How to Become a Better Writer:

11 Completely Non-Writing-Related Ideas

1. Be creative any way you can. Cook new recipes. Paint a picture. Design a garden. Compose a song. Build something with Legos. Organize the garage.

2. Pay attention. Observe the mannerisms of people around you. Listen to how they speak. Marvel at the way they’re dressed. Notice their shoes and their posture and the look in their eye.

3. Be an armchair shrink. Analyze people’s behavior. Ask yourself how their actions reveal their character. Wonder about their motivations. Scrutinize the dynamics of relationships. Drive your spouse and kids crazy.

4. Live life with passion. Do the things on your bucket list. Stretch beyond your comfort zone. Climb a mountain. Jump out of a plane. Serve soup at a shelter. Dine in a restaurant alone.

5. Take trips. Fly, drive or ride your bike. Dig a well in Africa or lie on a beach in San Diego or discover just how big Texas really is when you drive across it… just go.

6. Watch TV intentionally. Only the best scripted shows and only a few hours a week. Pay attention to good writing and try to figure out why it works.

7. Be a patron of the arts. Theater, dance, museums, concerts, architecture, baseball games. Enjoy beauty, excellence and precision wherever you find it.

8. Spend time everyday in mundane tasks. Do them without any music, radio or TV in the background. Wash the dishes, mow the lawn. Even your commute can be done in silence. See what you find there.

9. Pursue your interests. Have a hobby or two. Besides writing.

10. Exercise. Preferably something like jogging, walking, hiking or bicycling where you have long stretches of a repetitive activity.

11. Stay active on Twitter. Tweet things like #amwriting or #amslackingoff or #ameatingfriedtomatoesforlunch. You may not become a better writer but at least you’ll be perfecting the art of saying nothing very concisely.

Anyone want to contribute #12?

P.S. Just wanted to let everyone know that Blogger is having problems and comments are disappearing. I’m so sorry! I can’t do anything to help this. I heard it was happening to others, now it’s happening to me. If your comment doesn’t show up, be assured I’ll see it because they come directly to my email.

Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


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  9. Rhyanna on July 12, 2010 at 1:00 PM

    >I think Kathleen said it when she said, take a time look around, watch and listen. Afterall sometimes a great writer is a great listener!!!!
    That is the number one complaint heard or reported, no one really listens anymore. So turn off the tv, go for a bus ride, listen and watch. Go for a movie and watch some of the watchers, or a concert, story ideas can come to life from these and other experiences. Or how about a funny incident that occurred on the job, or at a family reunion…or during your career training. I'll give an example from my personal experience back in 1980.
    like the time I was a student LPN in St Petersburg Florida in 1980. All ten of us student nurses were in an elevator when it stopped with a violent jerk and the arm of the dead person hit a jittery nurse. She screamed in terror, and then the elevator started up. The head nursed told us no snickers. That was scary, yet even scarier was when we were in the morgue. The head nurse shouted at everyone to catch as the doors opened and the trays filled with bodies flew out at us. She later explained that it was from the fighter jets breaking mach 1 and soon they may break mach 2." A couple of the student nurses ran out screaming, that they aren't coming back, ever. Sorry we felt sorry for them, but later back in class as it was discussed we had a good laugh, then a lesson on what not to do as family, doctors, hospital administrator, somebody is always watching.
    Like I mentioned earlier. I love getting tips use the ones I like and can use, file away those that maybe helpful later.

  10. Rhyanna on July 12, 2010 at 12:54 PM

    >Hi Kathleen

    I love your blog. I hope you don't mind my mentioning you in an article that I just submitted to Query Tracker Blog.
    I get their newsletter and they are seeking guest bloggers.
    Its all good stuff that I mentioned. I can send you a copy if you like.

    I won't post on my blog until after it is accepted or turned down by Query Tracker…However, if you want to use it be my guest ๐Ÿ™‚



    Listening to current Idol winner perform on the view…he sound great with just guitar. I don't watch American Idol…get ears hurt and cringe…although I did watch the Susan Boyle Story, I Dreamed a Dream…was great watching her over 4 million records sold in two months. They presented her with a platinum record near the end of the show.

