Unlock the Muse – June 20, 2018

We’re nearing the end of June. Summer officially begins tomorrow. I don’t know what it’s like where you are, but where I live, temperatures are growing uncomfortably warm. But I am from Oregon, and what is uncomfortable to me is time-to-put-the-sweaters-away perfect for someone else.

Your writing prompt for this week is:

Characterization check: Take a central character from your latest story, and jot down attributes, physical features, mannerisms, goals, fears, secrets and any other relevant characteristics. Take this list and compare it to your story, do you spot any places where he or she is acting “out of character”?

Fiction comes from a variety of sources – history, observation, experience, pure imagination. From The 3 A.M. Epiphany, by Brian Kiteley:

Fiction need not be the least bit autobiographical, or it may be nearly pure autobiography. Nevertheless, the exploration of your own history can be very useful in the search for subject matter for your fiction. Even the most experimental, objective, or distanced story usually has an element of autobiography in it, something analogous to the author’s experience.

Explore your personal history. Write down your memories, experiences, observations. Keep a journal and play around with the ideas, see where they take you.

It’s vocabulary week! I haven’t been especially inspired by a specific word lately. So let’s take a look at a potentially dangerous word:



1. The action of delaying or postponing something.

It also has some fun and interesting synonyms: dithering, stalling, hesitation, vacillation, dilly-dallying, shilly-shallying.

The word procrastination is derived from the Latin verb procrastinare, combining the prefix pro- “forward” with crastinus “of tomorrow” – hence, moving something forward from one day until the next. Here is a fun article on the history of the word procrastination from slate.com.

Happy writing!

Please consider sharing your response to the writing exercise. Got a question? Just ask!

Unlock the Muse – January 17, 2018

January is half over already! What progress are you making on your goals? For myself, I finally managed to do some writing this week. Not much, but it’s a start.

Here’s your writing exercise to help get the words flowing this week:

Start with: “Never underestimate…”

What have you underestimated that turned out completely wrong? Extrapolate on that and turn it into fuel for your fiction. Ask yourself a series of “what if?” questions and see how far you can take it.

Whatever you do, don’t underestimate yourself!

According to Walter Mosley in This Year You Write Your Novel, simply writing every day isn’t enough. Carve out a specific time for your writing. Put in the time even if you aren’t putting down any words. It can be too easy to suddenly give in to the need to wash the dishes, fold the laundry or mow the lawn. Make sure your family and neighbors know you aren’t available during this time. This time is for writing. As Mosley puts it:

Don’t write in the journal unless you’re writing a chapter of your book. Save the world at 8:30 instead of 7:00. Let the lawn get shaggy and the paint peel from the walls. For that time you have set aside to write your novel, don’t do anything else. Turn the ringer off on your phone. Don’t answer the doorbell.

Set aside the distractions. Don’t let procrastination derail your writing.

riting Question of the Month: Speaking of procrastination, what is your favorite non-writing activity?

My answer: If I discount reading (which I consider a writing-related activity!), Netflix has become my go-to distraction. I’m currently binge watching Once Upon a Time.

Please consider sharing your response to the writing exercise. Got a question? Just ask! Put it in the comments below, or send your question by email here: