To jump start my day I keep a file named "three minutes" on my computer desktop. While my coffee brews I open a document and write whatever comes to mind. When the coffee is ready -- about three minutes later -- I save the document with the day's date. Sometimes I do just continue working on it, but usually I move on to other business. Then when I'm short on inspiration or just being lazy, I open a three-minute file at random and see what I can do with it. I've gotten some good poems and short stories from this exercise.
Dixon says: what a great idea. I find that almost any scribbling or typing loosens me up physically and mentally, whether it's replying to an email, making a journal entry, or revising my To Do list. Dianne's suggestion is so much better - tapping into the writer's creativity on an unrelated topic.
I'm learning so much from tips other writers have sent in, and really appreciate all of you. If anyone else has a tip on the craft of writing, or the process of getting published, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org - thanks!