Friday, October 7, 2011

Finding Windows and Opening Doors

Hi Everyone!

Thank you for all your comments, supportive words and encouragement on my last post. It's great to know I'm not alone :)

If I haven't gotten around to your blog as yet, I promise you I'm on my way... apologies for taking so long, a few unexpected things cropped up over the last couple of days that I needed to deal with.

So let's review a few items that have been helpful when I've found myself in the "room with no windows". (If today's topic is new to you, please refer to Wednesday's post for a quick recap.)

There are two main stages to this phenomenon. One is the BEFORE, the other is the AFTER.

See below.

1) First Stage - The Creative Process

This is a great place to be. The ideas are flowing. Inspiration speeds towards you like a runaway train, you can barely keep up. This story is practically writing itself. Only one problem - it's all in your head.

Write it down
  • Grab that pen and paper and jot it down while it's still fresh in your mind. That way, when you sit down at your computer later, you've already got most of the groundwork complete.
  • If you have access to your computer and MS, get it in there.
No access to a pen and paper
  • Quite a few bloggers on Wednesday suggested using a recorder or dictaphone - awesome idea guys! I didn't even think of this one--thanks so much for this suggestion. Record it, listen back to it when you're ready to write.
  • Your cellphone or other favorite media device (obviously this only applies if you have one). I don't go anywhere without my phone. And phones nowadays have all sort of features. The simplest one? Open up a memo or notepad and type in your thoughts. Again, this will save you the grunt work for later.
  • None of the above? Try using a mnemonic technique. Create a memorable poem or think of a unique string of words that relate to your thought process. When you return to this phrase later, it can help restore you to the track you were on.
2) Second Stage - The Dark Room

You had no time to get those ideas down. The only tools at your disposal were your mind and a handful of possibilities that you dared to dream while you gazed out the train window or dropped the kids off at school.

Now it's (insert number) hours later, and those same brilliant ideas are no longer coherent... they're tangled up with one another in a disarray of colors, stray letters and clashing sentences. It just doesn't sound right anymore.

Your new problem? You're staring at a blank screen, your brain refusing to connect with your fingers.

Write Anyways
  • Just start writing. Whether it's good, bad, or complete garbage. Force those words onto the page. Sometimes it all just sorts itself out.
Recreate the Moment
  • Close your eyes and delve deep in the recesses of your mind. Mentally go back to that mindset that you were in when the ideas came to you. Oftentimes this helps to open the door and let words out.
Take a Short Break
  • Go for a walk, listen to some relaxing music, surf the web, read some blogs. Take deep breaths, clear your mind and refocus your energy.
Forget About It and Do Something Fun
  • Just leave it alone. Put it out of your head. We tend to put so much pressure on ourselves and these words that the strain is overwhelming. We freeze. Tense up. Turn off that screen and go do something (else) you genuinely enjoy - something that makes you feel light and happy, even downright giddy. Once that pressure is off, you will be amazed at how quickly the ideas return.
I just realized how long this post is (sorry guys!), but there we have it--what usually works for me. Try them all, and see what works for you. Anything you would like to add? Did I miss any? Please share!

Hope everyone has a wonderful, inspirational and creative weekend :)


Theresa Milstein said...

Spot-on advice. You have an excellent weekend too.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Excellent advice! Playing my guitar clears my mind for ideas.

Lydia Kang said...

The dark room is my secret to figuring out plot issues. These are great helpful hints!

Sarah Pearson said...

Some great tips here. The one I need to focus on is to forget about it for a while. I can never force anything, it has to take it's own sweet time :-)

Tasha Seegmiller said...

This is great advice. I'm just getting re-started on actively chasing the writing dream. Love what you had to share. Thanks!

Lindsay N. Currie said...

Great advice:) My writing process is just so bonkers, I never even try to put it into stages. If I did, you'd all think I was crazier than you already do LOL:)

Margaret said...

THese are perfect!

Raquel.Somatra said...

This advice is fantastic. "Write anyway" definitely works for me, even if I end up deleting it all, the act of writing will get the wheels turning.

I would add meditation and deep breathing techniques. I find that when I'm stuck, just exercises that clear my mind help things flow much easier.

Thanks for the amazing post. I needed this for sure!

Draven Ames said...

Great post, which I spotlighted on my blog yesterday. I love using a microphone, but a video camera is just as helpful. Sometimes, especially after a long shower, I grab whatever is nearby (paper or video camera) and record whatever my idea is. I don't want to lose them. Love the ideas here.


Ciara said...

Great suggestions. A hike always helps clear my head. I'm a new follow from Alex's blog.

The Happy Whisk said...

Happy Writing :-)

Michelle Teacress said...

That mnemonic technique is the only way I can remember something that's non-visual, and even then, they don't always stick.

Great suggestions!

Maeve Frazier said...

Excellent advice! Hope you had a great weekend!

Dawn Simon said...

Great advice! I went for a swim last weekend, and it helped me refocus.