A few links for the end of the week

How to mine Twitter for writing ideas

ideas Ideas. As I’ve said on numerous occasions, they’re the lifeblood of every writer. No matter how good you are at coming up with ideas, there will be times when the well is dry. You can’t, for the life of you, form a good idea for a blog post, an article, or an essay.

Why not turn to Twitter for inspiration? You can find the spark for a writing idea there.

The problem is, as someone said, Twitter’s like a fire hose. You don’t need to absorb every drop coming out of that fire hose. You just need certain drops. Let’s look at two ways to use Twitter for story ideas.


Let it lie

A woman editing a manuscript No matter what you’re writing, it generally doesn’t come out the way you want it to on your first draft. If it does, you’re either really lucky or just that damn good. If it’s the latter, you don’t need to be reading my posts …

In the heat and focus of the first draft, a certain amount of polish is always missing. In that heat and focus, it’s easy to overlook some of the shortcomings of what you’ve written. But there is one way to get around that.

Let your writing lie.

What do I mean by that? Put what you’ve written aside. Don’t think about it. Don’t stress about it. Get some distance from what you’ve written.

Put your manuscript aside for at least an hour. Longer is better. If you can, don’t look at it until the next day. That’s not always possible, especially if you’re on a deadline.

Letting your writing lie, as I mentioned a couple of paragraphs ago, gives you some distance from your work. Your brain will be clearer. You’ll be able to see the flaws in what you’re writing. You won’t see a jumble of words that you’ve just written.

Once you’ve gone back to your work after letting it lie for a few hours (or more), look at it was a critical eye. Read it slowly a couple of times. Read it aloud. Then, take your editing pen — whether real or virtual — to what you’ve written.

When you’re done editing, read it again both silently and out loud. Then, do another editing pass. Once you’re done that, your manuscript should be in pretty good shape.

Thoughts? As always, your comments are welcome.

(A quick plug: If you haven’t already, think about subscribing to my bi-weekly email newsletter. It’s free and I won’t use your information to spam you. Promise!)

A few links for the end of the week

The good things come in 7s edition:

Going from EPUB to Kindle

Photo of a Kindle e-reader If you write ebooks, you probably want to get them into the widest number of hands possible. That means either selling your books at Amazon.com or making them available in a form that readers can load on to their Kindle e-readers.

Just to be different, Amazon uses its own ebook format. That format has the extension .mobi. Off the top of my head, I only think of one or two ebook authoring tools that generate .mobi files (in addition to other ebook formats).

Many ebook authors first publish their books as EPUB files, then convert them to .mobi. Let’s look at a few tools which help you do that.


How do you know what you should write?

A restless writer As you may or may not know, over the last few months I’ve been informally coaching a handful of writers. They’ve ranged from professionals to people just starting out in their writing careers. It’s been an interesting and useful experience, for me and for them.

Recently, one of the people I’m working with asked me How do I know what I should write? By that, he meant what style or niche he should focus on. Like many writers taking their first steps, he’s feeling the tug in several directions.

A few years ago, I wrote a post in this space about four questions that can help focus your writing career. But the question that I was asked made me expand on the ideas in that post.

The advice I gave that writer revolves around (surprise, surprise!) four new questions.


A few links for the end of the week

Taking a look at a pair of Markdown editors for the Mac

The Markdown mark I make no bones about being a Linux user. I’m not a techie, yet Linux works for me. That said, some people make the mistake of believing that I haven’t used or been exposed to other operating systems. I have. Probably more than they have.

After moving to the bottom of the world three years ago, I had to take the dreaded day job. At one of the places where I worked, I and a majority of my colleagues were using MacBooks to do our work. While I prefer Mac OS to Windows, I didn’t see what all the fuss about MacBooks is. They’ve got nothing I haven’t seen before.

I have to admit, though, that there was some software for the MacBook that I found very useful. That included a couple of Markdown editors called Mou and MacDown.

Let’s take a quick look at them.