Lyric Fire: 25 Unconventional Things You Can Do To Become A Better Writer!

Sometimes as writers knowing the mechanics of the craft isn’t enough. You can be the most structured and perfected scribe and still bore people to tears. What good is it to be a writer, if no one wants to read what you’ve created?

My brain is always buzzing with ideas so I’ve come up with 25 unconventional things we all can do to pump more feeling and flavor into our writing whether we’re penning poetry, writing technical business articles or constructing a new novel. Share your own ideas or things you’ve heard about in the comments so we can grow this list!

Fully Embrace Your Spirituality:

Can reading the Bible or going to temple make you a better writer? I think it can. When we are in balance and in tune with God, great things happen. In your daily prayers, ask for the ability to dissect life in a creative way and be a better wordsmith. Ask and you shall receive!

Travel:

Do you only want to write about your four walls? Or do you want to create colorful worlds and document exotic locations in your writing? Getting out and seeing the world can translate into wonderful passages in your work. Imagine being able to describe Caribbean beaches in explicit detail or breathe life into Paris streets and night life!

Read Trashy Novels:

Not only will reading trashy novels help you release tension and stress, but you can also use them as an exercise in editing. In your head as you read, (you can even re-write them down on paper if you choose) recreate scenes and chapters re-purposing them into high literary art!

Fall In Love:

When we are in love or falling, our emotions are at an all time high, the sun shines brighter, music sounds better and there is a bounce to our walk. Starting a writing project at a happy time in our life can be very fruitful. Use all of those positive and happy feelings to create something truly special. The challenge here is to reserve the time away from our new loved one to pour that residual magic into words.

Get A Twitter Account:

What better way to practice brevity in writing than on Twitter where you are only allotted 140 characters to express a thought? Posting on Twitter every day can help you craft more concise sentences. Editing is a very important part of writing.

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Get A Dog:

Walking your dog can help you get fit and will also put you in situations where you can meet other dog walkers. Some of the most interesting people you will ever meet have dogs. This kind of networking can help you on character building or perhaps give you the opportunity to meet a heart surgeon whom you can interview for your next piece you’re submitting to WebMD.com.

Go To Parties:

Another way to people watch and network is to go to some parties. Even if you’re a wall flower, seeing how people interact and move in a casual setting can help you as you write similar scenes in your work. You may even meet a love connection or at least a fling which can also lend itself to some exciting writing.

Create A Blog:

One of the best things I ever did for my writing career was to create my blog! Having a place to release my thoughts and also using it as a way to keep myself honest when it comes to writing on the regular is invaluable! Not to mention all of the networking opportunities and other bloggers you get to connect to. Blogging is a writer’s best friend.

Re-Read The Classics:

I know a lot of us complained about reading the classics when we were in high school or college because they were so darn hard to get through, but as adults it’s easier and you’d be surprised how much you will enjoy them now. I equate reading the classics to weight lifting. With all of the reality TV and other frivolous forms of entertainment we’re exposed to we need to do some mental weight work sometimes. If you are thinking about writing a period piece or doing some research for a non-fiction project about history, reading some earlier writings can be very helpful.

Write More Letters:

There is nothing more intimate than writing a letter, whether it is addressed to a friend or lover. Taking the time to slow down and print or write in cursive on fine paper or a card slows the heart rate down. Also, if you’ve ever noticed, we take better care when we put pen or pencil to paper. Writing is not a race, it is an art-form and sometimes going slower can make us better.

Go To Book Expos:

I could write paragraphs about the benefits of going to book expos, but here are just a few things: meeting other writers, going to conferences, getting free books, learning new trends in publishing and did I mention the free books? Immersing yourself into your craft in this way is like eating your literary Wheaties. Do this and often. Your writing will thank you.

Take Up New Hobbies:

Anytime you learn something new, you are building a pathway to better writing. Being able to describe something you’ve just learned and explain it with clarity and flair is the mark of a great writer.

Break Up With Someone:

No one wants to do this, but sometimes it can be necessary and healthy, especially if the relationship is toxic or run its course. Holding onto a person who isn’t good for you can hinder your writing and other areas of your life. Also, working out our emotions in reality builds self esteem and confidence and can help us be more bold and honest in our writing. It worked for singer Adele! Her pure melodious voice no doubt helped her album 21 shoot up the charts and earn her countless awards and achievements, but it was what she was singing about that registered with her fans. What was that you might ask? Most of the songs on her album were centered around a break-up with her boyfriend. Pain can be a good thing when it comes to writing and creating art. Use it!

