In which the author explains why he’s using this weird term and how the practice of zing hunting can change your life

What the heck is zing?

Writing stories depends on a never-ending flow of ideas, but not just any old collection of ideas. They have to be ideas that carry current. They turn you on, spark your imagination, stoke your desire. They tingle your cool meter. Dude, yes, ah, oh baby, man-o-man, great oogily boogily–these are all common responses when you come across these types of ideas.

Most zings are small tingles. Others are zaps. Still others are freaking gigawatt monsters that shake you about and leave you breathless.

There are things you must do to find and generate these ideas, which I discuss in the writers section of this site. However, one of the principles is that when one of these ideas presents itself, you must capture it. Otherwise, it flees and it’s as if you never had it in the first place.

What zing hunting does for you

Besides providing the source for stories, looking for zing also increases your enjoyment of life. I once taught teen writers workshop where we met one day each week for three weeks. During the first class I introduced zing and told the students they were to hunt for 10 zings each day.

They were dismayed. They groaned. Ten? Was that possible?

The next week all of the students came back bubbling about all the things they’d found. One of them said it had changed things for her: her world which had been relatively hum-drum was suddenly filled with the cool. The other students agreed.

We all are limited by what we can perceive and focus on. Our working memories are so small. And so it’s easy to focus on so many mundane business-of-life things and miss the wonderful show of lights that goes on around us.

This is what hunting for zing does for you. It quite literally changes your world.

Be a hunter.

Capture the zing.

Use scratch paper, the back of a receipt, get a notebook, a folder file, a camera, a sketchbook. Just capture it when it comes. And it will come.

In the meantime, it’s the nature of zing that you want to share it. And so when I post a zing, it’s just my way of saying, “Dude, look at this!”

Dude, look at this

Go here. Watch the brief clip. Then purchase the Clear Vision DVD. It will change you. (BTW, you can watch a different version called Everyday Creativity here. It says “Preview,” but it’s the whole wonderful video. You’re still going to want to purchase it, so get the Clear Vision version.)

Dewitt Jones is a National Geographic photographer. The principles of creativity, including capturing zing, apply to any creative endeavour–from writing and drawing to coming up with a new microchip. And this video, HOLY COW, it’s so good I had to buy it so I could watch it whenever the yearning takes me.

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