  11. Cameron Armstrong on July 12, 2010 at 12:43 PM

    >Listen to the lyrics of your favorite songs and ask yourself why these lyrics are popular? How do these lyrics affect you?

  12. Alan Yu on July 12, 2010 at 5:14 AM

    >Stare blankly at the wall once in a while – you'll be surprised what often comes from emptiness.

  13. Rhyanna on July 10, 2010 at 2:22 PM

    >As for what to do besides write, don't ignore your pets!!!! They are part of your family too, so spend time with them, just rub their tummies while watching tv, they love it, go for walks, give them treats…lol….

  14. Rhyanna on July 10, 2010 at 2:20 PM

    >HI Rachelle. THis is great. I hope you won't mind my linking to this page on my blog. I first heard of it through Query Tracker's Publishing Pulse e-letter.

    its on

    thanks for great tips, You're the best!!!!


  15. Jerry Eckert on July 10, 2010 at 12:39 PM

    >Get down on your belly outside in grass, lay our head on its side and close your higher eye. Then visualize life from a field mouse's perspective. Or set a camera on a tripod at 30 inches high and photograph life from the perspective of a 2 year old.

  16. Bangalow Accommodation on July 9, 2010 at 1:42 AM

    >Rule 15: Be positive, you'll see more detail in the light

  17. Spyl on July 9, 2010 at 1:25 AM

    >RULE 12: Study and learn about Improv.

    Learn its principles of trust, quick response, listening, resourcefulness, and anticipating failure. Great writers and icons started as improvisers

    RULE 13:

    Swim deeper about something that is non-taboo but not popular as well like Magic, Asian countries like the Philippines, or exotic foods.

    RULE 14:

    Interact with kids. Listen and observe them very well.

  18. Spyl on July 9, 2010 at 1:25 AM

    >RULE 12: Study and learn about Improv.

    Learn its principles of trust, quick response, listening, resourcefulness, and anticipating failure. Great writers and icons started as improvisers

    RULE 13:

    Swim deeper about something that is non-taboo but not popular as well like Magic, Asian countries like the Philippines, or exotic foods.

    RULE 14:

    Interact with kids. Listen and observe them very well

  19. Patti Richter on July 8, 2010 at 8:35 PM

    >Clean out a drawer, or even just an overstuffed file. It gives a great sense of accomplishment and may even turn up something useful.

  20. joe on July 8, 2010 at 9:51 AM

    >Attend an enthusiast's event which attracts fans of a subject for which you previously had little enthusiasm: a motorcycle rally or street rod convention; a quilting show or fish decoy show; an orienteering meet or Audubon Society outing.

    Observe their obsession. Interact with the fanatics. Learn what makes them tick.

  21. Beth on July 7, 2010 at 10:07 PM

    >Just so you know, I especially like building with duplos. I would add, if you don't have kids, volunteer to babysit someone else's. You'll find out about them and you at the same time. (It almost drove me over the edge when an author I read had a five-year-old character talking with stilted baby talk. Didn't the author or editor EVER spend any time with a five-year-old before?)

  22. RumorsOfGlory on July 7, 2010 at 6:31 PM

    >Wonderful topic Rachelle. Each day is a chance to learn. As a counselor I'm blessed to ask the question (like God did to Adam), "Where are you?" rather than telling people, "There you are." I'm in awe of how different people are and yet how similar.

    I try to learn something each day: I download random sermons from churches I've never visited and listen on my iPod. I download free lectures on various subjects from iTunes free university, I listen to books on tape. I read all kinds of books: books about leadership, psychology, communication, social psychology, and social media. I recently discovered a website called that has all sorts of interesting interviews with experts in their field.

    I hang out with people who are totally different from me. I attend a yoga-class-turned-book-club where every point of view is represented. I don't argue with others. I listen and try to understand what gives their life meaning.

  23. Beth Coulton on July 7, 2010 at 1:53 PM

    >Look for the extraordinary in the ordinary.

  24. Chris Catledge on July 7, 2010 at 8:50 AM

    >In the morning, sit outdoors with a cup of joe. Leave the computer in the house, no music, no spouse, no kids. Just meditate.