Stalk Your Favorite Writer On Facebook:

Okay, maybe not stalk, but “like” their page and become privy to their writing habits and other valuable pieces of information they may share about the writing process. To be the best, you should know how the best writers roll!

Take A Road Trip With Your Bestie:

Road trip! Road trip! Eating snacks, singing off key and car dancing while trying not to run out of gas is loads of fun, but road trips can also be very educational. Take photos and document your journey (do a live blog!) and make sure you meet people and ask questions. Writers are very nosy by nature so use this quality to your advantage. Experiences are to be written about.

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Splurge On A New Smart Phone Or Tablet:

As an early adopter and gadget girl, this is a given for me, as I get a new phone almost every year, but for others this may be a challenge. As the publishing landscape changes, writers should be on top of all of the new e-publishing trends and having the tools of the trade is the best way to stay educated. If you have an iPad or Smart Phone try writing your next blog post on it and seeing if you like the experience. Writing well sometimes means working smarter, not harder.

Strike Up Conversations With Strangers:

Writers can be shy, but throw that off to the side and engage people. How do you expect to engage your readers if you can’t chop it up with a stranger once in a while? The next person you introduce yourself to just might be an acquisitions editor. Stranger things have happened. I’m also a dialogue driven writer so whenever I chat up someone new, I’m listening for accents, regional dialects, and the like. A conversation is always a potential scene in my book.

Change Your Work Commute Route:

Inspiration can come in the form of a balled up piece of paper blowing across a highway lane. If you travel the same way to work or school each day you are depriving yourself of different moments. If you travel differently, you may write differently.

Eat At A New Restaurant Every Week:

Foodies unite! I love restaurants not only for the opportunity to eat and enjoy new foods, but the wait staff, cooks, cashiers and other customers are usually great character material! Some snack shacks have free WiFi too and are great places to write. As an exercise, take your laptop, visit a new food stop and create a scene using five people in the restaurant as characters.

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Ditch Vanilla Sex And Do Something Wild!:

Endorphins! Yes! Great sex is good for the body and the mind and those fabulous feelings can spill over onto the page. Keeping it spicy in the bedroom (bathroom, kitchen or on the balcony) makes for a happy writer and a happy writer writes better! Also, share some of your sex tips with your lead character. No one has to know!

Book Five-Star & Dive Hotel Rooms:

Most of us would want to stay at a five star hotel, a dive, not so much. Remember though, the lives we write about, report about and document aren’t always pretty and it’s good to explore the underbelly of life as well as the glamorous elements. The next time you’re in a good or bad hotel, imagine the person who was there before you, why they were there, what they were escaping from or running to. Were they alone? Did they pick someone up? Look in the drawers, they may have left behind some clues. Use them in your writing.

Take A Spontaneous Drive To Nowhere:

When I was living in Detroit, I loved jumping into my creme colored Cadillac and driving for hours (gas was cheaper back then) with no destination in mind. I discovered some great private spots and shops and met some provocative characters. Some of the best conversations I had were with people I met on the road and a few of them have made their way into my poetry or other writing.

Invite A Friend You Haven’t Seen In A While To Dinner:

The best characters aren’t always strangers, but people we already know. When was the last time you had a heart to heart talk with a close friend and learned something new about them? Do this also in your writing. Put your characters in situtations where they can be vulnerable and reveal secrets that will surprise even you, their creator.

Keep Books And Magazines In Your Bathroom:

They say a writer will read with satisfaction a can of creamed corn so why not keep reading material that can spark your mind in a place where you are your most relaxed? I have read whole novels in just a few sittings in the little girl’s room! The more we read, the better we write!

Interview Elderly People:

Whether it’s your own grandparents or other elderly family members or family of friends or strangers, people who have lived and seen things are so valuable to writers. They hold precious memories that we can use to craft stories, write articles and countless books. Older people are our life source and should be leaned on and valued. We live, because they lived before us. Let’s carry their legacies on in our words.

© 2012 – 2014, TamekaMullins. All rights reserved.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Comments (36 Responses)

  1. Wow, Tameka! Very unconventional, but truly inspirational. To stay creative, we must do things creatively, passionately, and learn to think outside the box.
    And, I’m totally with you with maintaining the strong connection with the Lord.
    Blessings, my dear, and thanks for the advice!

  2. Leah says:

    Tameka, what a fabulous article! These ideas sound like a lot of fun;) I’m picturing you in your cream colored Cadillac cruising through Detroit. What fodder!!
    I’m impressed with your ideas and I can’t wait to try some of them out. The nice thing is that you can be broke and still afford to try most of them. Some I’ve already done, and reading this reminded me that I needed to do them again. Great stuff chica!

