Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Wanna Go Play?
Writers at play. Not a sentence you read very much. Most writers are pretty single-minded working their way into stories in their own fashion, mostly a pretty straight-forward, sometimes grimly determined adventure.
See, writers have to discovery their stories and most don't value or even think about the process they use to get there. Because we write alone we develop our own work ethic. Don't have the nose to the grindstone, getting words on paper, then you're not working. Most of us go through this. Cover white space with black letters. The mark of your accomplishments.
But, in fact a writer needs to play just like anyone else, in some ways more than anyone else. Writers need not to simply allow themselves to play, but rather to order themselves to play. In several articles and posts in other places I've mentioned the idea of writers working with, developing and getting involved in new hobbies. It's one way to play. One way to let the mind wander enough so that it acknowledges new ideas and recognizes the path to the story the writer wants to create.
To touch off that creative spark within, we have to do things that are fun. Watch movies, work in the garden, read books (yes writers need to read - a lot), knit, create with beads, carve wood, ride a bike, go for a drive - something!
It's when you do something you enjoy when you engage the brain in other areas, that you'll discover the story you're about to write. That's when the pieces will come together, when it will make some kind of sense and you'll be ready to assemble the final product. Ever notice that great ideas may come to you while you're driving your car or riding a bike? That's because what you're doing is so automatic you allow your creative self to surge to the fore.
The same thing happens when you garden or carve or knit. What you're doing is so automatic tat the creative side of the brain is freed and ideas flow uninhibited. And since, well, it's a whole lot less dangerous to write an idea down when doing something that doesn't involve forward motion, engage the part of your brain that wants stuff to do with something you really enjoy and can about do blind-folded and free your creative brain to take flight with those ideas.
Enjoyment should be the writer's key for the period immediately before beginning a new novel. The amount of time dedicated to this pursuit is up to the individual writer and should be considered part of the 'work' to be done to get the juices flowing. Plainly we can't all just waltz off, go play, and not work for months at a time, so it's best to figure out a shorter, comfortable timeframe, then stick to it. Once you've reached the end of that time, dig in. Take all the bits and pieces of the puzzle you’ve jotted down and write your story.
Will everything flow with perfect rhythm after that? Probably not. But you'll have collected a lot of the bits and pieces you need to write your novel and when you hit a place where you’ stumped you won't panic as easily.
An that’s another key to the writer’s life. Don’t panic. Allowing yourself the freedom to have fun, to play, you create an environment that allows you to push through things like temporary writer’s block much more easily.
Stuck? Then allow yourself a play break. Go grub in the garden, grab your pen knife and whittle, knit, go for a drive (if driving relaxes you and gets the ideas flowing please stop the car to write down ideas and then continue on), whatever you use to relax, play and just have fun. Whatever you do, don't just beat your head against the wall determined you WILL break through. Give yourself a couple of hours or maybe a day away from the work.
Ideas will begin to flow, trust me on this. Make notes. When you return to your writing you’ll be amazed at how the new pieces you’ve created will fit. You’ll find the flow of solutions to your problems have become much smoother and clearer.