Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Kick Start Your Imagination

So you've sat down at your desk, picked up a pen, turned on the computer, dusted off the type writer, cut the throat of a chicken or otherwise prepared your writing tools. You're ready, you're willing. You want this, you need this, oh baby, oh baby.

It's time to write.

And you sit there. And you sit there. Nothing happens.


So you want to create but the White Queen has come and turned your Brain-Narnia into a frozen wasteland. There's no sun, no warmth, no growth and no Christmas. So what are you going to do? Well, here's a few tips.

Listen to music

Hardly a secret. Everybody says listen to music. But that's because it works. Music stimulates us, gets our minds going. Music can be like dropping acid on our imagination and sounds become images become stories become inspiration. So choose some tunes and let it happen. For some people, any music will do. Just that addition of sound to their work space gets them going. For some, it's got to be classical music. Classical music is the smart man's music. Classical does you well. I've known writers who choose music that suits what they want to write. Fast, energetic music for action, somber and slow for drama. Film soundtracks are excellent for this. There's also many musicians who offer their music for free online for personal use. Finally, some writers, like myself, will choose music that their POV character would enjoy. What do you think your character would listen to? What artists? What genres? Use music to get a little deeper into that POV and think like your character.

Take a shower

It is well documented that we have some of our deepest, most inspired and most creative thoughts while we're showering. Can't seem to get the creativity turned on? Go jump under the water for a little while, stand and reflect, think and imagine. The shower is a great environment for meditation and it might be what you need to put yourself in the right frame of mind for creating.

Punch the keys, for God's sake

I hope you read that in a Sean Connery voice. If not, for shame. Anyway. If you just can't get the next sentence started on your work in progress, try opening up a new file or turning to a blank page and hit the keys. Start just by hitting keys, then make words, any words. You can type your thoughts, or type all the words you know in alphabetical order. I like to free style some kind of brief narrative, just putting one event after the other no matter how they connect (or don't, as is often the case.) We're not trying to create art here, we're just getting the hands moving. It's purely physical. Once your body is warmed up and you've got your attention where it should be, turn back to your project and keep the fingers in motion.

Read a book, watch a movie

Somewhere in our life, we decided we wanted to write. I would bet that it happened for you in a similar way to me. You watched a movie or a TV show or read a book or a comic or saw a stage show and you said, "Damn, I want to create that." This trick for kick starting your imagination is all about feeling. Dig out one of your favourite stories - in whatever form that takes. Watch/read for a little while, until you get inspiration. Find that feeling that made you want to write in the first place. For my money, I like to watch 'Terminator 2' because damn. Dayum. I watch that movie and I say "Why am I sitting here? I want to make a story that good! I want to give somebody the same kind of experience Mr Cameron just gave me!" Again, you want something that will inspire an emotion, not an idea.

Brain Storm

Or maybe what you need is ideas. Maybe your work is at a dead end and that's why you don't know how to get writing again. So start writing down ideas for what could happen next. Anything. No, really, anything. Begin with something like "the world explodes," or, "Main character wakes up and finds he is a cockroach," or absolutely anything else and if that ideas doesn't quite suit you, go onto the next one. Eventually you'll get past the absurd and you'll be writing down implausible ideas, and boring ideas, then possible ideas and if you write down your ideas for long enough, you'll eventually write down THE BEST DAMN IDEA YOU EVER DID SEE THERE, BOY.

Your mileage will vary. Some methods will work for you, others will not. Give them all a try at least once, see what gets you going. If none of these are your cup of tea, trust me, there's plenty more for you. You'll find something.

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