  25. Kathryn Magendie on July 7, 2010 at 6:07 AM

    >Have some friends who are not writers! ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. Jeannie on July 7, 2010 at 1:28 AM


    But the rest of it sounds good! ๐Ÿ˜€



  27. Neil Larkins on July 7, 2010 at 12:12 AM

    >Accept people where you find them.

  28. CFD Trade on July 6, 2010 at 11:01 PM

    >Pig out and eat everything you like for a day…then lose the pounds the next day.

  29. Messy mommy on July 6, 2010 at 10:35 PM

    >I can't be an armchair shrink–my DH already does that and already drives everybody crazy, lol. Doing anything out of your comfort zone … hmm, yes I'll have to think on that one. Interact with people. I tend to isolate myself with reading and writing.

  30. Katy Kauffman on July 6, 2010 at 9:36 PM

    >Music! Christian music on the radio or my new fav CD – WOW 2010. I just have to be careful that the words don't get in the prose. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I loved #4, and haven't tried #11, tweeting, yet. Thanks for the tips!

  31. Stephanie Shott on July 6, 2010 at 9:10 PM

    >I love the non-writing tips for writing! I opt for #5. I love missions and I need a vacation.

    Thanks for always looking for ways to make us better.

  32. Anonymous on July 6, 2010 at 8:11 PM

    >Cast your characters with specific actors/actresses in mind. Think who could play your main character and picture them acting out the scenes. If you pick the right person, you can bring that actor or actress's behavior patterns alive in your fictional character. Also, picture your scenes unfolding in high definition like on TV. You need to see, hear and feel everything about your characters and settings.

    I cast my characters all the time. I even do it when reading other novels. I want to have a clear picture of the character in my mind, how they talk, smile, everything. I guess I'm weird like that. You could even go as far as pasting a picture of your characters into your character bios on your computer. No one has to know which actor/actress you picked for the characters. Its just for you, to bring your characters and scenes alive. Have fun with it.

  33. Kathryn on July 6, 2010 at 7:05 PM

    >#12. (I got it) Let yourself be emotional. Watch sad movies, happy movies, funny movies, scary movies and let yourself feel the way you should feel. Take note of that. We're not robots!

  34. Kate on July 6, 2010 at 5:21 PM

    >Great ideas! Especially numbers 5 and 6. I recently discovered Friday Night Lights–great show, great writing!

  35. Sally Bradley on July 6, 2010 at 4:34 PM

    >So happy to see that baseball games are part of the arts! Now I can watch guilt-free! Thanks, Rachelle. ๐Ÿ™‚

  36. Shmologna on July 6, 2010 at 3:48 PM

    >So, this is a good excuse to be really nosy? I'll get my binoculars now! (Ha Ha)

    I drive, do dishes, and other mundane activities without a radio or TV. People think I'm crazy, but I can imagine situations and stories better that way. Sometimes I even talk to myself.

    Okay, I talk to myself a lot.

    ~Britt Mitchell

  37. Nancy Shohet West on July 6, 2010 at 3:24 PM

    >#12. Listen to the stories people tell you…or ask people to tell you their stories. Ask about their family vacations, their college friends, their workplace, their former neighbors.

  38. Judy on July 6, 2010 at 3:15 PM

    >Great advice – all of it works for me! Maybe somebody already offered this suggestion: read poetry, especially brief lyric poems. The shorter the better. If you spend a lot of time reading and writing longer narratives, it's so refreshing to come upon a work of art that fits compactly and musically on just one page, yet yields a rich experience. As a bonus, you might also absorb some worthy lessons on craftsmanship. I love the idea of eating ice cream with a fork – thanks!

  39. Gwen Stewart on July 6, 2010 at 3:02 PM

    >12. Live in perpetual curiosity. Never stop asking why. Never stop wondering.

  40. Captain Glenn on July 6, 2010 at 3:00 PM

    >Tell stories. Good ones, bad ones, funny ones, sad ones…just tell stories.
    I ask folks on twitter or facebook to give me one or two words, and then I tell (not write) a story around the word.

  41. KO on July 6, 2010 at 2:47 PM

    >Love this– very refreshing.

