A writer’s brain is a tornado of thoughts. Some scenes and stories remain trapped in the vortex, while other bits of dialogue and character details fling out at unpredictable times.
When I first began writing, I devoured article after article recommending strategies to summon the writing fairies. The little winged wonders would only hover above the page, dropping words there if I graphed, plotted, and performed any other myriad of detailed steps. These time prescribed strategies didn’t fit me. I don’t think in a straight line. I think in a combination of frolicking sideways leaps, forward bounds, and pirouettes.
I’m learning about my own creative process. Part of that journey is changing my mindset. Scenes, characters, scenarios, and plot solutions already reside in my imagination. I’ve released myself from the burden of constructing them because they already exist in some rudimentary form. For me, the real question is how to release them onto paper.
Living a character’s experience or listening to music that matches the tone of a character or scene can get the ball rolling. Some ideas come like bolts of lightning when I am not thinking about writing at all. I also carry a small notepad or a digital recorder where ever I go. If I don’t scribble ideas on paper or store them on a gadget , other thoughts — new ones — jump into their place. Ideas not captured will elude me when pen meets paper or fingers meet keyboard.
I also go to the gym — to access creativity.
When ideas started coming to me during 30 minutes on the elliptical machine, I forgot most of them between stretching and the sauna. I began the habit of tearing a length of paper towel from the dispenser at the gym and borrowing pen from the office. I wrote plots for short stories, built back stories for characters and outlined blog posts. When this became routine, I started equipping myself in advance with a pencil and a folded sheet of lined paper. I bind them to my water bottle with an elastic band.
It is the meditative nature of the exercise that relaxes my mind and lets the thoughts flow. I never plan in advance of what I’ll think about. I relax and let come what may.
When I first began this journey into writing, I was so anxious to “get it right”. In retrospect, I would say that over studying how to begin writing became paralyzing instead of motivating. Process is personal and individual. I wouldn’t like to add to cacophony of advice — only to share what works for me. It’s never good to be pulled in too many directions.
March 4, 2014 at 8:07 am
What great photos! I was just reading a chapter in The Artist’s Way last night about exactly this subject – that the work that one wants to do already “exists” and simply needs to be allowed to come out. Michelangelo himself spoke of releasing his sculptures from the marble.
I am not a writer, but when I used to train seriously as a marathon runner I would often find poems emerging as I ran. I could never remember them by the time I returned home though! I have a little journal that I keep in my purse and make little sketches in when an idea comes up.
March 6, 2014 at 7:52 am
I am loving the image of Michelangelo sitting before a mass of raw marble, waiting for the images to step forward.
It’s funny how those thoughts that break through the surface can so easily slip below the surface again. I try to reassure myself that another idea will be following closely behind. The best solution really is that journal and pencil that are never far away. Thanks Stephanie.
March 4, 2014 at 9:56 pm
Wonderful post. Yes, in the end we’ve got to follow our own muse:) Fantastic photos!
March 6, 2014 at 8:00 am
Thanks for the comment, Carol.
I did enjoy searching out the photos. My gym has treadmills that are manual and I can tell you they are hard work. The belts are not driven by electricity. I can’t imagine walking on a belt made of smooth wooden slats in kitten heels and leather soles.
March 8, 2014 at 10:46 am
Great photos! Wonderful post! Allowing someone to advise you on how to write is akin to letting someone tell you how to raise your children. We each approach writing from a different angle, seen in many different lights, from where we sit – that’s what makes reading the written word so magical!
I don’t leave the house without something on which to write.
March 11, 2014 at 2:27 pm
Thank you for writing. I certainly appreciate your comments and witty observations:)