Friday, 3 August 2018

Creative Writing Pick-Me-Ups

All artists go through a period of creative block every once in a while, whether it is paintings they produce, or prose. What can be more frustrating than having a goal or deadline to meet, only to find yourself slipping into a routine of getting nothing done? Inspiration is a fickle thing, and so you have to grab it when it comes and then wrangle with it to stay, like some kind of wild, frenzied animal that wants feeding at the strangest of hours and then takes off the minute the front door is left ajar.
Left stunned from the inspiration beast’s great escape, what you need is a restorative, or a writing pick-me-up! Here are some of the things that help me when I’ve been left feeling beaten down after a battle with the beast. Perhaps you can also give them a go when creativity has gone out the window.

New Books - Ellie Morris

Take a break
This may seem like it defeats the purpose of trying to get back into a creative writing flow, but sometimes you just need to let go for a while. There’s no use in trying to force things, as it will only frustrate you further. Don’t feel bad about it, but pick up some of your other hobbies instead. It should be something relatively easy and enjoyable. I recently got back into photography and drawing, for example.

Find something new
Shuffle through some different playlists on Spotify and find a new song that you like, go through random articles on Wikipedia until you discover something worth perusal, start a new hobby which has been on your mind for a while now, take a trip out of town and go sightseeing, buy a new book, watch a film in a different genre… You might just find something that can join the missing links between plot point A and character B, or an idea for a new story. It’s unlikely that you can gather enough information for new ideas or motivation when you’re sitting still, watching the cursor blink on the screen, and doing the same old things every time.

Read lots
Lots and lots and lots, whenever or wherever you can. Unwind with old favourites which you have found interesting and inspiring before and explore new genres. If you’re finding fantasy or historical fiction old hat, dig up a classic novel to check out at the library or buy something from a relatively new author whose work you haven’t seen yet. Take a chance, for a balance of new and old can get you on an even keel again. Just keep reading, keep learning, keep persevering.

Read about writing, too
I’m sure you’ll always find new hints and tips! Search for creative writing blogs to follow and drop by the bookstore to look through novels written on the subject. Everybody has at least some room for improvement, and it’s important to recognise that and take steps to see how other people keep up their motivation and reach success. As a side note, I’m re-reading Stephen King’s “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft”, and even in this guide he lists lots of further references, meaning that I’ll be drowning in new improvement books to buy (my bank account doesn’t like it, but yay, I guess).
In the case of blogs, other people’s passion for writing can get you excited and ready to write again, too. Bouncing ideas back and forth with a writer friend will make the whole novel-writing journey easier!

Make mood boards
Gather pretty pictures and slam them down on a page. Write around those pictures. Just scribble, scrawl, doodle, draw, and fling paint around like you’re some kind of modern artist in an awful funk. If mum asks about the acid green paint on the ceiling, just say that it’s all for a good cause. But what does the green paint mean? Something about the colour green is calling you, and it must mean something. Write it down. Write anything down. And get messy with the glue. Afterwards, take a step back and try to figure out the bigger picture. How do those colours and things relate to your current piece? How are any of them connected to the current scene? Do they string together at all? Is it an environment, a person or an emotion? Can it lead to new things? Or is your room just in good need of a tidy right now?

Set a goal
Try for 500 words, even if you know they will turn out to be nonsense. Just get something down on the blank page. Don’t mull it over too much, but let it be a stream of consciousness uninterrupted by doubts or extravagant goals. Make a cup of tea or coffee before starting, get comfy, and then reward yourself with a small sweet treat afterwards. Next time, make the goal slightly bigger, until you’re back into your usual routine.

Change of scene
Take your laptop to a local café and camp out for the day. Make sure to take headphones and plenty of money for caffeinated drinks, and find a quiet corner to spread out notebooks, documents, and battle plans. If you don’t fancy spending any money, bring a notebook along to a park or garden and sit with nature, taking notes on what you see. Think about your story without actually having it there to intimidate you; this can offer a new perspective, as more often than not the finer, minute details are forgotten and the story is back to its original outlines, which is what drew you in to write the story in the first place. Just sitting somewhere other than at your desk (or wherever else you spend day after day for the task) can make things more interesting.

I hope somebody will find at least one point in this list helpful. Please let me know in the comments if you have any more ideas!


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