As an experienced writer, I have encountered all the fun things my brain does to me. Writer’s block, lack of inspiration, Fear of Success, Writing characters into a corner, and the ever popular 4,000 Stories all want to be written now!
I’m pretty sure there are resources out there for all but that last one. For Writer’s Block, you just need a few prompts to write from. You can search Pinterest and find word prompts by the bushel. You can Google Happy Place and get one or two bits of scenery that might spark your writing interest. Or you can visualize a place you have visited that took your breath away. The Grand Canyon is at the top of my list in that category.
Fear of Success is an insidious feeling if you never convince yourself you are good enough. This where a support group of writers is the best solution. Join RWA, do NaNoWriMo, search Meetups in your area for writing groups, or go online and post your work to one of the many (Scribophile) writers’ Groups (Scribophile) that exist for your benefit. Like, oh maybe, Scribophile.
Writing characters into a corner is easy at first look. Back up a chapter and punt. But maybe that corner was a part of the process to get to the end of the plot. One thing I have never tried but that would work in this instance is to write from the end to the beginning. For example, Dick and Jane live happily ever after. Jane leaves her lover and decides to stay married to Dick. Dick realizes he loves Jane enough to forgive her for taking a lover and maybe he should be more affectionate and attentive to her so she doesn’t have to go looking elsewhere for sex. You get the idea.
Your 4,000 stories and mine need to be patient and put on an index card system with the title of the story, the title of the file on your computer, and simple information. Then you put more details in the computer file. When you have the time, you open the card file box (that you picked up at an antique store) and randomly draw a card. Or have your child or parrot pick it. If you go with the parrot, be sure to take it away quickly unless you decided never to actually write that story. A child will usually trade you the card for a cookie. Don’t skimp on the cookies!
Finally, lack of inspiration. I saved this one because the totally delightful Chris Marie Green, aka Crystal Green, spoke to my local RWA chapter about Pied Piping the Muse. The woman is a genius. So what you need to do is get a stack of black writing paper, several pens just in case, and put on your headphones. Then randomly Google a type of music. Randomly pick one you don’t know. It doesn’t have to be very long. Movie music is especially useful in this process because it’s designed to be evocative.
This is an interactive process with music, where you meditate with the music rather than ignoring it in the background. Music has many special properties, as stated in The Mozart Effect by Don Campbell. Chris took a workshop on this and several books came out of this event and were published. The biggest challenge is to get the idea rolling.
Note: Instrumentals work best but you can use a song with words. Especially if it’s in a language you don’t speak. If it’s in English, you need to dive deeper than the surface of the song and interpret the story.
So, Step One is to be still and just listen. Internalize what might be happening. Second, play the same piece over. This time, pick up a pen and write down the words the music inspires in you. All the words, although I worked better with sentences. But words are the only thing needed. Don’t stop until the music ends. Finally, play the same piece and flesh out the thoughts you had. Your muse has given you building blocks in this exercise, use them!
Chris Marie Green played three separate pieces for us and I found myself writing a basis for a novel, a beginning for a short story, and a few details for my third Regency Banquet novel that is due out last year. Sigh. Progress has been made!
And that was just the morning session! Next time, I’ll be back to share A Brave, New World: Options for the Freelance Writer. Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Thursday.