  3. Ha! Thanks Leah. I miss my old Caddy. She was very good to me! Ahh those creme colored seats. The memories! Yes, I’m so glad you’re going to revisit some of these try some new ideas as well. No, you don’t need to have much money for some of them, but I’m really looking forward to booking another five star hotel soon. Actually there is a dive in my neighborhood that’s very intriguing that I may try out. I’m thinking there are some interesting characters behind those walls. 😉

  4. Hey Martha! When we put God first, he puts us first. I always come up with the best ideas right after prayer (I came up with this blog post after my morning prayer today) and I am at my most creative when I am in tune spiritually. Thanks so much for always being so supportive and for your feedback. Blessings to you too!

  5. I have read half this morning and the other this afternoon. I’ve bookmarked it on my laptop and have printed it in the office so I could mull over it and reflect on it everyday 🙂
    Having a relationship with Jesus is great 😀
    I also need to be in love! hmmm…I’ll pass with the twitter and the dog part though and the wild part LOL (what is that?)
    Well, I’m stalking you and … and … shhh!
    You are a profound writer. I love your spirituality and motivation 🙂 Thank you for sharing this.

  6. Tameka – you really rock – absolutely out of the box and brilliant ideas here. Recently I’ve started writing the old-fashioned way – with a book and a pencil – and it’s really helping me to clarify my thoughts much better than the computer! Sharing this for sure! ♥

  7. AJ says:

    Perhaps I could be a writer – I do most of the items in your list. I’m a travel blogger so I do love to travel, go on road trips, talk to strangers, and read while on a plane or bus. And you’re right about interviewing elderly people. They imbue the past with such vividness, clarity, and immediacy. I talk to my elderly mom about our family history. I even take notes like a journalist, haha. Oh, and I’m also a lover, so I’m in love every day. I guess I’ll just skip the breaking up part. 🙂

  8. I was smiling reading your comment Melissa! It thrills me that you are printing this post and will refer back to it. Quiet as kept, I will be too. There are a few things that I want to do as well and having written and instructed others will make me do them as well. I’m laughing at the fact that you’re not into Twitter. I wasn’t either at first and now I’m hooked! That’s okay because you are a Facebook Queen. 🙂
    As far as being wild, I’m leaving that up to everyone’s imagination. Wink, wink. Thanks so much for your feedback dear heart! Cheers!

  9. Corinne, I so agree regarding writing in long hand. That is how I do a lot of my posts. Things flow a little better sometimes when my fingers are wrapped around a pen. Going back to basics is definitely a good way to stay creative. Cheers my dear!

  10. Well AJ, it sounds like to me that you ARE a writer already! Great habits! Yes, please skip the break up stuff if you’re happy and in love. Actually, reading your comment made me go back into the post and tweak that suggestion. I didn’t want to make it seem like I wanted people out there breaking hearts all willy nilly. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and for visiting Lyric Fire! You are valued here! 🙂

  11. janu says:

    I always first write in my journal, and then post it…this helps me in making whatever changes I want.
    Wonderful and helpful post indeed.

  12. Hi Janu! What a helpful tip! Thanks for your comment and your visit!

  13. Lori Chase says:

    It’s as if you know me, Tameka! 🙂 I used to live by a list like this. Thank you for reminding me! All of these ideas are excellent for kickstarting your creative juices.

  14. You’re quite welcome Lori! I hope this post motivates you to get back to writing! Cheers! Thanks for reading!

  15. Jessica says:

    I loved these suggestions…I’d say the two methods that have really helped me with my writing is reading as much as I can as well as just going out and living life. Experiences provide a deep well in which I can always draw fresh water from that, hopefully, permeates what I write with a relevancy people can relate to.
    Great article!

  16. Thanks Jessica! So true! In order to be great writers, we have to read and live our lives to the fullest. Great suggestions!

  17. Andy says:

    Dear Tameka,
    These are some fantastic tips, many of which I already incorporate into my life. Even though I only post to my blog 2-3 times a week, I write everyday. Not a day goes by without my penning something. If I don’t write, it’s like something is missing from my life. My wife bought me an ipod some months ago & I still haven’t figured out how to use it properly! As for Twitter…I’m at a loss. I know how to tweet my posts & that of others….beyond that, I’m fairly clueless! (LOL). No one can doubt your creativity or your passion. Keep it up my dear! Great post!
    http://thoughtsofbeautyinthestillnessofdawn.blogspot.com/

  18. Elramey says:

    What fantastic advice! So many of these resonate with me. Before I offer my own advice though, I’ll comment on “Fall in Love.” There is a connection between libido and creativity that isn’t commonly recognized. When smitten by Eros it’s like electricity coursing through the blood and bones, and that powerful energy has to go somewhere. Sometimes people find themselves in a situation where they must sublimate. Moving right along… 😉
    I’d add that the greatest obstacle to finding one’s own style is the tendency to keep an outward focus. Too many external voices mute our own unique writing voice. I have found Rainer Maria Rilke’s advice worth following.
    “You are looking outward, and that above all you should not do now…There is only one single way. Go into yourself.”

