Ways to stay creative

I wish my creativity had a switch. I could turn it on when I have the time and energy to write. I could turn it off at 2AM when I’m trying to sleep but my characters are busy plotting out the rest of my book. I’m grateful for that, don’t think otherwise. I’d be a little more grateful if they’d do it during business hours. Or at least daylight hours.

So I’m constantly looking for ways to rejuvenate the creative juices. Here’s a list of things I use to restock the brainpan when it’s running a little low.

  1. Keep a notebook (or your phone) handy to jot down ideas as they come to you. Telling yourself you’ll remember it for later is a recipe for disaster and you don’t want to lose the perfect line of dialogue or the perfect description for your setting because you also had to remember to go to the grocery, sign the kid’s permission slip and pick up the dry cleaning after work.
  2. Free association writing. For a scene that’s giving you trouble, don’t think. Just write. Even if it’s not perfect, it’s words on the page. They can be edited or discarded as necessary but you may find a kernel of genius that you can then use to focus the scene and create something you do want to keep.
  3. I love the news, especially weird news. Some of these are just stories waiting to be turned into a scene in your book. Jot down ideas in the notebook from item #1.
  4. Brainstorm with a writing partner. A fresh perspective may be just what you need to spark the creative juices and get past a troubling scene or find a new twist for your story.
  5. Get physical. Exercise. Walk. Swim. Run. Bike. Do something that quite literally gets your brain pumping. Notice this list doesn’t include laundry, dishes or vacuuming. Those things suppress the creativity in my opinion (all the better reason to get someone else to do them!).
  6. Change tactics. Rather than write about your scene, go online or pull out a magazine and find pictures that make you think of the scene you’re writing. Maybe it’s a picture of a tree or the ocean or a hospital room. Maybe it’s a model that reminds you of the hero, heroine or villain.
  7. Closely associated with #6 is making a list. Focusing on the senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch) make a list of things that could be in your scene. Include anything you can think of because you won’t necessarily use them all. It’s a starting place for ways to add texture to a scene.
  8. Take a break. If you’ve been staring at the computer for hours, get up and move around or find another way to occupy your brain power for a little while. This may be where the laundry or dishes get done. See a movie. Read a book. Talk to a friend. Drink wine. Eat chocolate. (Do we really need an excuse for those last two?)
  9. Break the rules. Find a rule that applies to your genre or your market or yourself…and BREAK it. Maybe it will work, maybe it won’t but without taking a risk (another way to keep the creativity moving) you won’t know. For me, ending this list at #9 is going to drive me crazy. I’m analytical. A touch OCD. Lists should be in even numbers or numbers that make sense. Ten. Twelve. Five. (and those are out of order, I hope you noted) Nope. I’m going to stop at 9. I’m such a rebel.

Happy writing everyone!

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