This morning, I dragged an elephant around my neighborhood for roughly 2.3 miles.
Aka, I went on my morning walk. But it felt that way because I’d taken three (yes!) weeks off during the cold snap of the century (read: year). And it was Christmas.
I left the house brimming with vim. Five minutes later, as I tackled the first hill, I slowed to a crawl, my legs burning, huffing breath hard into my lungs. Not so pretty. But I kept going, despite the elephant I felt like I was dragging and finished my walk.
Tomorrow, it will be easier.
Then I sat down to write. Alas, the elephant was back! Because I’d also taken a hiatus from writing, and my writing muscles had atrophied too. Each word seemed laborious, as if an elephant had sat on my brain.
Maybe you’re there too. Sitting at the computer, trying to get back into the discipline and flow of writing only to feel like an elephant has sat on your brain. Wrenching words, and often bad ones, from your frozen creativity.
Keep going. See I know your writing muscles are stiff, but tomorrow will be easier. And eventually, the elephant will get up and start moving.
One day, it’ll nearly run you over with the energy to be set free.
But until then, here are five tips to get the elephant off its duff and at least ambling.
- Read for inspiration. When I’m stuck, I turn to stories that get my storytelling and wordsmithing juices simmering. It might be a favorite author, or someone new, but someone whose voice is intriguing, beautiful and inspires you. Just one chapter every morning…(but don’t forget to put the book DOWN and write your own book!)
- Give your characters a problem! Ask your POV: what is the worst thing that could happen to you, next? Often, we’re stuck because we’re bored. We’ve solved all the problems, and our characters are busy napping. Wake them up! Give them a new problem—make their worst fear happen. Or at least a piece of those fears. If you’re characters are sleeping, the you and your reader will too. Sleeping is bad.
- Give your characters an urgent need! Besides asking what they fear, ask them how they feel about what happened in the previous scene, and what they want right now. Their immediate need/desire. This sets up your goal. Then, grab their greatest fear from above and create an obstacle to that goal that produces that fear. Whalla—you have the basic ingredients for scene tension!
- Talk out your scene. I like to call my writing partner, but I’ve been known to talk to my dog, a nearby child, even bribe my husband with a cup of coffee (or dinner…) Just discussing the events of the scene helps spark ideas of dialogue and action.
- Use SHARP – or our Scene Starter trick to get the first line. Gather up your ingredients: What’s at Stake in the scene, your Hero/Heroine’s emotional state, the storyworld (or Anchoring) and finally, the problem they need to solve (and the problem they will end the scene with!) Once you figure these elements out, ask: What is my POV thinking right now? Could you use that thought, or some variation of it as the first line of the scene?
Now, you’re in POV, armed with inspiration and with a loose blueprint of what needs to happen, and you’re ready to write.
Let the words be bad. And if you’re slow, just keep wrestling them out. You’ll eventually pick up speed.
And tomorrow, like I said, it’ll be easier.
Have a great writing week! Your story matters—write something brilliant!
P.S. If you missed the Brilliant Year peptalk on how to create and plan a year that sets you free to write with joy,then you can watch the replay, for a limited time, here. And if you are looking for the planner we talked about, it’s on Amazon.
P.P.S. Struggling to get the story on the page? Need help shaping it? Want to polish your wordsmithing? Need career help? We’ll be talking about all these things, and more, at our annual Deep Thinker’s Retreat, Feb 23-27, in Destin, Florida. 5 spots left! Check it out here!