Tag Archives: writing inspiration

Finding Inspiration in Weird Places

By Amanda Smyth Connor

I am what they (I) call a mockingbird writer, meaning I tend to write in the style that I have most recently been exposed to.


Case in Point #1: Last week, I re-read “Bossypants” by Tina Fey…for the third time.  I think it gets funnier every time I read it.

After brief episodes of reading, I would go back to my writing assignments to find that I was writing in shorter, more staccato sentences and more often than not I would make some lame attempt at a Liz Lemon-style self-deprecating joke.

Case in Point #2: I finished Bossypants and moved on to a Stephen King classic, “It.” Things took a decidedly darker turn in my writing projects, to which my editor simply wrote back to me:  “WTF?”

I find writing inspiration in odd places, but most notably from the style of book I’m reading at any given time. It’s a gift and a curse. [My editor assures me that it’s a curse. ]

Have you experienced this mockingbird style of writing? Where do you find your best writing inspiration?

Amanda Smyth Connor is a social media manager for a major publishing company and has managed online communities and content development for many start-up and Fortune 500 companies.  She has been a professional editor for more years than she can remember.

Free Your Mind – Write for Fun

By Amanda Smyth Connor

The author as a young zombie. Find your inspiration!
The author as a young zombie. Find your inspiration!

When was the last time you wrote for fun? Seriously. When was the last time you put pen to paper/fingers to keyboard to write prose or a free-wheeling blog post or a dirty limerick just for fun?

You can’t work your fingers to the bone every day and not have any fun, you have to flex your creative muscles every once in awhile. In fact, don’t just flex them, let them rock some 5″ heels and encourage them to cut loose to some early Madonna! You’ve got to break out of the doldrums of writing once in awhile, for your own sanity.

Do you remember why you got into writing in the first place? Was it a love of poetry or was it a favorite author who inspired you? Was there a high school or college class that awakened your writing senses? Keep your writing fresh and exciting by writing in different formats as a “writing vacation.”

I invested in one of those small, silly “spark idea” books, whereby random ideas and images are listed with the expectation that you will be inspired by these snippets enough to write something wonderfully creative. My only issue with these ideas is that they are too vanilla to inspire any great creativity within my tilted mind. So instead, I offer you some “spark ideas” of my own.

1. Describe your version of how the zombie apocalypse will come to be and the role that you will play in said apocalypse.

2. Write a haiku about the last time you stepped in dog poop.

3. What’s the worst smell you have ever smelled? Describe using colorful analogies.

4. What’s your opinion of the “suggested serving size” of a standard package of Oreos?

5. What’s your favorite “bad 80’s song”? Let’s explore the song title.  Hint: Start with “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.”

6. Write a dirty limerick that incorporates the phrase “aluminum siding.”

7. Famous Quotes: “Who is your daddy and what does he do?” -Arnold Schwarzenegger.

What “spark ideas” get your juices flowing when you’ve hit a wall?

Amanda Smyth Connor is a social media manager for a major publishing company, owns her own wedding planning business, and has managed online communities and content development for many start-up and Fortune 500 companies.  She has been a professional editor for more years than she can remember.

Freelance Writing Lessons From Henry Rollins

New freelance writers can learn a lot from Henry Rollins.  Many people wrote Rollins off as “the guy who ruined Black Flag.” He took those early dire personal struggles–and all criticism of him as an artist– and used it all as inspiration to just keep going, battering away at a variety of projects to see what would work. Whatever you think about 70s punk, Rollins is definitely a success. He went from being an always-broke, semi-starving musical outsider to a one-man industry thanks to relentless speaking tours, small press publication, film appearances and other multi-media work.

Rollins is a force to be reckoned with when he sets his mind to putting the word out on a new project. He’s what every freelancer should be–a tireless promoter of the task at hand. Not everyone can live up to the demands of a self-employed creative person, but Rollins shows us how to do it right. Never rest, forget about self-defeating attitudes and activities. Keep your eyes on the prize.

Rollins is not the world’s greatest writer, but he’s got a real talent for non-fiction. He’s at his best when he’s writing travel pieces–his observations about life in other countries (and ours) is top notch. His fiction work is violent, transgressive and often funny, but he shows more writing prowess in his personal observations. The Portable Henry Rollins is a great primer for his work, and it is easy to take inspiration from his writing. Check out the selections from Get In The Van and his other titles…you’ll instantly get the attitude, the ferocity, the refusal to roll over and die–all the attributes a freelancer should have–or at least aspire to. You won’t learn how to make money freelance writing with this book, but you’ll take away a new sense of purpose for your own work. Rollins is infectious like that.

We Are Watching!

People really should be careful how act in public. Of how they treat people. Of what they say to others. We are watching. The writers all over the world need to tell a story, and if people aren’t careful–it just might wind up being theirs. There is nothing that a writer loves more than to have material dropped in their lap with little effort. Many writers I know get their ideas for stories or characters by eavesdropping on other people’s conversations in line, at the store and during lunch.

Just the other day, I overheard a woman talking to her son as he tried to eat lunch. “You could have caught that fly ball, you know,” she snarled. His eyes drifted out the window, as if trying to escape to the street outside. “Hey,” she snapped, tugging soundly at his arm, “are you listening to me mister?” She was caught in the act and didn’t even know that someone else was watching this ugly scene.

And now you are reading about her. Just like that.

Continue reading We Are Watching!