    12. sit quietly on occasion

  42. Julia M Lindsey on July 6, 2010 at 2:35 PM

    >What a great list. My favorite things to do that improve my creativity, painting a picture, gardening, and running. They all seem to get my thoughts totally clear of clutter and allow me to begin to think outside the box.

    Julia M Lindsey
    Our Little Books

  43. Marla Taviano on July 6, 2010 at 2:09 PM

    >I love #5. Headed to Cambodia TOMORROW for 10 days w/my hubby and 5 others. SO EXCITED.

    And I've driven pretty much clear across Texas. It. Never. Ends.

  44. MJR on July 6, 2010 at 1:44 PM

    >I was on vacation for a week and the motel didn't have wifi–no internet for a whole week! That helped my creativity so much…and my sanity!! (Missed this blog, of course.)

    I also recommend singing in a choir–something about that helps me so much (in addition to church choirs, there are lots of community choirs, women's choirs etc etc)…

    I also recommend travel of any kind. If you have no money for a vacation, go that historical museum in your town you've never been to. Something about seeing and experiencing new things sparks my synapses…

    Also, be sure to go and experience everything you are writing about (obviously, when possible). You'll pick up fresh and unusual details….

  45. Laurita on July 6, 2010 at 1:15 PM

    >Great list. Quiet observation is a big thing for me. You learn a lot by just watching the world around you, as mundane as it may seem.

  46. T. Anne on July 6, 2010 at 12:07 PM

    >Write down your dreams, both the ones that keep you entertained at night, and the ones you hope to achieve one day. The first is a great exercise in memory control, and the next is just good for the soul.

  47. goody on July 6, 2010 at 11:30 AM

    >Quiet Time: Imagine that you are on a plane, getting ready for takeoff, and you must turn off all electronic devices for about 5-10 minutes. You're strapped in, can't even go to the bathroom, you didn't bring a book, and SkyMall magazine in your seat pocket is missing. Close your eyes. Sit guietly and meditate or pray. What enters your mind? Focus on it intensely for several minutes. Is it worth noting?

    You are now free to move about the cabin and use approved electronic devices.

  48. Megan on July 6, 2010 at 11:26 AM

    >Find silence, somewhere… and listen.

  49. Care on July 6, 2010 at 11:15 AM

    >Eat Ice Cream with a fork…

  50. Anonymous on July 6, 2010 at 11:04 AM

    >Hobbies are great cuz they get you out of the house. I like to write in public places but am too distracted by the chatter. So fun to people-watch.

    But I don't see the benefits of Twitter at all–unless you're a celebrity. I see it as a big time-waster and distraction. How can you focus with all these lame tweets coming in all the time? I predict all this texting will lead to carpal tunnel in a few years!

  51. error7zero on July 6, 2010 at 10:58 AM

    >Dream …

  52. Cassandra Frear on July 6, 2010 at 10:58 AM

    >My sympathy about the comments. It's been happening to me, too — since last Monday. Hopefully it will be fixed, soon!

    I love this idea. I've been brainstorming on nurturing creativity all summer — because I think the creative life is so important. We have to learn to look at being creative by looking at the whole person and the quality of life. We can't sustain creativity if we don't nourish ourselves personally.

    That's why I'm starting a new summer series on this: keeping the spark alive. Good choice, Rachelle.

  53. Rachel Pudelek on July 6, 2010 at 10:55 AM

    >I agree. Especially the advice to exercise. Some of the best ideas came to me during spin class. Shoot, I need to get back into spin! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  54. Candace C. Davenport on July 6, 2010 at 10:44 AM

    >Remember, writing is a journey, not the destination! Have fun along the way.

    Great list. And they all don't have to resonate- even just one can make a difference. Will be re-tweeting your post for our writers. Thanks!

  55. Katherine Hyde on July 6, 2010 at 10:30 AM

    >12. Deal with your inner demons. If you are not honest with yourself, you can never be honest on the page. If you don't dig deeply into your own psyche, you can never dig deeply into your characters.

