Writer’s Inspiration Boost

 Literature Blogs

I’ve been thinking and thinking and thinking of how to connect two main characters in one of my novels (besides the obvious conflicts). I need (want) them to be interconnected, but I can’t brainstorm how they do. It’s been a struggle on my poor brain. I think about them, wander away, sometimes for a couple months, then come back to think some more. I keep wondering why it’s not working, or if I should just trash one character or perhaps the entire story. (It’s not really writer’s block. Although, I admit, I don’t know what that is besides an excuse.) However, the problem makes me wonder about various ways to boost inspiration and imagination and creativity.

1) Eat well, sleep well, get exercise, see your doctor. Being pain-free, and having blood moving swiftly through your body and into your little grey cells, can only help stimulate writing thoughts and get those creative juices flowing. Sometimes when I’m stuck, I take a LONG walk. This does three things for me: unfreezes my stiffened muscles from sitting hours in one position at my computer; distracts me with neighborhood happenings; and releases some built up story-making-adreneline to free my mind to think more clearly.

2) Get off of drugs which make your brain sluggish. (Talk with your doctor about this one.)

3) Get onto drugs, which make your brain a wilderness to explore. (A Federal Marshall I know who is a mystery writer solves his writer’s block or plot problems by “sitting down with Jack” (a bottle of Jack Daniels) until he comes up with a solution in his plot. Personally, I think this way would turn my mind to mush, so it’s not something I recommend; just something I know works for one crazed writer.)

4) Find writing support. Join a writing organization and participate. You can also find writing support by taking a class or by reading books on craft. Three of my favorite ones include ON WRITING, THE FIRST FIVE PAGES, and NOVEL METAMORPHOSIS: UNCOMMON WAYS TO REVISE. In the Nov/Dec 2010 issue of SCBWI bulletin, Kate Dopirak writes about forming her “writing team” in a classroom of middle school kids. A self-published author I know uses his “editors,” who are six beta readers, including librarians and teachers. There are unlimited writing support groups on-line (critique groups, forums, listservs, blogs, etc). It can be done live (critique groups, writing conferences, going to hear visiting authors, local write-ins, etc.). 5) Step back from the story. Maybe start another one. But then come back to your original story, knead out those bumps, and become an award-winning author.

What additional ways do you have to boost your writing?

NaNoWriMo Begins — Permission to Write Drek

Literature Blogs 

Today is day one of NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. I participated last year, and will do so this year as well. Although what I produce during NaNoWriMo is not readable at the end of the month, and perhaps not even finished, I get inspired by short-term writing goals, and end up putting down lots of words to work with. I did not make my 50,000 word goal last year, but came close. Most of what I wrote ended up as stream of consciousness, but all related to the story. I ended up deleting about 9/10 of what I wrote. But that 10% was well worth it, and made for a solid foundation of a novel, which I did end up finishing last spring.

NaNoWriMo seems a sloppy way to write, yet is very productive. The end product is trash can material, with a few pages and ideas and scenes rescued. Yet to me, NaNoWriMo is a means to an end. It inspires me to make writing a priority. Deletions (lots) and revisions (tons) follow.

Novel Revision Workshop Teacher, Darcy Pattison, suggests to get a story down first. Then, you can make it readable. (My paraphrase; apologies to Darcy.)

I will get my story down this month – or at least a good chunk of my thinking-writing time will be spent doing this. I actually look forward to the January to spring revisions.

I am reminded of my friend Ross, who told me last summer that he has a splendid story idea, and that if I wanted to write it out, I could have the idea for free. Ideas are easy. Writing is hard. Perhaps I should introduce Ross to NaNoWriMo, even though he doesn’t own a computer and still uses a land-line rotary dial phone. (Who needs to make up fictional characters?)

Good luck to all NaNoWriMo participants, and to all other writers who continue to plug away without this sprint.

Poor Ole Secondary Characters

 Literature Blogs

As I was writing on my story this week, suddenly one of the secondary characters died.

Wait one minute! That wasn’t in the outline! Who was typing when that happened?

But then I thought to myself: total twist in the plot element. Cool. So I’m keeping him dead, poor guy. I just must take some think-time now to rework a few things, well, like the rest of the story, basically. Still, very cool.

Before this, I have intentionally gotten rid of characters, even main characters who didn’t serve any purpose except to give company to the main character. A parrot would have been more interesting. For me, taking out one of the major players was simply boring revision junk, to get rid of any sign the person existed.

Writing Challenge: Is each one of your characters essential to the plot? To the MC? Might a couple of them be combined, and still accomplish the same thing?

Poor ole secondary characters. Every last one of mine are now shaking in their paper boots.