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
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
As writers, almost every experience presents itself as good story material. Get pulled over for speeding? Take notes and see how you can use that drama in a story. Cut your finger off and need it reattached? Definitely take photos and notes for future reference. Aunt Mabel said something completely inappropriate at the Thanksgiving dinner table? Quick, mentally record all family reactions and dialogue.
Unfortunately, while some family members are naive about our writerly observations, others can be quite suspicious of all that scribbling we’re doing. I teach workshops and work one-on-one with people who want to write memoirs. One of my students’ big fears is what their families will think about their writing. Will mother be mad? Will grandma disown me? Will I lose access to a family member’s treasure trove of historical documents and artifacts?
It’s true that some of these fears may be legitimate. Others may not. Here are a few thoughts and ideas to consider if you’re concerned with what your relatives will think about your writing.
1. Write for yourself. It’s hard to be creative when you’re worried about what people will think. Tell yourself that you’ll examine the potential for conflict during the revisions. Read more
Every few months or so, I have to reorganize my writing life. Supposedly, I have one office for my home business and a second smaller office for my writing space.
Over time, what usually happens is that the business office becomes a dumping ground for everything that doesn’t have a home in another part of our house—boxes, mail, shipping materials, marketing materials, products, Halloween decorations, boxes that need to go to storage, etc.—and I end up working and writing in my writing room. Since this is the room with the view, so to speak, I don’t really mind but, after awhile, I’m overflowing with papers, files, and books…thus, the reorganizing. Read more