I’ve been working on a children’s story off and on and find that I stop when I get stuck about where to take my character next. A post last week by Seth Godin, Exhaustive lists as a reliable tool for unstucking yourself, made me think of how I could use his technique to figure out where my character needs to go next in his quest. Thanks Seth!
Here are my examples of exhaustive lists to make when I’m stuck on a writing project.
- All the possible names I could name each of my characters.
- Every type of trouble I could inflict on a particular character.
- Every source of help my character might seek to get out of trouble.
- Every publisher that might be a fit for my story.
- Book titles that would pique readers’ interest.
- Editors or agents who might want to represent my work.
- Out of-the-ordinary ways to market my story.
- Publishing options from traditional to non-traditional.
The idea is to go crazy. List everything. Then team up with another writer friend and share your ideas. Together you’ll likely build even more crazy good ideas to push your writerly self forward.
Godin says that going beyond the obvious is where innovation lies.
I’ve always called my writing space, my “writing room.” This room is where I have three bookshelves crammed with books, my table with my computer and office supplies, and my chair and file cabinet. But inspired by this post from Seth Godin, I’ve decided to call my writing room my “writing lab.”
We work either at a lab or a factory, Godin says. People who work in labs are searching for breakthroughs at the risk of making mistakes because making failures helps us learn what works, he says.
Factories are all about churning things out – Twinkies, car parts, widgets – in the most efficient possible way. Read more
Want more big ideas? Turn off your phone and let your mind wander. Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project and Happy at Home, has a rule for herself when she’s traveling from one place to another, whether it’s by foot, taxi, or subway. She turns off her phone. No checking e-mail, texting, surfing the web, or talking.
In an interview with author Daniel Pink, Rubin said she used to force herself to check e-mail in an effort to be more efficient.
“Then I thought back on my life as a writer,” she said. “Every time I had a major idea that made me write a book about a subject or led to a year-long obsession, I was walking, on a bus, or on a subway.” Read more