Ok, I recently had an email exchange with a friend about what I do when I get stuck in my writing.
Here’s some things that help me:
- Examine the reason you’re stuck.
Sometimes it’s some other little thing nagging at the back of your mind, and it’s something you need to deal with before your brain can get all creative and writerly. Personal example: If there’s a job around the house that I know needs to be done, sometimes that job will pop back into my head several times an hour, and I won’t be able to focus on writing until the job has been done.
- Read something creative/inspiring.
When I start a decent book, I usually can’t focus on writing until I finish it, but I’m a pretty fast reader and it never takes more than a few days. I always seem to have a few more good ideas after I finish something moving/passionate (think American revolution, not bodice-ripper)/ creative.
- Drill down story ideas.
Sometimes it helps to define what I’m going to write better and better until actual fiction starts coming out. For example, I might start with an idea: Corbin get’s kicked out of his apartment building. Then I drill it down â€“ Corbin finds his apartment ransacked, then he pisses of Andy, then he gets kicked out. I might expand on part of it like this: Corbin calls Andy a couple of names. Corbin ignores Andy’s command. Corbin spits in Andy’s face. Usually when I keep drilling it down like this, ideas for dialogue start forming. Maybe the sequence of events starts changing.
- Get good sleep.
I can’t focus on anything when I’m running (and writing) on fumes. Writing early morning and late night doesn’t make too much difference to me, as long as I’m not sleepy.
Even though I haven’t been in fantastic shape for a while, during periods of time where I’m exercising 10 or 15 minutes a day I feel better and think more clearly. Writing comes easier.
- Set deadlines and announce them to the world.
This is probably the only reason I ever finished Oasis. I told a bunch of folks that every Friday there would be a new chapter, and after that, I was pretty good. When I wasn’t, my real life friends gave me a hard time. Sometimes, I’ll just crank out something crappy based on my drilled down notes and hope inspiration hit during editing.
- Listen to some music.
Exciting classical music really get my brain turning over. When I’m writing, it usually doesn’t help me to listen to stuff with words, as my head just starts to sing along. Here’s some examples of the type of music I’m talking about:
- Carl Orff – Carmina Burana “O Fortuna” (download available here â€“ not my favorite version, but free)
- Camille Saint-Saens – Danse Macabre
- The classical version of the castlevania theme song (I’m a nerd)
- Aaron Copeland – Fanfare For the common man
- Gustav Holst – Mars: The Bringer of War (way down the page. They have lots of other fantastic recordings there, too.)
- Jeff Beal – He has a 4 part concerto called Things Unseen. I especially like 1 – Ghosts. http://www.jeffbeal.com/Pages/Concert%20Works.html
- Karl Jenkins – Palladio (That one from the diamond commercial) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9sluHJGcxek
What do you do when you get stuck?
p.s. Sorry about the delay on Chapter 2. I’m stuck, but not for creative reasons. It’s something else entirely. I’ll tell you folks all about it in about a month. I’m hoping to get back on schedule soon.