Thursday, April 3, 2014

What Strategies Do You Use When You Get Stuck As a Writer?

As a teacher of writing, I get this all the time from my students. It's difficult to get unstuck, but sometimes, especially when you're writing a novel, you have to let your ideas bounce around in your brain and run into other ideas and thoughts until your characters work out their struggles for you. Or you could just go with the flow of your writing, and not resist what the characters want to do.

For instance, one scene I just finished tonight, I had actually envisioned when I first tried to write the chapter, but I edited it from my mind and tried to come up with something different. I wasn't listening to what my character had to do, what he was driven to do. Maybe I just didn't want him to fail. But I knew he had to fail to put everyone in more peril than they were previously. 

There are some strategies that I use to get myself unstuck. Here they are:

  1. Read another book. Get completely immersed in another world, the language of the author, the flow of ideas. Now look to see how many other books that author has written. Have they written more than you? Then, start writing again, so people will get immersed in the worlds you create and your language.
  2. Brainstorm in a journal. I think about the place, the senses, and what I envision happening in that place with a certain character or characters. Sometimes the act of writing in ink in a book, another medium, can get your mind working differently, less editorially, more creatively.
  3. Freewrite. I did this a bunch of times with this chapter. It really helped me because I was so stuck, I didn't even have anything envisioned in some places. So, I typed as fast as I could for five or ten minutes. If you're a NaNoWriMo writer, this would be referred to as a "writing sprint."
  4. Go to a movie based on a book you've read. Similar to getting immersed in a book, but seeing someone else's interpretation of the author's words may get your mind thinking more like a director. You see the big picture or you see details brought to life in a different way to convey the same idea, emotion or scene. I recently saw Divergent by Virginia Roth.
  5. Take a shower. My best ideas come to me in the shower. I actually read an article on the Internet about why taking a shower or driving seems to open up creativity. Both are kind of routine activities, which puts your mind into an Alpha state.(I've read a lot about brain activity because of my main character, Cassie, and her mind-reading abilities.)  Alpha brainwaves are more relaxed and open to think about ideas without censorship. Theta brainwaves lead to drowsiness and possible extrasensory perception. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave your comments :D