Grab your hot beverage of choice and a notebook, and settle in.

When I’m perusing Half Price Books and spot a book with an amazing cover and jacket text to match, I often find myself muttering the title phrase of this post — half out of rage, and half out of sheer awe. How did I not think of this? Oh, right, because I’m not as brilliant as the author who conceived of it, actually wrote it, and then got it published.

I say this despite having . That’s because, it turns out, I approach every new idea with the same trepidation and terror I had with that first…


My favorite writing exercise of all time is from Ray Bradbury, in Zen in the Art of Writing. It’s very simple: you conjure up nouns from your memories and life experiences, and write them down as if they were story titles.

THE FIRST MOVIE. THE WHALE. THE BEAR. THE SOUP. THE BROKEN ARM. THE GOODBYE.

Bradbury always did this exercise in all-caps, and so do I; it makes the results feel more title-like, therefore conjuring sensations rather than simply specific images. How ominous does THE BLACKENED TRUCK sound? How mysterious is THE GEM SHOP?

If this exercise sounds intriguing, I…

August Niehaus

Self-published author of “Daugment.” Daylights as a UX designer. Amateur food-slinger. Intermediate animal-whisperer.

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