One of the best things about writing is the way it surprises me, the way I sometimes look back on something I’ve written and think, “Did I write that?” This element of surprise reminds me that so much happens beyond our conscious state.
Here are several posts you might have missed that will inspire you to let go and find the story that lives in your subconscious.
In How to write in your sleep, I share some tips about using the power of sleep to find new revelations in your writing.
Read Trust in randomness and mine your subconscious with this writing exercise to see how you can use your subconscious and observational instincts to write a new poem or piece of flash fiction.
Become a prolific writer by harnessing creative flow offers tips to put yourself in a trance so you can immerse yourself in your writing world.
What is your favorite way to find creative flow?
“The impulse to create is like the impulse to breathe,” says author Rikki Ducornet, a contributor to the imaginative, playful book, Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fictionby Jeff VanderMeer.
Writing, she says, is a place to reclaim the initial impulses we are born with—to play and create and love—impulses that society tries to hammer out of us as we grow up. Our parents, and sometimes teachers, tell us to “be quiet and quit asking questions.” But as writers, we’re encouraged to ask questions and be curious. In fact, to be successful in our art we HAVE TO ask questions. Read more
Is there a short story you’re struggling to write? Sometimes, you have to let the story write itself. I generally like to have an outline of some sort before I start writing, but lately I’ve experimented by starting with a remnant of an idea, or a character, or even just one sentence or phrase.
I realized that with one of my stories, I was simply trying too hard. I was over thinking it. If you’re stuck, try letting go and having faith that your story will reveal itself.
Try these exercises to find your way into a short story:
1. Make a list of 60 first lines. Let the list sit for a few days or weeks. When you look at it again, see which ones resonate. Pick one and imagine the next line. Work on it a little very day, adding sentences and paragraphs. Some of the lines may never work into a story, others may inspire something new and you might find them taking you in new and unexpected directions. Read more
Earlier this month, bestselling fantasy author George R. R. Martin spoke at the Sydney Opera House on his series The Game of Thorns and the craft of writing. Below are a few highlights from Chris Jager’s article on Lifehacker.com.au.
Avoid fantasy cliches: “One of the things that drives me crazy is the externalization of evil, where evil comes from the “Dark Lord” who sits in his dark palace with his dark minions who all wear black and are very ugly.”
On writing “grey” characters–complex characters who are not all good or all evil: “We’re all grey and I think we all have the capacity in us to do heroic things and very selfish things. I think understanding that is how you create characters that really have some depth to them.”
Show grief but don’t overdo it: “Presenting not just death, but grief is important. We’ve all experienced the loss of our parents, or sibling, or close friend, and it’s a very powerful emotion.”
Check out the rest of the article to see what Martin has to say about POV, borrowing from history, and imagination.
A landscape painter friend asked me yesterday if I’d ever studied the work of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. My friend described how when he goes out into nature to paint, he enters a surreal state of mind in which time has no meaning and the sounds of cars on a nearby highway fade away.
I told him that my idea of a blissful writing session is to put myself into a trance and get into that same state of flow. If you’ve ever been there, you’ll know how amazing it is. The words just tumble out and time stops. I’ve tried to analyze what sets up those conditions by studying Csikszentmihalyi’s book Flow and reflecting on my own experiences.
Find a cue to alert your brain that you’re “going in.” This could be as simple as drinking a particular tea or coffee, playing the same favorite piece of music, or lighting a specific scented candle each time. Invoking these sensory triggers can help you find a way into your writing. If you repetitively do these things when you put your fingers to the keyboard or pen to paper, you can wire your brain to associate the two and prime your conscious and subconscious mind into a state of flow.
As writers, we train ourselves to be observant. We eavesdrop on conversations, notice our surroundings, and observe those around us. We become detectives for our art. We constantly make notes and file things away for later.
I try to always carry a small notebook or my iPhone with me for those times when I want to record something. My husband does too, but his notes usually consist of phone numbers or emails of business contacts he needs to call back. Once, when he couldn’t find a scrap of paper to write on, he grabbed a marker and the closest smooth surface he could find—which happened to be a spaghetti squash on our kitchen counter! (At least he didn’t write on the cupboard door, right?)
So, how do we organize our scraps of paper and spaghetti squash messages? Read more
Today is day 21 of National Novel Writing Month—the month where passionate writers the world over take the challenge to write a 50,000-word novel in a month.
If you’re a bit short or behind in your word count or wondering how you can possibly meet your goal, below are a few tips to help you increase your word count:
1. Write what’s hot. Don’t worry about writing your scenes in order. If you want to write that hot sex scene that comes after the climax of your book (pun intended), then go for it. Write the scene you’re passionate about now.
2. Flesh out earlier scenes. Review some of your earlier scenes. Does one lack details about the setting? Is one mostly dialogue with little sensory detail or description? Fill in the holes in some of your earlier scenes (as long as it doesn’t slow you down). Read more