In honor of the first day of NaNoWriMo 2011 ***cheers*** (National Novel-Writing Month, for the uninitiated) I’m blogging about something I’m sure none of my lovely writing friends need help with…at least, not on fantabulous Day 1 of a month devoted to writing:
How to write when you are in the mood to curl up in the comfy chair with your favorite four-legged pal and veg out in the company of your favorite…
- sugary treat
- fill in the blank _____________
…and you absolutely, positively are NOT in the mood to write. Not even a grocery list, thank you very much. Not that I’ve ever been there. Much. 😀
Here’s my list of fave ways to kick the writing doldrums. Bookmark it, print it out, or write up your own and keep it handy and ready to smack down any anti-writing vibes that may creep up on you in the next month! Because remember, the best defense is a good offense!
- Go for a walk. Exercise is a proven way to get your brain–and your creative juices flowing. I find this works especially well if you bring along a pen but no paper. When ideas know they can only be captured on skin, clothing, and other materials not usually designed for writing, they’re far more likely to come out to play.
- Freewrite. That is, write anything. Really anything, whatever words pop into your head–and if no words pop into your head, feel free to write okay, I can’t think of anything to write this feels really stupid. Brains being what they are, yours will eventually take an unexpected turn. You may discover the perfect solution to your problem scene or you may write dreck—but the way I see it, sometimes you have to write the dreck before you can write the good stuff. Kinda like running the faucet until the water runs clear.
- Set a word goal. This is what NaNoWriMo is all about, right? By giving yourself a goal, you give your brain something to work toward. Maybe it doesn’t feel like producing words for you, but if it just coughs up a few…more…phrases, maybe you’ll be satisfied and leave it alone. Or maybe you’ll feed it chocolate….
- Set a timer. I’ve written before about thepower of deadlines to increase your production. If you don’t feel like writing, coax your muse into a 15 minute sprint and see what happens!
- Mine your memory for emotion. What emotion does your character feel in the current scene? Pull up a memory where you felt that emotion and write it out—and then apply that depth of feeling to your scene and see what happens.
- Mine your character’s memories. If you don’t know what happens next in your tale, it might help to go backwards for a bit. What memories do your story’s events evoke in your main character? What memories, good or bad, will be triggered by his current challenge? This backstory might not fit into your current scene, but that’s okay (see #7). Heck, it might not even make it into the final manuscript, but that’s what NaNoWriMo is all about: generating raw material from which you can craft a great story.
- Skip ahead. There are lots of reasons for a stuck story. Maybe you’re writing a scene that doesn’t need to appear in the final manuscript, an event that can be summarized rather than shown. Maybe the scene is boring and needs some action to liven things up. Maybe you’re trying to force your character to perform actions that fit the plot but aren’t really true to his or her character. Whatever the reason, sometimes it helps to jump forward to another scene and go back later to fill in the gaps—or leave the gaps unfilled, if you discover they weren’t needed in the first place.
- Switch point of view. I find this exercise incredibly helpful when I am figuring out how my antagonist will react in a scene. I write out what he wants, what he thinks, how he responds emotionally as well as physically as events unfold—and even though I may never use those actual words, they enable me to understand how he would react to unfolding events.
- Make a list. If the words won’t flow in the traditional paragraph format, try listing key details for a scene: possible plot directions, sensory details, character emotions, logical chains of events, illogical reactions, character paranoias, stage directions, etc. Pretty soon one will trigger your muse into cooperation.
- Incorporate an unexpected image. If you’re feeling stuck, find a picture that speaks to you and let it serve as a writing prompt. Pinterest is my new favorite place to browse images galore; select your category and scroll through the cute, the fantastic, the ugly, the raw.
- Try a prompt. Sometimes you just don’t know enough about characters or scene for the words to flow freely. A writing prompt can help you discover story and character. Check out one of these resources to find a prompt that inspires:
What tips or tricks do you use to get yourself writing when you really, really, really don’t feel like hitting the page? Please share in the comments!