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Writing about Love, War and Life

Updated on June 19, 2010

In the Beginning...

I talk to people about hubpages all the time. One of the most common questions I get is "how do you write a hub"? I have to be honest and admit that not everything I have written has been a best seller, in fact, perhaps some things I have written weren't even best seller material - though I have a hard time admitting it to myself.

Yet on the other hand, much of what I've written has done well, with thousands of people reading and dozens reading theme every day. But regardless of how I am doing with my own hubbing, I like encouraging other people to give it a try and get started.

People get excited about the possibility of making money from their hubs, and they like the idea, or the thought of publishing their own material on the internet where people can read their own writing. So most people view it as fun - and it is. But it sure can feel challenging to get past the block of "what do I write", "how do I go about this" or even "what should I title my hub"?

The Very First Thought of the Day

The "how to" question is what I will try to answer. I've now written approximately 30 hubs, and used about the same methodology for each one. Here it is:

It starts with the first thing that sticks in my mind when I wake up. Not necessarily, the very first thing I think of, but the first thing that draws enough mental energy out of me to occupy my thoughts for more than a few seconds. If it sticks, I start thinking about how I want to share it with the rest of the world.

Sharing what I think with anyone who will listen feels very natural to me, but I was raised by a rather evangelical mother, who thought it was a good idea to tell anyone and everyone about your faith. But then I take this a step further and say, there are people out there who share some interests you have - and there are people who think what you have to say is interesting too.

It's all about how you connect with your audience. Did the photo next to this hub get your attention? I chose that to make you think - ideally, you want your hub to cover a topic, have a theme and the kind of content that will grab people and pull them in - you need to be inspired - the way deep passion and romance inspire.

Then when a thought sticks in my head that really moves me, I try to write a hub to share it with the rest of the world. But this is only the beginning. Most days, I haven't even got to the shower when this thought process has started - and that is a good thing. The shower is a key part of the process.

Clearing Your Thoughts in the Shower

Often, the whole idea for a new hub comes together while I'm in the shower. I've always done a lot of thinking in the shower - no distractions, consistent routine, and the warm water all seem to help. There I stand, completely naked before God, and my best thought of the day run through my head. It's true. And it actually makes sense - no phone ringing, no bills in front of me, no meetings to attend in five minutes - for a few minutes before I join the daily grind, I'm free.

Whatever I'm thinking in the shower is likely to be the organizational structure of the hub I'm about to write. Now I'm motivated. I get out out, towel off and I'm ready to write. Now it's time for the physical part of getting the hub done and online. And the mechanics become very important.

Hand-Eye Coordination

Ok, here's what I tell people about great writing: sit down in front of your computer. Make sure you've got your thoughts in mind. Now, take the traditional boxing pose. Left hand up, right hand back. You're ready for the knock out punch with both hands balled into fists.

Then take your right hand, unfold your fingers and lay them across the middle of the keyboard. With your left hand still balled in a fist, part your thumb from your fist, hold it erect, and insert it into your mouth. You are now sucking your thumb - and you are ready to write a truly great hub.

Say what?

The Thumb Sucking Article: The Pinnacle of Great Writing

Something happens when you suck your thumb. It's been true for two year olds for centuries, and perhaps we've overlooked a very simple, but incredible method of therapy for adults. With your thumb in your mouth, it is very hard to do much but think - and think about deep things worthy of putting into writing.

Joel Belz, the venerable editor of World Magazine, once told me he was at a point in his career that he only wrote "thumb sucking" pieces. That is, he put his thumb in his mouth and wrote. I listened and laughed. Then I tried it myself, and to my surprise - it works!

The words begin to flow, and make so much more sense. Invariably, my "thumb sucking" hubs rank higher than those I try to write with both hands on the keyboard. Ah, but true, there is a drawback to the method. Most of us are not particularly adept at typing with only one hand. I admit, it's tricky.

But I also admit, I cheat a little. Well, it's not really cheating, it's more a matter of "refining". Really, after you try this for awhile, you learn you only need your thumb inside your mouth when you're stuck on what to say next. Once you get it and know where you going next with the hub, you lay both hands on the keys and let the magic run through.

There's actually a metaphysical quality to this - your hand draws the brain power and energy from the saliva on your thumb, and then it gets transferred through to the keys on your computer and into a fabulous hub.

Try it, see what happens. Play around with the method and see if you find a few tips to share with the rest of us. But whatever you do, enjoy the moment - put your thumb in your mouth and go write the world's next great hub!


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