Showing posts with label ideas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ideas. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Income Tax ( #AtoZChallenge )

  Imagination is a limitless resource, but it should be used wisely.   But the most important thing is to use it...

      Income tax might be on the minds of at least some of those in the United States.  Our taxes are due in a few days.  Fortunately I got mine done last month so now I can focus on the April Challenge.  If you are still scrambling to finish taxes as well as keep up with your A to Z posts then I'm sorry to hear that.  You've really got a big challenge on your hands.

        Other than the taxes being soon due, my mentioning of income tax is also a reminder about blogging ideas.  I've often read bloggers saying that they are running out of ideas for their regular blogging let alone coming up with an idea that is bloggably sustainable for an entire month.  If you want to be a blogger then you're going to be a writer and as a writer you've got to have ideas and imagination.

          So let's say next year you decide to write about "income tax."  What can you write about?  History of the tax. pro and cons of taxation, how-to hints about tax preparation, or where tax dollars go are some suggestions.   You could write fictional stories related to income tax--a lot of intriguing ideas for that!

         Don't get hung up on trying to come up with ideas.  Look around you.  There are stories within every field of your vision and the limitless expanse of your imagination.  Don't think you're going to throw in the towel for this year's Challenge for any lack of ideas about what to write next.  That's the point of the A to Z Challenge--to tax your mind.  No ideas is no excuse.

          Now start writing your next posts whether they be for tomorrow, next week, or next year.  It's tax season.  Time to tax your brain!

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   Have you ever felt like you were out of ideas?   Where do you go to find new ideas to write about?  When your creativity wanes how do you recharge it?

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Monday, October 19, 2015

Cleaning the Garage from A to Z

English: A handyman project was to de-clutter ...
 A handyman project was to de-clutter a basement which tends to get filled with things when it's not certain whether to throw or keep them. When a basement becomes too cluttered, it's hard to find things that are really needed. One way is to move clutter to a second location where it can be sorted into two piles (1) trash (2) items to keep. Source of picture: here (see public domain declaration). Questions: write to my Wikipedia page or email me at (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

       A frequent theme of posts on this Blogging from A to Z Challenge site involves ideas for the April Challenge.   It's a natural topic here!   How often do many of us wonder what we will be writing about come April Challenge time?    Often I read exasperated laments from bloggers who don't know if they can even participate in A to Z because they don't know what to write about.  To alleviate some of those feelings of doubt and fear, let me offer another of the infinite ideas that might spark some creativity in your mind.

        Instead of staring at the computer screen as your mind jumbles up with this idea and that, why not take a break from blogging for an hour or two or maybe even a whole day.   Get up out of your chair and go clean your garage.   Now, you might substitute "garage" with closet, drawers, car, or what have you, but the essence of this idea is to go take care of some accumulated clutter and get organized.

         When I think of organizing one image that comes to my mind is filing papers in an orderly fashion which typically entails separating items into easy to find A to Z fashion.   Using a cluttered garage as an example, you can even take filing to a larger scale organizing everything in your garage in some logical fashion.  Alphabetically might not be the most practical way to organize a garage, but it could be something to think about.   The point here is to clean up and organize.  Get some house work done!

         And once you've started diving into that amalgam of messiness (unless you are more fastidious than many of us) start thinking in A to Z terms.   Your garage might have anything from Ajax to Zap cleaner, old adding machines to non-functioning Zenith television sets, or accordions to zithers.  I think you're getting the idea.

        Your house is a wealth of A to Z inspiration and sometimes digging through the artifacts of what we amass over the years can stir up all sorts of thinking.  Take a look at ten or twenty items that you immediately see around you and consider what each item conjures in your mind.

         Can you remember when you first obtained that item or when you used it?   How did the items affect your life?   Why did they end up where they did in a state of disuse?   How useful were the items then as opposed to now?   Would you recommend these things to anyone else?  If you were going to give the item to another person who would it be and why?

          One cluttered closet could be the inspiration for numerous books, stories, or articles to an extremely imaginative person so it stands to reason that this same closet might be excellent inspiration for the 26 posts of April A to Z.

          Fiction, memoir, how-to's, photo essays, humor--there is no limit to what your clean-up jobs can inspire.  There's no good reason for anyone to come up with the excuse that they don't know what to write about for A to Z.   Your posts in April don't have to be exotic or even something absolutely unique.  Good content is always desirable, but excellence in writing can outweigh the most original ideas that are written about tritely or dryly.

         Maybe give it a try.  Start a household chore with A to Z in mind.   Even if you don't come up with an A to Z idea this time around, you can try again later.   And if the A to Z idea doesn't come from your efforts then you've still ended up with a positive accomplishment--you'll have a cleaner more organized house.   Not much of a downside to that!

