July 22, 2008

How to Write Ideas that Lift Themselves Off the Page — Every Time!

published this at 7:56 am

Even the Humblest Star Still Shines


A writer makes meaning by giving thoughts structure and expression. Whether we write to inform, entertain, or inspire, we hope our message will leave the page or the screen to be received in a reader’s mind. It’s no easy thing to connect simple words in ways that have life and meaning. It can seem that we’re at the mercy of an unfriendly muse who is stingy with ideas and generous writer’s block. That’s just not so.

Writing isn’t the luck of ideas. It’s work. It’s also knowing how to access ideas.

A photographer knows that the best light will offer the opportunity to shoot the fabulous picture. A composer knows that the right sort of silence will allow him or her to hear music no one’s heard before. In the same way, writers know that making room to think makes masterful writing is easier.

We write best when we have room to think long, deep thoughts.

Self conscious and selfish ideas need small spaces to thrive. Stressed and cranky tones and sloppy logical fall away when we give ourselves room to think. Our minds can’t hold fear and think long and deep and wide at the same time.

Thinking long thoughts is like deep breathing or stretching with a yawn. In a writerly way, it’s a shot of oxygen to our creativity.

Put on music on to write or sit with the sounds outside your window. In some way give myself room to listen. Wait for the words and ideas to fill the space where you are.

Listen for a rhythm. Thoughts will start occuring. Listen until they do. When they do, the words come on their own. Those words will sneak past your internal editor.

Think those long, deep, and wide thoughts. Then write with abandon. Now that you can see what you’re thinking, take away all of the words your readers don’t need. You’ll know when you feel the ideas lifting themselves up — they’re the ideas that you want to read over again because they say something right and well.

Notes lifting off the page from sxc.hu

Whether you’re writing a blog post, a business plan, or love letter to your worst critic, if you want your words resonate — to lift themselves off the page — give yourself the space and oxygen.

Do you think that time and space when you write make a difference in how your writing is received?

–ME “Liz” Strauss
Work with Liz!!

image: sxc.hu

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Filed under Successful Blog, Writing | 24 Comments »

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24 Comments to “How to Write Ideas that Lift Themselves Off the Page — Every Time!”

  1. July 22nd, 2008 at 8:16 am
    Vicky H said

    As a natural pessimist (changing my thinking, slowly but surely) I see the value in what your saying and can extend it even for myself.

    “Self conscious and selfish ideas need small spaces to thrive. Stressed and cranky tones and sloppy logical fall away when we give ourselves room to think. Our minds can’t hold fear and think long and deep and wide at the same time.”

    When I write, many times I need to really languish in my thoughts, getting passed my own pessimistic thoughts to ‘really think’ about a topic.

    Luckily, I am a natural deep thinker so when I allow myself that extra time, turn off my tunnel vision, I see the error of my ways and move forward.

    Great friends also help :-)

  2. July 22nd, 2008 at 8:18 am
    Meryl333 said

    It is the space between the notes that give music it’s rhythm, grace & beauty.

  3. July 22nd, 2008 at 8:21 am
    Mark Salinas said

    I enjoy to write yet I spend far to much time over analyzing my delivery etc. Is my message spending to much on I instead of we? Am I offensive to one side vs. another? How is my punctuation? Am I using then/than properly? How about affect and effect? The silly things that a good writer doesn’t have to look twice at. Thanks!

  4. July 22nd, 2008 at 8:50 am
    ME Liz Strauss said

    Hi Vicky!
    It’s amazing how clear things become when we take time to think about them. The critic stands back long enough for us to weigh the information from a variety of views.

  5. July 22nd, 2008 at 8:51 am
    ME Liz Strauss said

    Ah, Meryl!
    I agree. Beauty, dignity, and grace are in what we trust enough to leave out.

  6. July 22nd, 2008 at 8:52 am
    ME Liz Strauss said

    Hi Mark,
    If your idea is faulty, it doesn’t matter that every comma is in the right place. :)

  7. July 22nd, 2008 at 8:58 am
    Meg said

    I hear you clearly. It is so difficult to get beyond the worries and the stress sometimes to make space for the words to form.



    Maine-ly Megin

  8. July 22nd, 2008 at 9:51 am
    Robert Hruzek said

    I love your description of the inspired writing process, Liz. When you’re “there”, it’s almost like you’re taking dictation rather than actually working.

    I count myself blessed to have managed to write even ONE post like that (although I like to think there are at least more than a few). They’re easy to spot – those are the ones that sing!

  9. July 22nd, 2008 at 12:28 pm
    almostgotit said

    Enough oxygen to think and write deeply requires both freedom and confidence; enough wisdom to edit deeply requires humility and discipline. Most of us are neglecting one or the other.

