5 Ways to Jumpstart Creative Thinking

Excellent tips here on on firing up your creativity.

Bob Mayer

I’m in the midst of final tweaks on a book; the tweaks are based on beta read feedback and my wife’s; which is, of course, always right.

For the past couple of days I’ve been struggling to resolve some plot issues that were raised, but really, this isn’t any different from any job where a person has to resolve problems creatively. I remember that some operations orders for various missions required innovative thinking. One direct action target my A-Team was assigned required a lot of “thinking outside the box” a term I don’t like, because THERE IS NO BOX. So that’s the first of the 5 ways:

  1. There is no box. If you think you are constrained by rules, by precedent, by your capabilities, you’ve already failed. You can aim high and miss, or you can shoot low and hit, but the high miss is better than the low…

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MS Word, A Primer for Indie Writers: Part III: Punctuation and Special Characters

Many thanks, JW, for part three of your Word tutorial.

QA Productions

The best evidence that MS Word is not the best tool for fiction writers is in the way it handles punctuation and special characters. The program was created for office writing, and the documents it creates are meant to be printed on site in order to find homes in filing cabinets. Many features that make it terrific for an office can cause major problems for indie writer/publishers.

My Number One Recommendation: Turn It Off

Auto Correct is a boon for office drones, but it’s an annoyance (at best) and dangerous (at worse) for fiction writers. Find it under File>Options>Proofing.

Word_Styles_12Enable or Disable features as you see fit.

Click on the Auto Correct Options button and this comes up:

Word_Styles_13When I’m composing, the only auto-formatting I allow in Word is curly/smart quotes instead of straight quotes. Anything else means I’m going to end up fighting with Word and that pisses off…

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MS Word, A Primer for Indie Writers: Part II: Scene Breaks, Page Breaks and Sections

Continuing the tutorial on Word, by J. W. Manus.

QA Productions

From a production point of view, white space in a Word doc can be a problem. It can confuse you or your hired formatter. It can cause goofs in your ebooks, not to mention making extra work for yourself.

I have some simple solutions for you.


Did you mean to hit Enter twice, or is that a scene break? How much time do you spend centering or using the space bar to align asterisks? How often do you forget to add the asterisks, or sometimes use one and other times five? How hard do you make it on yourself (or others) to find scene breaks when your book is in production?

Make it easy. I use a double pound sign (hashtags, for you young’uns).

Word_Styles_4Type them in and drive on. The double pound signs are unique (be very rare to find them within the text) and thus, searchable…

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MS Word, A Primer for Indie Writers: Part I: Styles

Having trouble getting your head around Word? Here’s a great tutorial from J.W. Manus, why not follow his series of posts on the subject.

QA Productions

Let us ponder MS Word. It’s ubiquitous. Until recently, just about every PC came pre-loaded with it. Writers use it because it’s there. In the course of cleaning thousands of documents generated in Word, I’ve come to the conclusion that the vast majority of writers have zero idea about how to actually use the program. This is not a slam. Up until I began formatting ebooks, I had no idea how it worked either. I typed my stories and my printer puked out the pages, and that was that. Back in those days, it didn’t matter much. I had a standard manuscript format to follow, one my editors demanded, and once the manuscript was in my publisher’s hands, it was completely out of mine.

What I never thought about, and you probably don’t either, is that MS Word has evolved from a word processor into a quasi-publishing program. Its purpose…

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10 Inspirational videos to help authors

Great links to inspire a writer.

Author Ash Stone

If you need some helpful advise or just wise words to inspire you, I have some great news that will make you do a little jig!


Here are 10 of the best Authors to inspire and entertain you!

  1. Isaac Asimov on the Golden Age of Science Fiction: Listen as one of the most well-known science fiction authors discusses the peak of science fiction writing.
  2. Will Self: Take a look at this video to hear a talk by English author Will Self delivered at Google.
  3. Interview with Philip Roth: This American Pulitzer Prize-winning author talks about writing and his work in this video.
  4. Sherman Alexie: See where author, poet and comedian Sherman Alexie finds his inspiration for his work here.
  5. Gore Vidal on writing: Gore Vidal is an American author, playwright, essayist, screenwriter and political activist perhaps best known for his work The City and the…

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