Saturday, April 4, 2009

because we blank out too

Every writer has experienced this: you have an idea, characters swimming around in your head, plots thickening in your blood, and conflicts flowing through your veins. You become completely inspired by every moment you've ever experienced, every person you've ever met, every story you've ever written or read.

And so, you plop yourself in your office chair, turn on your computer, open a new document, and take that first, delicious sip of coffee. You stare at the blinking screen and you type a letter. Any letter. It doesn't matter what letter. Why? Because you have no clue what the next letter will be. So, how are you going to write an entire story? What happened to all those characters? Where did the plot go? And the underlying plots? Those symbols you carefully chose to illustrate an immensely deep message?

"Maybe I should take a break," you say to yourself.

So you take another sip of coffee. And then you get up to stretch. You return to your desk and drink some more coffee. And more. And more. And more. It's done. The coffee is done, your screen saver is in full mode and your ideas are somewhere.

How do you combat this block? Is it simply because you're not supposed to write right now? Maybe, but probably not. These are some exercises I do to rejuvenate my thinking:

Fill in the blanks:

What I mean to say is ______
X character's conflict is _____ and their insecurity is _____which inhibits their goal of _____

I then list some really good verbs, verbs that carry the bulk of the sentence's meaning.

Solidify, multiply, unfold, recede, slink, permeate, generate, correlate, etc.

I then organize the characters I want to write about and under each name, I answer the following questions:
Where did this person come from?
What's the one memory that has a profound impact on them today?
What's their biggest insecurity?
What are their strengths?

That almost always gets me going, oils my brain, and fosters smooth movement. Characters, plots, symbols, and conflicts re-emerge, stronger and with more meaning.