  56. W. Mark Whitlock on July 6, 2010 at 10:29 AM

    >12. Introduce yourself to strangers and listen to them. (airports, airplanes, restaurant lines, amusement parks, and the swimming pool). I HATE this advice, but a friend who is a NYT best-selling author believes this is the best thing you can do to improve the depth of character and dialogue.

  57. Rowenna on July 6, 2010 at 10:14 AM

    >Great pointers! I'd add on #6–watch crappily written television and poorly made B movies, too–see what makes them so gosh darn bad. I've learned so much from watching the (often hilarious) mistakes of 1950s and 60s B movies! Plus, good for a needed laugh when editing gets too hairy ๐Ÿ™‚

  58. Kathi Lipp on July 6, 2010 at 9:46 AM

    >Not trying to earn Sunday School points here, but listening to sermons is a major source of brain stirring for me. I don't MEAN to listen and get ideas, but that's how it works out every Sunday. I don't just listen to my pastor, but download a couple of others I like from iTunes.

    The other thing that gives me great inspiration are our animals. My puggle, Jake, not only forces me on walks twice a day, but my family and I spend an excessive amount of time providing Jake's inner-dialogue. We may be a weird bunch, but at our house right now we have two writers and two people who produce theater (besides having real, paid grown-up jobs) so being a bit touched in the head is a benefit.

  59. John Roundtree on July 6, 2010 at 9:43 AM

    >12: Escape from 1 through 11 and revisit that one place on earth that stirs your serene gene. Mineโ€™s a rustic beach house with sea oats swaying on a sand dune beyond an opened window. And set the imagination free — dream!

  60. Holly Ruggiero, Southpaw on July 6, 2010 at 9:30 AM

    >Those are great tips. I do most of them know. I love to go to a high traffic area and โ€œread my bookโ€. I really just watch the people. I donโ€™t twitter or is it tweet? I just donโ€™t get it.

  61. Sandy Cooper on July 6, 2010 at 9:28 AM

    >I love your ideas. I have no viable contribution, but I'm having the urge to drive across Texas.


  62. Author Sandra D. Bricker on July 6, 2010 at 9:07 AM

    >In the "watch tv intentionally" file, I suggest watching something you wouldn't normally watch. Like a reality show that other people are talking about. Observing human behavior, and especially how people look at things, can be really inspiring.

  63. A.C. Townsend on July 6, 2010 at 9:07 AM

    >12. Get involved with your community. I am a volunteer firefighter and a photographer. I recently resigned a county fire department and took a position as fire photographer for the city department, which combines the best of both worlds for me. There is tragedy, there is triumph, and there is the mundane in the middle, experiences that amaze and annoy and fuel both the adrenaline and the imagination. There is the brotherhood of firefighting, the close camaraderie with other emergency services agencies, and the mental photographs – that don't quite find their way to the camera – of people you meet once and never again.

    I also freelance, and this week I'm photographing the county fair contests and midway attractions for the Fair Board. If you'd like an opportunity to people-watch, go to your "community days" events and county fairs.

    And most of all, I agree with Writer Jim. 'Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.'

    Thanks, Rachelle. Have a beautiful day!

    ~ Angela

  64. Teenage Bride on July 6, 2010 at 9:06 AM

    >Don't stress and obsess. If you are having a bad writing day, stop, breath, take time to think. Then come back and try again.

    This was some great advice, I have gotten plenty of inspiration just by washing dishes and looking outside of my kitchen window. Great post.

  65. Roxane B. Salonen on July 6, 2010 at 9:00 AM

    >Rachelle, sounds like you've been having a fun summer and are realizing just how much LIVING contributes to WRITING. ๐Ÿ™‚ This is all so true. Writers don't live in caves, and most of them do not have a cabin out in nature where they just sit and observe and write. It is only after we've experienced life that we can tell about it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  66. Jessica Nelson on July 6, 2010 at 8:47 AM

    >Ha! Well, I fail at number one and number eleven, but I got the other ones down.
    Can't wait until my beloved House starts in the fall…*grin*

  67. Jaime on July 6, 2010 at 8:43 AM

    >#12 – allow yourself to ramble. Describe something you saw today with as much flair as possible and then whittle it all down into one very descriptive sentence. It's fun to take a wordy, adjective filled paragraph and learn how to say the same thing in 13 words or less!

