Posts Tagged ‘the artists way’

Every time I hear any promise of alleviation when it comes to writer’s block, I am immediately overcome with excitement, determined I have found the cure. Each and every time this happens, I am disappointed to find that I have not, in fact, discovered a groundbreaking tactic for overcoming the dreaded writer’s block. Some are more helpful than others, but when you find a technique that improves your writing or motivation, that’s a win in my book.

In a recent post, I explained the dynamics of writer’s block and other struggles that we, as writers, face. Well, I’m here to offer you a solution. Okay, there is no solution for writer’s block… But sitting around waiting for inspiration is for the weak! Go find inspiration, don’t wait for it to come to you. This post will help you learn to generate your own inspiration; it will give you new ideas, improve the ones you have, and eliminate the ones you don’t need.

The technique I am going to share with you all is inspired by two parts. One is a great post I stumbled upon called Squirrels and Killing My Inner Editor. Give this post a read, because it’s awesome. The writer of this post shared a tool that she found to be useful.

This wonderful tool is called Scrawl. Once you open Scrawl, you’ll be faced with a message telling you to “write something!” Scrawl encourages unfiltered writing; it allows you to set a writing timer, and if you stop typing for ___ amount of seconds, Scrawl will, ahem, redirect your attention back to your writing (read: make sure your volume is set to a level that won’t burst your eardrums.) You can also instruct Scrawl to keep you from deleting anything you’ve written. Explore the options, see what is most helpful to you.

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In writing my morning pages as Julia Cameron instructs, I have discovered how helpful unfiltered writing can be. Essentially as I’m writing, I’m just thinking out loud. I was facing a bad case of writer’s block working while working on my novel, so I turned to my morning pages. I had a conversation with the journal. I bounced ideas off of the journal. It was a huge help. Sometimes just thinking about it isn’t enough, but trying to formally organize your plot is a little too overwhelming. As you’re writing it, you will probably feel as if you’re accomplishing nothing, but give it time.

I find it most beneficial to begin with the absolute basics of your story. Start with a less details. As you ease into the part of the story that you’re stuck on, start giving more details. Every possible path the story could take, write it down. For example: your main character has just been offered a job in New York City to work for a fashion magazine. Does she give in to her controlling boyfriend’s urging and stay in rural Oklahoma? Does she break up with him and accept her dream job? If she stays in Oklahoma, will their relationship even last? If she moves to New York, will she find love in the city? Will her dream job turn out to be a nightmare, leaving her wondering why she ever left her hometown? How would each of these outcomes play out? How would they affect your story? Write it all down. It may seem redundant, but you never know what will inspire you, so try not to take shortcuts. If it would be more beneficial for you to draw instead of, or in addition to writing, I don’t see any reason why you can’t. Doodle away! Finish out your 3 daily morning pages, and then look back over them. It should look a little bit like this:

So I’m stuck figuring out where my main character, Peter Parker, is going to turn now. Now that he’s been bitten by a mutated turtle, he might not be able to run as fast as before. Maybe I should change it to a more lethal, intimidating animal. What about a raccoon? That could work. Peter gets rabies and turns into a raccoon. Hmm.. There has to be something better. If I was Mary Jane Watson, I totally wouldn’t be cool with my boyfriend turning into a raccoon. What about a spider? A radioactive spider. That’s it! Peter Parker by day, Spider-Man by night!

It doesn’t have to be neat. It doesn’t have to have correct spelling or proper punctuation. I encourage you to write in pen, so you’re not tempted to erase. Don’t over-think this! My reason for incorporating Scrawl into this post, is for those of you who would prefer to type your morning pages, as opposed to writing them in a journal. It’s up to you. Scrawl is a really useful resource regardless, don’t limit yourself to using it only for this exercise.

Side note: The website where you can find Scrawl has some other helpful tools. Know Thyself is a character building exercise; the computer asks you a series of rapid fire questions about your characters; answer as fast as you can. When you complete the questions, the website compiles a character profile from your answers. Even if you think you know your characters inside and out, it really makes you think. Try it out!


 

To anyone who has previously used these methods, or decides to try it after reading this post, let me know what you think. Is there something else that works better for you? Don’t hesitate to share! I’m sure I am not the only one who wants to collect as many tips and tricks as possible. Thanks for reading!

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Last summer, I started a book called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Nikki Sixx, who is the bass player for the rock band Motley Crue recommended this book on his radio show, SixxSense. Nikki Sixx was a contributing writer for a lot of Motley Crue‘s music, he is an avid photographer, has written two books (The Heroin Diaries and This is Gonna Hurt), has a side music project, Sixx:A.M., and hosts his own radio show. He spoke so highly of the book, and what it did for his creative process, so I decided to check it out.

This book isn’t a novel, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it a how-to book either. It takes you through a journey to bettering your creativity. I began this book and really enjoyed it. I started working through the activities and implementing the tips. At first I thought it sounded kind of hokey, but it really works. It’s just something you have to try for yourself – which I don’t think you would regret doing.

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I’ll just be honest; I didn’t finish the book. I started it, and got really into it, but soon enough, it faded and I moved on to something else. (If you know me personally, you know how often I do this.)

While I was still reading Julia Cameron’s book, I discovered a practice that I really enjoyed doing, that I felt really did help me creatively. I give you, The Morning Pages.

The idea behind The Morning Pages is to write 3 pages every morning of unfiltered, unedited, stream-of-consciousness writing. It can be about anything you want. However, your Morning Pages are never to be re-read after you write them. This exercise helps you to stop unnecessarily criticizing your work. It allows you to write whatever is on your mind. It helps you to transfer what’s in your mind, effectively to paper. I often have difficulties with that; by the time I’ve edited my though, implemented correct syntax, and spiced up the vocabulary a bit, it doesn’t convey the original thought the way I want it to.

I’m not going to post my morning pages to this blog, but I will update you with how they’re going (3 pages of unedited nothingness? I highly doubt you would enjoy reading that). If any of you have read this book, let me know what you think. And if any of you decide that you want to make morning pages a part of your daily routine, tell me how it’s going for you!