Many of us tune into a specific playlist when we write. This soundtrack helps the mind weave words into meaningful clusters of thought. For some writers, it’s a classical selection of Mozart, Beethoven, or Bach. Others lean into soothing lo-fi and jazz.
Me? I blasted J. Cole on my headphones as I wrote my master’s thesis.
Hip-hop has been in my ear since the sixth grade, back when Nelly was topping the charts and Baby Keem was a toddler. I blame Eminem for starting it all: “Lose Yourself” was a morning routine along with breakfast and academic lethargy. When I got to college, I had T.I. telling me to live my life and Drake hooking me on “Forever.” (My high school hip hop presence was John Cena. Don’t ask.)
Now, I’m a grizzled professional still listening to rhymes and beats. After all these years as an ardent rap fan, I realize that this genre is not just background music to me. Far from being banal Spotify stimuli, the art of rap directly influences another one of my passions: writing.
So now, I’m putting together a mixtape of advice for my fellow writers. In this piece, I’ll be breaking down how rap music can revitalize your writing. Whether your affinity for rap is limited to Ludacris’ verse on “Baby,” or you’re a true aficionado waiting for Dr. Dre to drop “Detox,” you can find rhyme and reason in these writing tips. At their core, rappers are writers themselves, so we can learn a thing or two about what they do, ya dig?
So now … like the late, great Big L, let me put it on.Continue reading
You’ve probably heard someone somewhere claim that writing is a muscle; if you don’t exercise it, it’ll shrivel up and atrophy. But that’s not entirely true. Writing isn’t a single muscle. It’s more like a muscular system, made up of a great many parts, each of which need their own kind of exercise.
That’s why—just like athletes—we reach plateaus in our writing journey. Sometimes pushing past that plateau means changing our strategy a bit. Other times we need to try something completely new.
In this post, you’ll find 22 tips that’ll help guide you towards becoming a better writer. They cover reading, building better writing habits, and improving the technical aspects of your writing.Continue reading
A jester with a hammer, a sponge fry cook, a boy trying to catch ’em all. There are details about characters that transcend names and faces, certain things that just can’t help but stick out in your mind when you hear a name or a franchise.
Thinking about your favorite movie or TV show, what part really drew you to it? What makes you watch it over and over? Elements such as music, camera angles, casting choices, even catchy trailers are a good start to draw attention to a show. But what really keeps you coming back episode after episode?
Even musicals need more than a soundtrack to hold attention, and the captivating landscapes can only take you so far. People really remember stories for the plot and dialogue, or that twist at the end that gets you every time.
All in all, the real selling point of media is their characters. But what’s the difference between a lackluster impersonation and the iconic killer robot that pops into your head when you hear those words?
The simple answer is depth. That is, really spending time to develop more than just a name and goal for the main movers of your story. Be it a written story, a movie in production, or even just a tabletop game you’re playing with some friend; you don’t need a big budget to add memorable elements to any character you create. In fact, if you watch any TV at all, you’ve already got a pretty good head start.
So, if you feel like you’re struggling with giving your two-dimensional characters those three-dimensional elements, hold my hand; we’re going on this journey together.Continue reading
New Year’s resolution: Get back to writing every day and finish some of those pieces that have been languishing in the proverbial desk drawer. It’s time to bring back that writing mojo.
You’ve hit a wall, you say? Well, let’s bust right through that wall, shall we?
Writing isn’t just an activity for us; it’s a core part of who we are. Can you write for fun? Absolutely. But I have a feeling that writing is more than that for you, much the same way playing guitar for Keith Richards isn’t just about doodling around on the weekends.
That’s why when we get that block, it’s beyond frustrating. Everything comes to a grinding halt. It’s like running in quicksand.
I’m a sports fan: baseball in particular. So when one of my favorite players goes into a slump, it can be excruciating to watch. For the player himself, it’s oh so much more agonizing. Every player goes into a slump at some point, and every player eventually comes out of that slump. When they do, they typically go on an exhilarating rampage that leaves the opponent quaking in their boots.
For 2022, let’s get our writing on an exhilarating rampage. The kind that leaves readers salivating for more.
In this piece, I’m going to share five ways I jump-start my motivation and inspiration for writing. If you’d like, go ahead and play Start Me Up by The Rolling Stones while you do it.
Let’s get started.Continue reading