  68. mary bailey on July 6, 2010 at 8:42 AM

    >Oh, this is a great post, Rachelle! Living life intentionally is what it's all about.

  69. Steven K. Griffin on July 6, 2010 at 8:38 AM

    >Sorry – my last comment was a little off topic. I broke a major rule of engagement by commenting without having my morning coffee.

    To bring it back to NON-writing related ideas, I would add: go out with friends and have fun on a regular basis. We all need time to detox and rid our minds completely of thinking about our WIPs. Going out to a movie, dinner, etc. with a group of friends who you know won't ask you about your latest adventures in writing can be a good way to let your mind relax from being creative. Everyone needs time off, even us writers.

  70. middle grade ninja on July 6, 2010 at 8:35 AM

    >Someone already mentioned read for number 12 and I fully agree. Reading is essential. But since someone already said it, I'll add in get an audiobook or two to listen to books while doing mundane tasks such as exercise or dishes. Sometimes it's good to be quiet and think. Other times, that's valuable reading time. Get an MP3 player, load it with books, and take it with you everywhere.

  71. Dan on July 6, 2010 at 8:33 AM

    >You have to read. A lot. And you have to read good books.

    You should read a lot before you ever start writing. Reading is how you learn what a good sentence feels like. Reading helps you develop your command of the finer points of grammar and syntax. Reading improves your vocabulary.

    Reading is also the best way to learn about plot and structure. If you don't know where to begin and to end, you need to read, to learn the shape of a story. Movies can also help you with learning about narrative structure, since they compress the whole thing into about two hours. Watch, in particular, how they open and how they introduce characters.

    Television's narrative objective is to sustain narrative tension and viewer interest while moving the plot slowly. You can learn a lot about these tricks from serialized dramas like "Lost" and "Mad Men."

    If you suffer from excessive exposition or info-dumping, you need to read more, to learn how to get that background into the story in an organic way.

    Dialog that works on the page is a little different from the way people actually talk, but it feels natural. And many things people say, the pleasantries and small talk, are excluded on the page. If your dialog is clunky or awkward you need to read more, to learn how to write it.

    If you aren't well-read, you are probably missing some important things from your toolbox.

  72. christa on July 6, 2010 at 8:21 AM

    >Read great books…you can even learn something from not-so-great ones.

    Switch for a day from laptop to pad and pen or from pad and pen to laptop.

  73. Daniel F. Case on July 6, 2010 at 7:59 AM

    >Take an acting class. Learn to get inside the skin of someone who is your polar opposite and like it.


  74. BK on July 6, 2010 at 7:46 AM

    >The only problem w/taking up a hobby (I'd love to learn to play the banjo, learn to draw and paint)is that they would require the same intensive time investment as writing. As long as I'm working, I can forget about it. Maybe one day. Sigh.

  75. Rachel on July 6, 2010 at 7:45 AM

    >Read and pay attention. I also keep a book blog–reviewing books is a mental calisthenic and writing brief summaries causes me to sniff out the story arch/underlying structure of a story. Good for the writerly brain!

  76. blissful_e on July 6, 2010 at 7:40 AM

    >Love this list!

    I recently fixed the comment issue that meant I wasn't able to comment on Blogger blogs (I would comment, hit submit, and watch my comment disappear into thin air). After some research I discovered that I needed to check the "allow third party cookies" option in my Firefox browser. Hope this helps someone else.

  77. Kelly Freestone on July 6, 2010 at 7:35 AM

    >Thanks, Rachelle!
    Great head shot btw. ๐Ÿ™‚

    You know, I love just using my senses. We went to the Holy Land Experience in Ocala, and I kept my senses on overdrive.


    Keeping my senses hightened made it super easy and FUN to write about what I was experienceing.

    Also prompting.
    Find writing prompts and shoot!

  78. Sharon A. Lavy on July 6, 2010 at 7:30 AM

    >My creative outlet is sewing and dress pattern tweaking.

  79. Susan Bourgeois on July 6, 2010 at 7:25 AM

    >It's fun to people watch. It's interesting to sit in silence while observing the lives of others. On many occasions I'll wait in the car while my husband goes into the grocery store to grab an item.

