Monday, March 4, 2019

After You Put Down the Pen

Writers, every second of every day you make choices that either contribute to the survival of your main characters or decisions that slowly deteriorate them. Bet you’ve never thought about it this way before. How you live your life—what you do after you put down the pen has great implications for what plays out on the page. Another way to frame this is to consider the most effective ways to avoid the proverbial writer’s block.

Here are ten things you can do to ensure you are giving you’re all when you create your characters and draft that future bestselling novel.

Step Away from Social Media Wars
They will suck you in, toy with your emotions, tempt you to comment, then delete, then comment again. Don’t be persuaded or seduced by these Twitter rants, the Facebook vents, and the article comments that rouse your impulses. Your time is far better spent nailing down your main character’s greatest fear. Or contemplating their weak spots in order to create that perfect ending.

Go to Bed
Umpteen thousand studies have proven the benefits of a good night’s sleep. This spills over to who we write. Our characters thrive when we thrive. They chase the rabbit down that trail when we’re going on two hours of sleep, blinking to stay awake as the screen blurs in front of us. Sleep. It does a body and characters good.

Pour Water on Negative Thoughts
Negativity. Lies. Complaints. When it comes to writing, negativity in us can transform quickly into nesting dolls. Our yucky thoughts become our main character’s messed up thoughts, which may not adequately represent them. Work hard not to let negative thinking get out of hand. Like the Wicked Witch, throw a bucket of water on them and melt those suckers to the ground.

Don’t Compare Their Green Grass to Your Brittle Brown
Comparison has a way of stifling creativity like nothing else. Don’t entertain trap thoughts. They got a four book deal. They won an award. They got an agent. They write six books a year. Blah. Blah. Blah. Every writer is tackling their career with a unique slant. Joys and hardships come to us all. By the way, your grass isn’t brittle brown. It’s wheat and it’s beautiful.

Remain Engaged
I get it, this world can be pretty overwhelming at times. I watched a documentary last night that had the potential to slay me for a week. Here’s the thing, we need to tap out every so often. To recharge and forget the world for a while. But then come back and invest in conversation. Listen to dialogue out in public. Ask questions. This will bleed over into the lives of your characters, adding a more authentic voice to your work.

Reflect and Hold Yourself Accountable
The more self-aware you are, the better you’ll be able to understand what’s going on with your main character. Why are they so amped up, and how does it relate to something you’ve been struggling with? Limit the things in your life that drag you down, that squelch your creativity. Be ruthlessly honest for the sake of your MC’s survival.

Study Up on Psychology
Psychology is gold for any writer. Because it opens up the world of motivation and weakness and temptation and hope and loss. Understanding the whys behind actions and emotions for existing people will do wonders to help your characters exist.

Create a Soundtrack
Oh, music. It feeds the soul. Coordinate a list of songs that encapsulate your novel, the arc of growth your character goes through. Have fun with this one.

Read a Book Your Character Would Enjoy (Research)
Invest in what your characters are interested in. Writing a comp to Silence of the Lambs? Buy a book on butterflies. Main character is a teenager? Get excited about reading YA. Expand your horizon by sharing a vested interest with your character. Never know what you’ll learn.

Let Your Imagination Go Wild
Things can feel limiting when we’re unknowingly placing restrictions on ourselves. There is no one right way to go about crafting a book or fleshing out a main character. Step out of the box on this one. Dress up. Act out scenes. Attend a renaissance festival as your character. Beatbox with the best of them. Write a letter to all your secondary characters in the voice of your MC. Get in the car with no destination in mind and see where your MC takes you. We only limit ourselves. The potential is out there. We just need to remain open to finding it.

Writer’s block can be short-lived or nonexistent. We have tools and resources already available to us. Our characters are depending on our ability to be resourceful. To uncap the nesting dolls of negativity, to sleep, and to sing a new song at the top of our lungs.

Our books and main characters could become so much more if we would only get out of our own way, and give them the space and freedom to do so.

*be back next Monday, March 18th


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