         Have any of your A to Z themes been about common items around your house?    What are some great discoveries that you've come upon while cleaning house?    Are there any A to Z themes that come to your mind in regard to this post?

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

How Do You Find Your Ideas?

How do you find your ideas? Authors are often asked this question in interviews. Or perhaps; Do you have trouble finding ideas to write about? My problem is the opposite. I have too many ideas. What I’ve found is that having an idea and getting the idea down in words that actually say what I imagine they should, is a totally different pot o’ honey. Does that metaphor work? I also don’t have enough time to actually write a different story for every idea that I have.

That said I’ve found that using more than one idea in a story can add not only a new dimension to it, but adding two, three or sometimes four different ideas can make the original idea much more profound, intricate, and beguiling to the reader.  Kind of like a photographer taking a shot with one type of lens and then finding that if a wider (or narrower) angle is used the whole view of the photo, the whole concept and direction of the photograph is changed, broadened and the focus encompasses more than the photographer originally dreamed of. Or a painter who finds a new color that brings a startling new life to his painting, a life not previously glimpsed, an ambiance not previously hoped for but now heartily embraced and enhanced. Or what about a musician who finally plays a note in a sequence he's never used before and falls into a piece of music the world must hear?

Do you use more than one idea in a story, different lenses on the same scene, more than one new color on your canvas? Do you mix and match, push your mind outside of your “normal” range to see what creation you are capable of producing? Because to me, finding the “newness” in ones “old” methods is what makes creating so beautiful and satisfying, even if it doesn’t always work the way we think it should.   

Images from:

Monday, August 4, 2014

Here's An Idea!: The Shopping List (#atozchallenge)

Found shopping list
Found shopping list (Photo credit: vidalia_11)
      In my June offering of Here's An Idea! I discussed the A to Z theme of using lists of favorites in the April Challenge.    Another blogger offered a tongue in cheek idea that actually sounds kind of like an interesting concept.   Here's what she had to say in her comment to my post:

Of course I am unsure of what to write many times.
I do like going through lists but don't make any except shopping lists.
But after the challenge I have started appreciating lists. Might even do a few.

       Sometimes what seems like an almost silly comment or just a passing thought can turn into a darn good idea.  I like this one!   Why not use a shopping list as a prompt for the A to Z Challenge?

        There are tons of possibilities with this idea.  You can start with a shopping list and apply your daily letters to anything from recipes to food histories.  Get creative with your presentation in the shopping list format and then run wild with it.

       You don't have to limit this idea to food either.  You can make up Christmas lists, Back to School shopping lists, or any other list that has to do with shopping themes.

        Our readers come up with the neatest ideas that really get my brain gears cranking.  How about you?  Do you read through the comments of the posts to see what other readers have to offer?   Let us know your ideas as well.   I'm sure there are some "list" ideas that you can think of.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Here's an Idea!: Playing Favorites (#atozchallenge)

Blog Machine
Blog Machine (Photo credit: digitalrob70)

Not Sure What to Blog About?

          One of the more common reasons bloggers offer for not participating in the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge is, "I don't know what to write about."   In fact that's a common complaint I hear about blogging period.  Personally I find that to be a rather curious excuse when topics to blog about are all around us.    Furthermore, if you have a theme in mind then the prompts for daily blogging can come even more easily if you let them flow.

        With this post I begin a series which I'm calling Here's An Idea!   I'll be offering some good suggestions that you might want to consider for the 2015 Challenge.  If my ideas don't quite work for you then maybe my brainstorming might start sparking some other ideas in your own mind.  Let's come up with some month long blogging themes!

People Love Lists

      One thematic approach that I've seen used in past Challenges is a series of lists from A to Z.  Lists can be favorites, worst, best, funniest, or most existential--or you name it.  Possibilities are endless when picking the approach you can take with this idea.

      Once you've decided on a general theme you can start the lists for each letter.  If you start now you can keep adding to your list over the next several months leading up to next April.  You can make the list as long or short as you like and expound upon it as much as you like.

        Coming up with a list is fun and usually easy.  When you get stumped you can always hit a search engine for other similar lists or ideas to inspire you.   Starting early will give you plenty of opportunity to go back to add new items to your list.

       An advantage to using lists on blog posts is that you can engage your audience more easily and stimulate their minds to interact with you.   Everyone has their own opinions about what should be on a list.  You can have fun creating yours and get the audience involved thinking about what would be on their own list.  The list offers a great opportunity to ask questions that lead to comments and blog post sharing on social networking sites.