    I am continually amazed at the interactions I see all around me. Sometimes you'll see small acts of kindness.

    Other times you'll hear people in major discussions on their cell phones. Occasionally I'll hear and see arguments.

    I am shocked that people don't realize or care that they are behaving this way in public.

    It makes me sad to see people so stressed out. Many times I'll say a short prayer for them.

    It's wonderful to see an older couple holding hands. It makes me wonder how many storms they've had to weather throughout their time together. People watching is fun to do at parks, malls or the beach.

    I love to imagine what other people's lives are like. I enjoy observing different cultures.

  80. Lance Albury on July 6, 2010 at 7:22 AM

    >I like #6 about watching TV intentionally. I would add to that all electronic media.

    Don't answer your phone every time it rings.
    Swear off texting.
    For those who do Facebook/tweeting/blogging, set aside specific times and limit them.
    Don't use Google or Wikipedia as a crutch, breakout a dictionary or encyclopedia instead.
    Ditch the Wii and actually do something.

  81. Wendy Paine Miller on July 6, 2010 at 7:16 AM

    >Noticed on Twitter that Blogger is eating comments. Came back to leave mine again. Take that Blogger!

    Get plenty of rest and tell your dreams to go wild.

    Tweeted this. It's an excellent post!

    Stop eating comments Blogger or I'll have to come after you with my wooden spoon.
    ~ Wendy

  82. Adventures in Children's Publishing on July 6, 2010 at 7:13 AM

    >I agree with all of these points. Although it can be considered a form of writing, I think blogging each day helps you stay informed. If you have your own blog, it helps for the reasons you've enumerated related to tweeting. Love the addition to read, as well.

    Thanks Rachelle!

  83. Yvonne Osborne on July 6, 2010 at 7:02 AM

    >Yours is already a wonderful list and spot on. I especially like eating dinner alone in a restaurant, or have a drink at a bar by yourself. That takes a lot of gusto. The only thing I would have trouble doing is watching tv and jumping out of a plane. My #12….keep a journal and strive to write in it every day, even if is only a sentence. Twittering for yourself, you could say.

  84. Rachelle on July 6, 2010 at 7:02 AM

    >Just wanted to let everyone know that Blogger is having problems and comments are disappearing. I'm so sorry! I can't do anything to help this. I heard it was happening to others, now it's happening to me. I know I have at least 17 comments on this post, and only 7 are showing up. Frustrating!

  85. Little Ms Blogger on July 6, 2010 at 6:58 AM

    >Become a great listener. I find if you really listen to people, you get the greatest stories and learn a lot more than you imagined.

  86. Steven K. Griffin on July 6, 2010 at 6:56 AM

    >I echo Meagan, surround yourself with other writers (physically or virtually). I would also add, allow others to critique your work. Some of the biggest learning advancements I've had in my own writing is by letting others read and provide constructive criticism on things I have written.

  87. Wendy Paine Miller on July 6, 2010 at 6:44 AM

    >Get enough sleep and tell your dreams to go wild.

    I love this list! Am off to tweet it now.
    ~ Wendy

  88. Katy McKenna on July 6, 2010 at 6:40 AM

    >Ask for and listen to the stories of old people. They all look alike when you walk into the nursing home and see them circled around the fish tank in their wheelchairs. It is almost to impossible to imagine that they ever had lives! Don't be deceived. You will be shocked to find what individual, amazing lives they've led. Don't be surprised if you meet a four-star general, a former nun, a mother of 15 children, or a bestselling author.

  89. Megan on July 6, 2010 at 6:37 AM

    >Fantastic list, thank you.

    It's certainly important to remain open-minded about the world around you and notice the little things.

  90. Buffy Andrews on July 6, 2010 at 6:15 AM

    >I like this one from Grandma D of ELLA'S DANCE (my YA).

