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The Art of Nurturing Your Writing Ideas

The Art of Nurturing Your Writing Ideas

 

    Photo credit: J. Paxon Reyes (CC BY-NC 2.0)

    In my previous post at Lifehack, I wrote about the different means of finding writing ideas. But what if you already have a lot of great ideas? How will you nurture these ideas so that they will blossom into a fantastic blog post or great content?

    The key here is you need to know how to organize disparate ideas to write useful and well-written pieces.

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    1. Store and classify your ideas:

    There are so many ways to gather ideas – books, blog posts, newsletters, suggestions from friends. With so many ideas swirling around, you need to find a way to file them and classify them based on categories and themes.

    I highly recommend tools such as Evernote where you can store all your ideas and put tags on them for reference and/or inspiration for writing.

    2. Draft an outline

    Some writers don’t recommend this method as it is too linear – which doesn’t reflect how the human brain works.

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    That said, as a journalist who needs to beat the daily deadlines, I have to write quick and to the point. Hence, I draft an outline as a guide. I usually start with a thesis statement – the lead – to sum up the most important point of my story. I will then write down sub-leads – statements that will support the thesis and gather evidence (data, research papers and interviews with analysts) to put some meat in the sub-leads.

    3. Use mind maps

    Our ideas don’t usually come in a sequential patterns. Sometimes as we get insights they may or may not be related to the topic at hand. To see connections of what seem to be diverse collections of ideas, try using a mind map.

    Get a paper and pencil and draw a box at the center of the page. This box will serve as a starting point. Write down any idea inside this box and then link the “center” to other ideas come to mind. You will gradually see a pattern emerging, allowing you to see the connections clearly.

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    4. Gather some index cards

    Or yellow sticky notes if you prefer. I recommend this method for longer writing projects like books which have several chapters and can be overwhelming to write. Just remember to have a clean floor so you can out lay out all your index cards and re-arrange them to fit your theme.

    Write down your ideas on your card. Keep them short – just one to two sentences per card. After that lay them down and analyze the connections -can you string then together to form a coherent whole? Are they arranged in sequence or do you need to rearrange them? This is a great way to put order to your to a longer writing piece.

    5. Put a call to action

    Unless you are writing in your journal, you are writing something to address a particular audience. So what do you want your readers to do after reading your article post or book? Do you want them to buy your product or book a consultation with you? Do you want them to click through a link or donate to your favorite charity?

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    Whatever it is, be sure to ask for it. You don’t even need to put the call to action at the end of your post. You can put it in your introduction or write your post to revolve around a specific call to action.

    And in the case of this blog post, this is my call to action: apply one tip that you got from this post in developing a writing idea. Afterwards, contribute comments below on how that tip helped you in writing a post or book.

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    Last Updated on July 3, 2020

    30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

    30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

    In today’s world, true peace must come from within us and our own actions. Here are 30 small things you can do on a regular basis to increase your overall sense of harmony, peace, and well-being:

    1. Don’t go to every fight you’re invited to

    Particularly when you’re around those who thrive on chaos, be willing to decline the invitation to join in on the drama.

    2. Focus on your breath

    Throughout the day, stop to take a few deep breaths. Keep stress at bay with techniques such as “square breathing.” Breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts, then out for four counts, and hold again for four counts. Repeat this cycle four times.

    3. Get organized and purge old items

    A cluttered space often creates a cluttered spirit. Take the time to get rid of anything you haven’t used in a year and invest in organizational systems that help you sustain a level of neatness.

    4. Stop yourself from being judgmental

    Whenever you are tempted to have an opinion about someone else’s life, check your intentions. Judging others creates and promotes negative energy.

    5. Say ‘thank you’ early and often

    Start and end each day with an attitude of gratitude. Look for opportunities in your daily routine and interactions to express appreciation.

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    6. Smile more

    Even if you have to “fake it until you make it,” there are many scientific benefits of smiling and laughing. Also, pay attention to your facial expression when you are doing neutral activities such as driving and walking. Turn that frown upside down!

    7. Don’t worry about the future

    As difficult as this sounds, there is a direct connection between staying in the present and living a more peaceful life. You cannot control the future. As the old proverb goes, “Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.” Practice gently bringing your thoughts back to the present.

    8. Eat real food

    The closer the food is to the state from which it came from the earth, the better you will feel in eating it. Choose foods that grew from a plant over food that was made in a plant.

    9. Choose being happy over being right

    Too often, we sacrifice inner peace in order to make a point. It’s rarely worth it.

    10. Keep technology out of the bedroom

    Many studies, such as one conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital, have connected blue light of electronic devices before bed to adverse sleep and overall health. To make matters worse, many people report that they cannot resist checking email and social media when their cell phone is in reach of their bed, regardless of the time.

    11. Make use of filtering features on social media

    You may not want to “unfriend” someone completely, however you can choose whether you want to follow their posts and/or the sources of information that they share.

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    12. Get comfortable with silence

    When you picture someone who is the ultimate state of peace, typically they aren’t talking.

    13. Listen to understand, not to respond

    So often in conversations, we use our ears to give us cues about when it is our turn to say what we want to say. Practice active listening, ask questions, process, then speak.

    14. Put your troubles in a bubble

    Whenever you start to feel anxious, visualize the situation being wrapped in a bubble and then picture that sphere floating away.

    15. Speak more slowly

    Often a lack of peace manifests itself in fast or clipped speech. Take a breath, slow down, and let your thoughtful consideration drive your words.

    16. Don’t procrastinate

    Nothing adds stress to our lives like waiting until the last minute.

    17. Buy a coloring book

    Mandala coloring books for adults are becoming more popular because of their connection to creating inner peace.

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    18. Prioritize yourself

    You are the only person who you are guaranteed to live with 24 hours a day for the rest of your life.

    19. Forgive others

    Holding a grudge is hurting you exponentially more than anyone else. Let it go.

    20. Check your expectations

    Presumption often leads to drama. Remember the old saying, “Expectations are premeditated resentments.”

    21. Engage in active play

    Let your inner child come out and have some fun. Jump, dance, play, and pretend!

    22. Stop criticizing yourself

    The world is a hard enough place with more than enough critics. Your life is not served well by being one of them.

    23. Focus your energy and attention on what you want

    Thoughts, words, and actions all create energy. Energy attracts like energy. Put out what you want to get back.

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    24. Assign yourself “complaint free” days.

    Make a conscious decision not to complain about anything for a whole day. It might be harder than you think and the awareness will stick with you.

    25. Surround yourself with people you truly enjoy being in the company of

    Personalities tend to be contagious, and not everyone’s is worth catching. Be judicious in your choices.

    26. Manage your money

    Financial concerns rank top on the list of what causes people stress. Take the time each month to do a budget, calculate what you actually spend and sanity check that against the money you have coming in.

    27. Stop trying to control everything

    Not only is your inner control freak sabotaging your sense of peace, it is also likely getting in the way of external relationships as well.

    28. Practice affirmations

    Repeat positive phrases that depict the life and qualities you want to attract. It may not come naturally to you, but it works.

    29. Get up before sunrise

    Personally witnessing the dawn brings a unique sense of awe and appreciation for life.

    30. Be yourself

    Nothing creates more inner discord than trying to be something other than who we really are. Authenticity breeds happiness.

    Featured photo credit: man watching sunrise via stokpic.com

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