The Creative Process: ideas to get you going when you’re stuck
There are so many interesting ways for writers to brainstorm and get our motors revved if we’re stalled or just need some fresh new ideas. Not all, but most of the below I’ve done on different occasions, and have been just the right thing to do for that moment. Others I intend to try for the fun of it
- I write an e-mail to my main crit partner. I will go on about all angles of the story that I’m having trouble with–and then I’ll find that I’ve come up with my answers! So I end up not sending the e-mail in a lot of cases. I’ve already answered my own questions.
- Sending that e-mail. Sometimes we definitely need that feedback from our online crit partners or others who might think in the same vein as we do.
- Have an in-person brainstorming session with fellow writers. The energy of everyone talking and building on ideas can turn out some fabulous concepts.
- Help crit partners brainstorm their books, and it might loosen the ideas in your own mind and get those creative juices going.
- I got the best idea to solve a problem for one of my future books from my teenage son. I told him what my weakness my beings needed, and he came up with something brilliant. Normally my family is no help at all, but sometimes they have gems. 🙂 Anyway, utilize those around you when you’re stuck. They just might have something perfect in response to your question.
- Astrology—give your characters birthdates and signs and have a little fun with it. How would your character’s personality as laid out by his or sign cause him or her to react in a certain situation?
- Index cards. Take a bunch of index cards and write down an idea on each card, in no particular order. Just keep jotting down anything that sparks in your mind. When you think you’re finished, you can even put them in an order that you don’t have to stick to. That’s actually called storyboarding, and a way some people outline. But it’s truly a method of brainstorming, too.
- Write ideas down on sticky notes in the same way as you would with the index cards, but arrange them a large surface, like a dry erase board, poster board, or foam-backed poster board.
- Collage. Here’s a fun one. Buy magazines that might relate to what it is you’re writing. Like fantasy or Wiccan magazines in my case. Or just general magazines, like People Magazine, etc. Then flip through them and cut out everything you think relates or has some significance in your story. OR find pictures on the internet and do the same thing!
- Also, some people make 3-D collages where they take actual things that relate to their books and arrange them in a group, a shadow box, etc. Sometimes just relaxing your mind by doing these things will free up your creativity.
- Graph paper and a timeline. This was an interesting one for me that I used for MOVING TARGET. I have a gigantic graph pad. I wrote a long line down the center and started putting ideas on it, as to what I thought should happen where. Or what could happen. And they helped throw out ideas to put on my timeline.
- Take a nap! This often works for me and is how I get some fabulous ideas. If I’m stuck, I’ll lie down, and in between that place of sleep and wakefulness, my mind relaxes and great ideas will come to me.
- Watching movies or reading books might spark ideas or a twist in your story you haven’t thought of.
- Tarot often gives authors creative ideas.
- Rifle through unfinished pieces to see if a character or plot line jumps out at you as ready.
- Write down the weirdest, most embarrassing moment of your life and imagine how a different person would have reacted to it.
- People watching. Go to the mall, a park, or other public places and watch people–how they interact with one another, if they’re hurried as if single-mindedly focused, or move slowly and pause to window shop. Imagine what kind of character they would make in a novel.
- Write letters to your characters. This is one I’ve heard a lot of writers say they’ve used. I haven’t, yet. But with the book I’m writing now, I just might!
- A suggestion from an author is to try Magnetic Poetry. Grab a handful and see what comes out. Sometimes just seeing a unique combination of words will spark an idea.
- Write down the last 10 books you read that you adored and analyze what you adored by them, and even what you might have done differently despite the fact you loved them. Also write a list of books that you hated and what you would have done differently.
- Some authors write scenes from another character’s perspective. When you get stuck, it might be because you’re not sure how a certain character is going to react. So in going back and revisiting an old scene, from their perspective, you could get a better peek into their head.
- Sims: my crit partner Anna Windsor uses these for her fantasies. She builds worlds from her imagination and it sparks ideas that get her ideas flowing.
- Handwrite a scene. It
- And even for those of you who resist it, write a bullet-point outline of a scene. Brief and just writing things you’d like to see in a scene.
For those of you writers, I hope these give you some ideas. Have some fun with it!