February already. Time flies, discipline has gone the way of those New Years’ resolutions. Getting back into a routine is hard, getting motivated is harder.
Writing suddenly becomes frustrating and inspiration elusive. What to do? Waiting for a divine intervention, or for a muse to return from vacation, is not the answer if your pen has gone dry.
It might be wise to accept that not everything that glows on the screen is gold. Just like athletes train, writers need to practice. While waiting for the perfect story to emerge, many writers turn to prompts and countless sites exist that will offer suggestions and story ideas.
Writing professors discuss perspective or point of view, asking students to write a fairy tale from the antagonist’s point of view, as an exercise.
The successful Broadway show, ‘Wicked,’ is an excellent example of a well-known story, ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ told in reverse, relating the same story, but through the eyes of the witches. Turning the camera around changes the story, but not necessary the ending. Jack the Ripper felt justified in murdering prostitutes. He was not the villain in his own life and as writers, we need to shift our lens and ask ourselves, without sarcasm, ‘what was he thinking?’ Taking an old story, and writing it through another character, is a time-old technique, and it works.
Writing scenes or vignettes can be a useful exercise when the juices aren’t flowing. Creating a one-page snapshot that captures a moment in time, helps develop skills in setting tone and building characters. This exercise does not need the usual inclusion of crises or resolution—it’s not going anywhere. It may show up in a story at a later date or be pivotal in unlocking a plot hiding in your imagination.
Journaling is a far cry from writing in a diary. Recording conversations and unusual combinations of words can stimulate a thought process that can get creativity moving. Mine was once bulging with newspaper clippings, intriguing stories with faceless characters I turned into three dimensional people, caught in bizarre situations.
The importance of scheduled writing can’t be overstated. Writer’s block? I don’t believe it. .
Jade is the Senior Story Editor for Page & Spine.