N is for Notetaking

You want to write. You have a million brilliant ideas, clever sparks of inspiration. But you have a problem. All your genius ideas seem to strike when you have not the inclination or ability to develop them into their full brilliance. You meet a quirky fellow at a networking event, who, you think to yourself, would be an ideal character for your book, but you have to sit through a three-hour luncheon before you’re able to jot down his mannerisms, and by the time you get home, you are so drained from small talk and drunk from wine, that you forget you even met the man. Or, you’re having coffee with a friend, and she offers you a snippet of advice that wows you; that helps you to see clearly and you know it’s important for you to write it out and stick it on your desk, as a constant reminder. But the advice comes through her own struggle, as she pours out her heart about a recent loss. It would hardly be appropriate for you to pull out your iPhone.

How do you capture these ideas, these gems, before they slip through the cracks in your mind and are lost, potentially forever? I often think, as I take out my laptop and struggle to release even a word or two, that it is not ideas I lack; it is the net that catches them. So I’m building a net. I’m


Copyright Jen Danger 2014

taking out my phone (when appropriate) and writing a memo to self for later. I’m carrying a notebook and pen with me when possible, and when I have a dull moment, rather than play candy crush, I’m writing the inspiration that’s all around me, if only I would learn to open my eyes and see it.

There are lots of smart ways to use technology to aid you in recording and maximising your ideas. Click here for one writer’s practical guide (that I admit is slightly over my head) on which apps to use and how to use them. I tend to just stick to pen and paper, the built-in Notes function on my phone, and my laptop, although I’m also trying out a few other apps such as Evernote, and I regularly use my WordPress app (though more for admin than ideas).

How do you capture your ideas?


Know Your Value

I was so excited when a couple of weeks ago a friend of mine asked me to assist her with her book project, on a paid basis. I was honoured that she’d choose to include me in her book-writing journey. I so believe in her and what she has to offer the world, and since she works in the not for profit sector, I offered to work on the project pro bono, and refused to quote her an hourly rate. She thanked me, and said maybe we’d see about that.

I’ve worked on plenty of paid projects before, some on a self-employed basis, some in-house or as part of a salaried job. I know that I’m experienced and good at what I do. But there’s always this part of me that doubts myself and what I have to offer. Sometimes, such as in situations like this one, I wonder whether it’s truly because of my generosity, and my passion to help another in their writing journey, or if it is because of self-doubt. I find myself wondering, What if they don’t like what I do? What if I missed something? What if I’m not professional enough in my approach? What if I’m too professional? What if I come across as critical? Who am I, to do this? What do I really have to offer? The questions and negative thoughts can often seem endless.

Maybe what I present as being generous and sacrificial really speaks of my vulnerability as a writer/editor. Maybe I hide behind a mask of good deeds and worthy causes, because I fear that if I place a value on my work and my service, someone might turn around and say, “You’re not worth it.”

I believe that generosity with my time and my gifting is part of my mandate, and I hope that however advanced I am in my career, I will always dedicate a portion of my time to investing into others. But I also know that I need to keep my thoughts, motivations and confidence in check. Writing can be a lonely and vulnerable journey, and if I look to others to appraise my worth, my work will reflect that.

Be confident in who you are, and what you have to offer the world. Know your value, and know that whether you decide to give your work away or put a price on it,who you are and what you give is priceless.

A Gift

Jen Danger:

My beautiful and creative genius friend Sairz just dedicated her latest piece to me 😊❤️ Have a listen!

I love sharing creativity. There is little that is more genuine, heartfelt, or personal than a gift springing from your talent and passion. Share your words, music, art, or whatever it is you have to give, with another today. Xx

Originally posted on Sarah Shah:

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Write the Blurb

Are you stuck on your latest book? Or do you have an idea for a novel inside you, but you don’t know where to start? Whatever stage of the process you’re at, a helpful exercise can be to write the blurb that would go on the back cover. You’ll need to simplify your ideas enough to clarify your structure and plot, and you’ll also find it gives you an overview to know where there might be gaps in your project. Try it! :)

Idea Generator

Let me introduce you to an idea generator. All you need is a die. Roll twice for who, and once for every other category. You can then write a short piece based on your result.


