As a writer, I often have the hardest time creating a solid outline for whatever I am working on. For me, the initial idea isn’t the problem, it’s everything that comes after that. How do I get Character 1 from Point A to Point B, and what obstacles can I throw in their way that are both interesting and meaningful? Deconstructing books and movies that do this well with the diagram I posted yesterday will definitely help (see My Choice: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty post). But what about right now? What can you do to spark your imagination in this very moment?
There’s a technique I learned recently while studying for the teacher certification exam called “free-writing.” I’ve done similar activities to this, but none that really require you to push past your comfort point.
Here’s how it works:
1) Pick a topic to write about. Preferably something that has to do with your WIP.
2) Write as much as you possibly can. Let your ideas flow freely. Don’t worry about grammar or sentence structure, just get it all on paper.
3) When you can’t possibly write anymore, keep writing. About anything. Let the word association take you wherever it wants you to go.
Set a timer for yourself, say fifteen minutes, and do this every day before you work on your WIP. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Will all of your plot problems be solved in those fifteen minutes? No
Will you characters suddenly have perfect dialogue and backstory? Probably not.
Will your creative thinking process begin flowing, giving you fifteen minutes of different directions to start writing from? That’s the goal!
Free-writing is not meant to be a rough draft, so don’t try cleaning it up and making it a chapter of your work. It’s meant to stir up ideas, give you insight into possible plot points, jump start your brain so you don’t sit down to writer’s block.
Sure it will be hard, but the more often you do it, the easier it will be. So get started today and make your life as a writer easier.
[Follow me at @tclem91 on Twitter and I’ll follow you back as long as you don’t spam my PM folder.]