         I used the list approach on my own blog Tossing It Out in 2013 when I offered examples of movies in various genres or with certain thematic ideas.  For example, A for Auto Accidents in film, V for Venice in film, and Z for movies about Zoos.    I had a great time coming up my lists and my readers seemed to be entertained as well.

         Think for a few minutes about the list concept for April and I'll bet your mind will run rampant with great ideas.   In fact you might want to start compiling your lists right now!

Focus on Favorites

         Rather than a list you might want to focus on favorites.   This can be anything, but it will work best when you are considering things about which you are passionate.  Excellent fields of examination are favorite films, books, songs, places, or foods.  Others have done these sorts of posts in past Challenges as well as in everyday blogging, but there's always room for your point of view.

          And when you're dealing with favorites no one can say you're wrong.   You can invite some debate if you like to get readers involved in discussion.  Or you can ask your readers about their own favorites.  Most people enjoy weighing in on a topic such as this if you've presented it the right way.

          At my blog Tossing It Out I'm currently doing a series about preferences and why people like what they like.  In this series I'm talking about some of my favorites or what might be considered "the best".  What I'm doing in my current series could easily be expanded into a month long A to Z theme.   Who knows?  Maybe I will go with this as a theme!   No reason why you couldn't do something similar as well.

          Most of us like to tell others about discoveries that grab our attention and things that we like.  This is a fun and easy topic that adapts itself so well to Blogging from A to Z.   Take a minute and give this some thought:   What are your favorite (fill in your own topic) and then start listing them.   You'll probably start coming up with so many that you could fill Aprils for years to come.

          Please take a look at my current series to see what you could do with something like this.   While you're there don't forget to answer my questions and leave your answers in the comment section.   The first post of the series is The Greatest Story Ever Written? and I'm still looking for opinions on this.  I hope you'll weigh in with your own.   Other posts in my series are about "Favorite Types of Music" and "Favorite Movie"(coming on Wednesday June 4th).   You can find and follow this series at Tossing It Out.

         Some brainstorming now might even help you with your everyday blogging if you are one of those who gets stumped for ideas at times.   The ideas are out there and they're easy to find.  Just start making a list!

         Do you ever find yourself unsure what to write about on your blog?    Do you enjoy reading through lists?    What kinds of lists have you used on your own blog?

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Friday, December 28, 2012

Answers to the Alphabet

These Blogging from A to Z subjects are brought to you by Nicole at The Madlab Post...

Today marks the day that the Alphabet Soup series is going on a hiatus, so I am offering up the following prompts that can be used as themes or topics during the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. It is my hope that these blog post subject ideas will help get those of you experiencing some writer’s block through the entire alphabet with little to no fuss.

Adolescent Art - Scan or photograph one of your favorite (or least favorite) pieces of artwork that you made during your childhood years. This can be a sculpture, collage, painting, drawing, sketch or some other type of art that you made in school, church, at summer camp, etc. you get the picture.

Bake or Broil - Compare different foods that you think are better when prepared one way compared to the other. Does fish come out better when broiled? Is chicken more moist when baked? Do an experiment or share with readers a point of view based on your previous cooking and/or tasting experiences.

Censorship Commentary - Answer the question: Does censorship make you feel like you’re being shortchanged in the context of your ability to enjoy and/or absorb a television show, movie or song that you know has been edited for broadcast purposes?

Doomsday -  If the world was ending at the end of April 2013, how would you spend your time between now and then?

Embarrassment - Describe an embarrassing experience that you once had that would not embarrass you if it occurred today.

Fortune vs. Forbes - Read the current issues of both magazines and write a review on them, focusing on which one you would be more likely to want to read again and why.

Goodwill - Mention an act of goodwill that you received from another person within the last year; Or, mention an act of goodwill that you provided to someone else within the last year.

Hugh Hefner - Identify some things that one group of people (bloggers, parents, business owners, celebrities, seniors, etc.) can learn from the Playboy tycoon. Your post can be comical or serious or inspirational or whatever.

Illuminati - Describe the most absurd “discovery” that you read or hear from someone regarding the activities of this secret group.

Jumping Jacks - Conduct an exercise experiment by timing yourself doing 100 jumping jacks every day for one week and blog about your findings including how long it took you to do them, if you had to stop to take a break and how you felt before and after doing them. Did the exercise make you tired or did it boost your energy?

Killing with Kindness - Share your experiences with the “Kill them with Kindness” saying, focusing on whether or not you think it works in all circumstances; sharing tips, if any, that you may have for others who find it difficult to practice this in their lives.

Lapsed Laws - Blog about a particular law that you think is too old to be still on the books.

Muses - Do you have a muse? If so, what is it? If not, do you think there are benefits to having one or does it really matter?

Neverland - If you could build your own version of Neverland Ranch, what would it contain?

