It happens - you're hurtling through traffic on a collision course with a speeding deadline, or slouching on the sofa as "reality" parades across the face of a 32-inch-box, or quietly sipping a cup of tea and... lightening strikes. Something, a sound or smell or sight, grabs you by the collar, jolts you from your sensory slumber and leaves you whispering an astonished, "Wow." As writers we live for these moments in life because, when cared for properly, a fleeting insight can be transformed into a full-grown essay, article or story. Consider asking yourself these questions to help fully develop your revelatory moments:

1. What, specifically, struck you? Was it something physical - the aforementioned sight or sound or smell? Was it a concept unrelated to the physical senses? A memory that raced through the attic of your mind, sweeping away the years? Identifying the source of your inspiration will help bring focus to your piece.

2. Why is it important to you? What emotion is tied to your insight? Were you amazed, awestruck, frightened, angry, puzzled, inspired, enlightened or confused? Once you understand your own emotional response you can start to establish the feel of your piece, from lighthearted or whimsical to judiciously serious.

3. How does this apply to others? This answer determines whether your writing resonates with your readers. So, go slowly. Ask each of the first two questions again, now from the perspective of your intended audience: What will strike my readers? Why will it be important to their lives? This is the last big hurdle - once you're comfortable with this part, the tell-a-tale-train picks up speed.

4. Is the piece personal, factual or sheer fantasy? This is the nuts and bolts phase of your project. If the piece is personal, or fantasy, here is where you jot down your notes and establish a basic outline. If your piece is nonfiction, here is where you set out the additional steps you will take to establish a sense of substance and authority, including online research and additional self-education.

5. Where's my pencil? Ah... Yes, you are now at the point where it is necessary to take up paper and pencil, of the physical or keyboard variety, and begin. Begin. Don't worry about completing the piece at this point, just start. Concentrate on the first sentence and before you know it...

The rush of life often overwhelms. But sometimes, briefly, we catch the lilt of a lullaby dancing with the wind and - life speaks to us. When life next speaks to you in a strong and quiet voice, or smacks you upside the head in an onslaught of insight, share your experience with the rest of us. Take a bit of time to ask yourself the questions above and, with a little nurturing, you'll turn your "Wows" into words.
About the Author

Tim Anderson is a freelance writer who has a special interest in medical topics. Visit his blog at

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