Copyright Jen Danger 2014

So, for example, I roll 2, 6, 2, 5, and 4. I could then try to write a story about how an asylum seeker bumped into a millionaire when they were both admitted to hospital at the same time, which resulted in an important decision, that will affect both of their futures. Try to give your story a little depth. Name your characters. Here’s an unedited excerpt from my attempt:

As I do every morning, I started my day in prayer. I thanked God for allowing me to escape the war, I asked for the safety of my parents and friends still in Syria. I forgave those who want to hurt me, and I blessed those who have helped me. Today. Today would be the day that would change everything. I told myself this as I prayed, as I told myself every morning.

I started coughing. I have a constant sore throat, but I usually ignore it. Today, I could no longer ignore it, because I coughed up blood. One of the other women called for help as I collapsed (whether from weakness or fear, I don’t know), and the next thing I knew, I was in the emergency department of a local hospital, despite my protests. It was there that I met Ray.

The opportunities are endless from this. I might never again look at this quick response to the given prompts, but it served a valuable purpose in warming me up for my writing. Or, I could find myself intrigued by the ideas that were generated, and decide to try to develop the story. I’d then spend some time on background research, for example into the Syrian war, treatment of refugees, an illness that might be the possible cause for our main character’s admittance into hospital. The opportunities are endless; the only limit, my imagination.

Why don’t you give the idea generator a go? I made mine very quickly using the first things that came into my head, which maybe were influenced by the news, things I care about, something I’d read, and so on. Use mine, create your own table, or ask a friend to make one for you. You could even play it as a game with your friends or children. I’d love to hear what you’ve created!

O is for Others

Recently, I attended a local group in my community for writers. I had no idea what or who to expect, and felt apprehensive as I walked into the little room off the library. I was warmly welcomed and introduced to the ten or so other writers who were there; who represented a variety of genres, experience levels, backgrounds and success. It was a group of mixed personalities and tastes, but who had a common interest and purpose: writing.

After a quick recap of a recent trip to a self publishing house that a couple of the group had been to, each of the writers took it in turn to share an excerpt of recent work (apart from the odd “I’ve been too busy this week” or “I’ve nothing to share”, or mine: “I’ll just watch this time, thanks”). The group responded to the different pieces with laughs in the right places, thoughtful comments and encouragement, as well as discussions on how work could be improved or any inconsistencies noticed.

More than anything, I valued the reminder of how important it is to have a supportive community around you. If you want to be a writer, surround yourself with other writers. Not only will you gain new friends, but you’ll have people who understand you (not everyone can relate to needing to turn the light on at 3am because you’ve awoken from a nightmare that would make a brilliant book!) and a library of people who can offer help, encouragement, and accountability.

I suggested to a friend recently about joining a writers group, and she commented that she was concerned about idea-stealing, and this is a valid point. Sharing with other writers does involve a certain amount of trust, vulnerability and respect. You’re all in the same boat here, and you’ll only ever share what you feel comfortable in sharing. What I’ve found in both formal and informal meetings with other writers is that 99% of the time, people will celebrate your ideas and help you to develop them, but have their own idea or project that they’re working on and they’re not interested in taking on yours.

If you’re not sure about going along to an existing group, why not start your own? You’d be surprised at who in your world would be interested in joining a group focussed around writing. Now I can almost hear you yelling at me, “But I can’t do that!”, “What do I have to offer?”, “I’m only just beginning to write!” and so on. The point here isn’t that you have to be any kind of expert (or I wouldn’t be sat here right now writing this blog….) but more that you can facilitate something and bring other like minded or similarly inspired people together to create a community around a cause. Promise me you’ll think about it?!


PS. Just to demonstrate the power of others, this blog was written because of another person. I have never met Jade. Apart from a few mutual friends and interests, I know little about her. Yet we share a connection, a love for words. Earlier this week, Jade commented on my blog to say that she’d missed my posts. It’s true, I haven’t blogged in over a month. Very slack of me! But, if I’m brutally honest, I didn’t care too much, mainly because I didn’t think anyone else would notice or care. It took Jade’s encouraging comment to remind me. So, this blog is for Jade, and here’s to the power of others!