    I think that most books and blogs and teachers of writing spend too much time teaching us to prune our writing, and not enough on how to water and encourage it. So thanks for providing a little balance!

  10. July 22nd, 2008 at 2:52 pm
    elaineb said

    I agree with that giving yourself some room to work is the best way to be creative.

  11. July 22nd, 2008 at 3:32 pm
    Jeanne Dininni said

    Definitely, Liz!

    Sometimes, when I write, I’ll just sit there staring off into space while the minutes or hours tick by, silently analyzing, visualizing, and studying the concept — or feeling the emotion — I’m hoping to convey…turning it over and over in my mind…looking at it from every angle, as I attempt to find just the right words to express it.

    Having the freedom to approach our work in this way adds an incredible new dimension to our writing — a certain depth that can be achieved in no other way. For anyone who’s never tried it, I highly recommend it! Whenever I’m able to find the time to add this important component to my work, I find my writing particularly rewarding — and I truly believe it resonates more strongly with my readers.

    Thanks for another insightful post! I just love your phrase “long, deep thoughts,” because it captures precisely what they are!


  12. July 22nd, 2008 at 5:14 pm
    ME Liz Strauss said

    Yep, Meg,
    Sometimes, I have to make a concerted effort to get my mind to relax into open thinking spaces, but it’s more than worth it. :)

  13. July 22nd, 2008 at 5:15 pm
    ME Liz Strauss said

    Hi Robert,
    They do seem to sing themselves onto the page, don’t they? The ones with long, deep thoughts behind them are the ones I go back to again and again and never want to change. :)

  14. July 22nd, 2008 at 5:17 pm
    ME Liz Strauss said

    Hi almostgotit!
    I know! Structure and expression need to share the stage. To handle the two, we need to bring more than than our head to the process. :)

  15. July 22nd, 2008 at 5:18 pm
    ME Liz Strauss said

    Thanks, Elaine!
    Yeah, creativity needs space to breathe.

  16. July 22nd, 2008 at 5:20 pm
    ME Liz Strauss said

    Hi Jeanne,
    It’s luxurious to sit back even without a thought waiting for something that matters to show itself as worth writing about. I smile to think of how good it feels.

    I sure know what you mean. :)

  17. July 22nd, 2008 at 9:52 pm
    Cath Lawson said

    Hi Liz – Time and space are definitely important to me – and also lack of noise and interruptions, which happens a lot in the school holidays.

  18. July 22nd, 2008 at 10:40 pm
    Barbara Swafford said

    Hi Liz,

    I love to write when it’s quiet. No music. No interruptions. But, I also have to be rested. If I’m tired or anxious, I have to put writing off until later.

    When the words do start flowing, I type until they stop. Often I’ll have a long page from which I can extract several blog posts.

    I love when that happens.

  19. July 23rd, 2008 at 2:09 am
    Maria Palma said

    Hi Liz!

    It’s only recently that I’ve learned to shut off that inner editor that sneaks up on me and tells me that what I’m writing isn’t good enough.

    I find that meditation “expands” my mind and puts me in a more relaxed state of consciousness so that the words flow more easily.

    Thanks so much for an inspiring post 😉

  20. July 23rd, 2008 at 8:44 am
    ME Liz Strauss said

    Hi Cath,
    For periods when time and space are hard to capture, I have giant headphones to signal when my time is my own. :)

  21. July 23rd, 2008 at 8:45 am
    ME Liz Strauss said

    Hi Barbara!
    That’s a great technique. Those long deep writes are fun for me too! They feel so productive.

    Most folks don’t realize that a long piece really should be broken up for a blog.

  22. July 23rd, 2008 at 8:46 am
    ME Liz Strauss said

    Hi Maria!
    How nice to see you! Mediation, reflection, contemplation, anything that sets in a more connected way of thinking is helpful to writing. :)

    Good on you for turning your internal editor off. :)

  23. July 29th, 2008 at 4:23 am
    Mary@WritetoDone said

    Oh dear – so many cars coming my way: I must be driving on the wrong side of the motorway!

    Long spacious thoughts: no! Emphatically, no!

    I’ve changed all that this week. I’ve bought some Getting Things Done planning software and am, well…getting things done. I feel calm and eminently productive… although quaking a little in my overlarge shoes which I am trying to fill in my new job as a Chief Editor.

    This week I’m into short, sharp thoughts that dart about, frisk, and skip. They are a bit meagre but I’m feeding them up.

    I’m done with thinking large. I’m syncing my calendars instead.

  24. July 29th, 2008 at 7:50 am
    ME Liz Strauss said

    Hi Mary!
    Good luck getting those thoughts to behave!! :)

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