  19. Debra as always your insights are so valuable! I loved what you had to say about those coursing hormones and the relation of passion and creativity. Lush stuff indeed! 🙂
    I agree that we are often looking to outside influences for answers and to spark our creativity, but often times we already have what we need. We just need to strike the match and get those flames rising! Thanks for the visit! 🙂

  20. Andy you are to be commended! Not only for your lovely writing habits but for joining Twitter. I think you’re doing great! Once you’re on for a while you will learn new ways to use it and then you will become an old pro. You are the very example of what this post was trying to express. To be great writers we have to live full lives, learn new things and be open to experiences. We have to try to do all of the things (within reason) that some of our subjects might do or at least put ourselves in the position to understand, listen and learn. Cheers!

  21. Dawn says:

    These are all wonderful suggestions! I love the “spontaneous drives to nowhere” one. I would add listening to music as a biggie. Music is a neverending source of inspiration to my writerly soul. Looking closely…very closely, at a flower and observing the microcosmic world therein is another favorite. Looking closely at ANYthing, really, is a good one. We get so busy with everyday living that we forget to be observant and quiet. That’s when Beauty reveals herself, sweeps a magnificent curtsy and extends her graceful hand. 🙂
    – Dawn

  22. momto8blog says:

    loving this thoughtful post!! and your interesting ideas!! i think I agree with all of them…except read trashy novels…i wouldn’t waste my time…
    I am your newest follower..pls follow back if you can.
    have fun writing and thinking!!

  23. Yes! I was going to add music, but I figured one of my lovely followers would suggest it and I was right. Music is my mainstay and it always sparks creativity in me. You are the best Dawn! 🙂

  24. Hi Annmarie! Thanks so much for stopping by. I’m glad you liked the list. Trashy novels aren’t for everyone, but one person’s trash can be another’s treasure! Substitute another guilty pleasure in its place. When we relax and enjoy something we don’t usually take part in it can spark our creativity. Give it a try. I also followed you. Love your blog! 🙂

  25. fhermission says:

    Great suggestions and tips,
    I like the idea of literal writing, it’s becoming a lost art…and yes, it slows the heart rate…makes you more relax when scribbling.
    Keep it going!!!
    Fher

  26. Thanks so much Fher! Letter writing rocks! 🙂

  27. rimly says:

    Just goes to show how unconventional you are, my friend. I loved some of the tips…go to parties, have a dog, break up with someone…talk to elderly people. Loved them.
    http://rimlybezbaruah.blogspot.in/2012/07/snapshots.html

  28. Thanks so much Rimly! Glad you enjoyed the post! 🙂

  29. Mrs.B says:

    Hello Tameka,
    When I read your comment on Annamarie’s Mom28blog, I had to visit and give you 2 thumbs up for the best quote of the day … “The grass may not be greener, but it’s up to you to water your own lawn.”
    LOVE IT! LOVE IT! I may have to borrow that quote, if you don’t mind.
    Mrs.B

  30. Hi Mrs. B! Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Yes, you may borrow the quote! I’m glad it resonated with you!

  31. ..everything in this world starts from scratch..
    ..i am sure all these points that you have put forward will help wanna be writers into wonderful writers…
    ..i for sure will keep all these things in mind..
    ..thanks for sharing such a wonderful post..
    ..falling in love really does help us become better writers..as it brings out the best in us.. 😉 😉

  32. Hi Rigzin! Thanks so much for your wonderful comment! I truly hope these writer tips although unconventional, are helpful. 🙂

  33. Alaina Marks says:

    Great List Girlie!! I’m actually already doing or have done a few on your list but never thought hey this could make me a better writer!! Happy Writing!

  34. Hi Alaina! Thanks so much for visiting Lyric Fire! I look forward to reading your work as well. Cheers!

  35. Funny, about the Twitter item on 140 characters….in starting my new blog for writing, I only use 150 words or less for each entry. Figure all those yrs of broadcast news stories should be good for practice. Lol

  36. Wow Lisa, that would be a challenge for any writer to not go over 150 words in a blog post. I know you can do it though!

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