Offensive Oppositions - Blog about a gesture or behavior, etc. that usually offends most people, except you.

Prince and Princesses - Highlight a real-life prince or princess that is little known among the masses.

Qdoba - Compare the quality of two different restaurant locations that you visited, paying attention to customer service, state of the food (did it seem stale, was it hot, etc.) and atmosphere.

Rich Reflections - Define what makes your life rich.

Satirical Secrets to (Fill in the Blank) - List humorous “secrets” to parenting, completing the A to Z Challenge, finding the best parking spot, preventing wrinkles in clothes, aging well or whatever topic you are interested in poking fun at.

Timeless Toys - Highlight a few toys that you believe will never go out of style.

Utterly Unattractive - List some unattractive traits that you find in the opposite sex or in the general population.

Victory - Blog about a time in your life when you felt most accomplished and what it took for you to get there.

Mr. Winkle - Do you think this is a real dog or a marketing ploy? If the former applies, what do you think Mr. Winkle is mixed with? Do you think mixed breeds are a blessing or a curse? Does the Mr. Winkle phenomenon beneficial to the importance of bringing more awareness to animal welfare and animal shelters or does it exploit our western culture’s obsession with stardom, fandom and materialism?

X Games - Blog about a high profile X Games participant or some X Games controversy that might be of interest to sports fanatics.

Yokozuna - Offer some background information on the significance of this particular wrestling rank; Or, just highlight the name of the WWF guy who had this name. Your choice.

Zipcar - If you’ve used this car sharing service, blog about your experiences; If this does not apply, then compare the service to car pooling, focusing on which one you think would be more useful.

Have a Good Friday, Everybody!

Also @MadlabPost on Twitter

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Guest Poster: Li Vooght ~ Great Ideas for A-Z 2013

Please join me in welcoming Li Vogt, two-time challenge participant, who works in the field of special education, adores history and science (especially
the weird and the gross), and admits to being a terrible procrastinator. She also does a little folk art painting in her spare time. While she'd like to publish a collection of flash fiction at some point, right now she's concentrating on honing her writing skills and getting individual pieces published. She's got some great ideas to get our creativity flowing for April 2013. 

Hi A to Z ers! 2012 was my second year of the challenge, and I had a great time both years. I met a ton
of people, and found some really great blogs to follow. The A to Z community is a warm and welcoming place to be throughout the year.

Since it's never too early to start thinking about the next one, here is my A to Z list of possible topics and resources to get your creative juices flowing.

A. Almanacs have lots of cool trivia and stats to give you ideas.

B. Beneficence. Highlight charitable organizations throughout the world.

C. Cliches. Love 'em, hate 'em, explain their origins.

D. Dictionary. As writers/bloggers, we can all benefit from an expanded vocabulary.

E. Eating. We all do it. Feature exotic foods, cool restaurants, worst cooking disasters.

F. Fiction. If you've always wanted to try your hand at short stories, the A to Z is a friendly environment
to give it a whirl.

G. Guinness Book Of World Records. Lots of people/events you could feature.

H. Home improvement. Any DIY whizzes out there? Give us a few pointers/projects.

I. Inventions. From the practical to the wacky, there are plenty. Or, make up your own!

J. Jokes. We can all use a laugh.

K. Kings, real or fantasy.

L. Languages. Feature a word each day in a particular language – or several!

M. Movies are a popular topic. Suggest alternate casts/endings, or dig up little known trivia.

N. News. My local newspaper generally has at least one odd/weird/interesting tidbit each day.
(Drunk Bicyclist Arrested After Hitting Police Cruiser!)

O. Origins – of words, folktales, customs, etc.

P. Prompts. There are several sites which feature writing prompts on a daily basis.

Q. Quotes. I thought that it was a lame idea, and yet I am still getting plenty of hits on that post.

R. Rare anything – elements, animals, plants, diseases.

S. Superheroes

T. Torture through the ages, for those with a slightly macabre bent.

U. UFOs or unexplained/paranormal phenomena.

V. Vintage. Choose a particular time period in the past and write about clothing, customs, everyday life.

W. Weather, wars, wines,'s a fun letter.

X. Xerox this list if you want, but for x ideas you're on your own.

Y. Yiddish words, expressions, and terminology.

Z. Zombies. Of course. Give us an A to Z prep list in case of attack.

Right now, I'm planning on writing flash fiction again for the 2013 challenge, but in creating this list I generated two ideas that I might pursue instead. I hope you find some inspiration here as well! 

See you at the 2013 A to Z Challenge...

Li @ I Write At Flash Fiction

P.S.  I of course find her "L" idea the best.  Ahem...probably because that's what I did last year.  (Shameless self-promotion...sorry.)