Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wednesday Writer's Block: Channelling the Muse

Writers are artists. The work we produce is subjective and comes from inspiration. But when you're on a deadline, you don't have time to wait for your muse to show up. There's a reason most career novelists can write a good book every year: they know how to channel their inspiration.

A Few Tips for Channelling The Muse:

Location. Write in a place that's free of major distractions. Background noise at a coffee shop or park can be beneficial, but you don't want the phone ringing off the hook or the dog begging for a walk.

Timing.Writing at the same time every day will train your brain to be creative on a regular schedule. Most writers don't have all day to reach their word count; they squeeze in a few hours of writing before work or after the kids have gone to bed. Writing on a regular schedule will cut down on the brainstorming or "warm up" time and will prevent hours spent staring blankly at a computer screen.

Think. This one seems pretty obvious, but it's easy to forget your story throughout the day. Most of the writing process is brainstorming, and what's great about brainstorming is you don't have to be in front of a computer to do it. While you're doing the laundry, commuting, sitting in a waiting room, think about your story and it's characters. Try to solve some of the plot problems or develop the characters in your head (it also helps to carry a small notebook). The more your story is in your head and the more problems you work out prior to sitting down at the computer, the easier the writing will come.

Read. I know a lot of writers who cannot read during the writing process, but for most of them, that only applies to fiction. Reading regularly will keep you accustomed to storytelling. If you are a crime writer, you may not be able to read crime fiction mid-manuscript, but you can read newspapers, magazines, and non-fiction books. For me, it helps to read in the genre I'm writing. It often acts as inspiration, but mostly I read to see how other writers handled similar situations. We'll often hit obstacles such as point of view shifts or backstory; it helps to see how other writers conquered the hurdles.

Some writers have their favorite chair or a lucky pen, but for me, these practical tips are enough to keep the creative juices flowing. What about you? How do you channel your muse?


Darwyn Jones said...

My only other addition to your great post is.... to prioritize. Yes, dishes need to be done, laundry needs to be washed, floors need to be swept... All that.

However, the book needs to be written.

It's funny how our muse sometimes is waiting patiently while we're checking off tasks from our chore list.

Quinn said...

I find that I do my best thinking / brainstorming when I'm washing up after exercising. I don't know if the exertion clears my mind, or if it's an endorphin rush, or what, but this is when it's easiest for me to connect the more disparate elements of whatever I'm writing and think of endings. I'd definitely recommend it; after all, exercise is good for you anyway.