    Note 14
    My dearest Ella,
    Live life to the fullest.
    I once knew a man who had so many dreams that he recorded them in a tiny black notebook. Whenever Iโ€™d see him, heโ€™d show me his notebook so I could see the new dreams he had added. One day, I asked him how many of the dreams he had fulfilled. The answer? None. He spent his lifetime collecting dreams but never living them. Of course, he had all sorts of excuses. Not enough money. Not enough time. Too young. Too old. It got so that I stopped asking about his dreams whenever I saw him. And he stopped showing me his tiny black notebook. He died recently and along with him all those dreams.
    Donโ€™t be like this man, Ella. Donโ€™t be a collector of dreams. Live life to the fullest and give it everything youโ€™ve got. You only get one shot at life, so make it a great one.
    Love you bunches and bunches, Grandma

  91. Kimberly Kincaid on July 6, 2010 at 6:10 AM

    >Read! Read a lot ๐Ÿ™‚

    Also, don't be afraid to ask. When I write, I ask for help if I need it (crit partner, expert in a certain field, others in the industry via blogs or websites, etc.) and it always comes back to help me tenfold. It definitely makes me a better writer to ask questions, sometimes lots of them.

    Great list! I really loved this ๐Ÿ™‚

  92. Lisa Jordan on July 6, 2010 at 5:53 AM

    >Love the list, R. Printing it out and hanging it on my desk. Here are my suggestions:

    12. Go to the library and check out a random book–something outside of your comfort zone. You may be surprised…and borrowing is free.

    13. Read the classics and see what makes those characters so interesting.

    14. Watch TV and mute the sound. Write down what you see, and then rewrite it to see if you can show not tell.

    15. Girls night out/Date night with spouse or S.O./Family game night–and pay attention to how your loved ones interact.

    16. People watch at the mall/eavesdrop on conversations.

  93. Malin on July 6, 2010 at 5:50 AM

    >#12. Sense your surroundings
    Memorize how things smell and taste and feel against your skin. Everything from the gross and overwhelming to the delicious and subtle.

  94. Lydia Sharp on July 6, 2010 at 5:35 AM

    >This sort of goes along with number 2-4, but in a more specific sense:

    If you don't have children and don't plan on having children, find a way to spend long stretches of time with them. Babysit, volunteer at a school, park yourself on a playground bench for a few hours in the summertime, etc. Children often open our eyes to things in the world we would not otherwise see. Also, I think many stories would benefit from the addition of a young-ish character. They provide humorous moments, force adults to rethink their behavior, make you contemplate your past life and future goals… I could go on forever, so I'll stop there. ๐Ÿ™‚

    And if you already have children, take notice of them. Many story ideas of mine have come through my son, either directly or indirectly.

  95. Poetry Of Course on July 6, 2010 at 5:24 AM

    >12. Read, read, read in your chosen genre.

  96. Barbara on July 6, 2010 at 2:49 AM

    >12. Learn a new language and take a trip to the country and explore it. I am doing Danish at the moment – it's fun. All the best from Germany, Barbara

  97. Thomas Sinclair on July 6, 2010 at 2:45 AM

    >Spend time just thinking. Think big thoughts about philosophy, about the world, about the cosmos, about flowers, about ants on the ground, about why sugar is white. Wonder about things big and small, and just let your thoughts carry you where they will.

  98. Anonymous on July 6, 2010 at 2:43 AM

    >The title could also say how to become a better person. Everyone should follow this list ๐Ÿ™‚

  99. Meagan Spooner on July 6, 2010 at 2:18 AM

    >Surround yourself with other writers. For me, nothing is so inspiring–and encouraging–as talking about writing with other people as passionate about it as I am. No one (other than you) can hold you as accountable to your own goals as other writers can. They understand the accomplishment in forcing yourself to sit down and write on a day when you just don't want to, and they understand the triumphs and pitfalls you go through on a daily basis. Other writers (so long as they're serious and positive and professional and all of that) are the best support group out there.

  100. writer jim on July 6, 2010 at 1:40 AM

    Obeying a Bible command and/or God's voice is your greatest of all potentials. You may see something happen you couldn't even dream up for fiction.

  101. Shawna Marie Bryant on July 6, 2010 at 1:24 AM

    >13. Stay up passed your bedtime reading blogs.

  102. Shawna Marie Bryant on July 6, 2010 at 1:22 AM

    >12. Cuddle a baby, puppy or kitty.