and only them when you write. And remember, you're not doing what's best for them. You're using them to fulfill the promise of your story. They are used for the good of the whole. The struggles and conflicts they face are the heartbeat that gives your story life. If you construct those struggles and conflicts in order to please the reader, you're writing an uninspired story with an artificial heartbeat.


Don't find your motivation to write in the reader. Find your inspiration to write in the story you're creating. If you see it from that perspective, it will be a liberating moment for you as you rush to finish your first draft.


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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The "You" In Your Writing

When Writing, Don't Outsmart Yourself

4,234 Views 7 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, writing

Do you feel the creative juices drying up? Has the stress of the day or the week or the “pick your period of time” got you struggling to put down a coherent passage on paper (computer screen)? Never fear because I have just the thing for you. Here are my five cures for those times when you lack the energy to be creative:


  1. Free thought time: Find a hobby centered on creativity outside of writing. Get out of the writer head-space, and redirect your creativity to another activity--something that involves a different way to create. Whether it’s photography, sketching, painting, knitting, etc., alternate creative endeavors can give your creativity more depth and distinctiom.

  2. A walk in the woods: Or on a greenway or in a park, walk wherever you connect with nature. Nature can do wonders to reboot your creativity. The crisp air, the smell of the greenery, the thrill of watching wildlife, there are countless ways in the wild to disconnect from hang-ups and kick-start your creativity.

  3. Work it out by hand: Step away from the computer and your normal writing space, grab a pen and notepad, and start writing without judgement. Just let it flow. You will most likely do some of the worst writing you’ve ever done using this method, but the quality of writing isn’t the point. The point here is to clear your mind of all that junk so you can make way for creative excellence.

  4. Meditate: I’m a student of Transcendental Meditation, and I can tell you from personal experience that meditation makes you feel more balanced and less stressed. Sitting in the dark with your eyes closed for 15-20 minutes focusing on nothing is an excellent way to make for a more fertile, creative mind.

  5. Set yourself up to be inspired: A great book, film or play often inspires me to start creating. I find inspiration in the author’s/creator’s talent, and I’m driven to improve as an artist.


These are five methods I’ve used to help get the creative juices flowing. What’s your strategy? How do you kick-start your creativity?


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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Unblocking Writer's Block

Is the Early Bird More Creative?

3,918 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, self-publishing, writers, writing, creativity, writer's_block, writing_tips, writing_advice, author_tips, advice_for_writers
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