8 tips to increase creativity and overcome writer’s block.
These are simple activities that I indulge when scenes, images, and plots do not manifest with alacrity in my comic book writing. For my prose as well. Hope it helps.
1) If you are stuck on a plot point or scene development: take the characters involved and run them through a fun, if not absurd, scenario in your head. It has no stakes or impact so you are free to let your imagination run wild without the fear of having to edit later. Have fun with it. Then, after you have done so, get back to the event you wish to put down on paper.
2) In relation to the point above, sometimes you must walk away from the keyboard. Take a walk. Exercise. Or find a way to relax and let your subconscious mind work it out. Sometimes, the problems are solved by not being the center of focus. That’s why we have things like a “Shower Epiphany”. You know, when the great ideas come to you while taking a shower.
3) Another aspect to the “Shower Epiphany” is the sensory exclusion of everything else but you, the warmth, and the constant smooth sound of falling water. Since we can’t sit in the shower and write, I am sure some people have the tech to do this but the pruning would be worrisome, there two things to mimic the sensory limitations: First, turn your bloody phone off and put it away somewhere that it would take effort to retrieve. Second, iso-rooms. Isolated room with no decoration, adornment, sound or anything but a desk for that matter. Local libraries have study room if you don’t have a small room to utilize in this manner. With no distractions and sensory deprivation, your mind must generate input. You can focus and direct this function by thinking of your writing problem. If you don’t believe me that the mind will generate sensory input, false as it is, go stare into a mirror for more than three minutes and see what happens. Or, stare at another person’s face for ten minutes and see what happens. Go sit in a dark, soundproof room for ten minutes and see what happens. You will hallucinate, but with writing, this can be harnessed.
4) Having a problem with a metaphor or image? Do association exercises. Example: Take a cup. What does a cup do? It holds liquids. What else holds liquids? Oceans, lakes, ponds, palms of hands, bladders, plastic bags with no holes in them…etc. You get the point. Now, you can reverse engineer. In this example, you have a character who is holding a cup and you want to develop this because it relates to the character’s inner turmoil. So, the cup can represent an obstacle. Perhaps the character was on a hunger strike or has a fear of accepting drinks they have not prepared themselves. Let’s go with this then- “She lifted the thin-rimmed teacup to her lips, but every sip, was a struggle like swimming across the salt burdened sea to a shore that falters in the horizon.” It is the association game. If you are not innately skilled at this, I recommend just doing the game regularly when among other activities. There are patterns everywhere.
5) Just work through it. Write some horrible, dumb, stupid, sentences and just keep going. You know why? Because we rewrite. In fact, rewriting probably takes more time than writing the first draft for some of us. Also, if it is the first draft, and you are having inspiration or flow obstacles, don’t worry. First drafts suck. The degree of the deplore depends but they do. I liken it sculpting with clay. First, you gather a mound of clay. The second draft is forming the clay into a recognizable figure but cutting away chunks. Third draft is to smooth out the features and creates fine details. Do as many drafts as you need to.
6) Do routine tasks differently to prime creative thoughts. If you eat with your right hand, try eating with your left. The point is to disrupt your routine. This break automatic approaches to tasks. Your neurons light up and are ready for novelty and our minds love novelty, so they get primed.
7) Emotional state dependent creation: Having a hard time getting that pathos to pour and the pain to emote from your protagonist? Listen to some music you know make you feel this way or invokes a memory of and event you can use. I can’t tell you what music to listen, but I wouldn’t listen to Mariah Carey if the character is to be in the emotional condition where they go on a murderous rage… unless hearing her music makes you feel that way.
8) Notice most of this is about relaxing and not getting too anxious about writing. There is a reason. Creativity can be stalled by worry, fear and anxiety. That twist of tense tension tortures us into freezing. When faced with fear, humans do a few things: fight, flee and freeze. The stress hormones don’t give a crap if the threat is imagined. They will do what they do and leave you blocked like you had eaten a wheel of cheddar the night before.
Relax. Writing is just about depicting a world through a series of false memories and conjured daydreams. Two other activities help me as well. First, reading. Go read a book, short story, or comic that is similar to what you are writing. Second, acting exercises. Pretend to be other people and look at the world or conflicts you are creating. You know, get a second opinion from yourself. Sounds a bit crazy but writing is the art of wrangling memory and madness in a way.
Hope it helps.
Joshua Lee Andrew Jones of Wayward Raven Media.
Imbalance occurs. Balance is restored.
Ars longa, vitae brevis.