Thursday, March 12, 2009

Finding Words

I've been on a bit of a slow slide downhill lately regarding my writing. We authors live and breathe by our creativity. It is not something you can see, feel or hear. It exists inside our skulls, it flows through our veins, and at times, it can be elusive. I'm sure my friends are tired of me asking them for 'words'. You see, I have an 80K novel due at the beginning of May and I'm 25K words short. It's not writer's block, it is simply stifled creativity.

So I've been looking at how I get the creativity flowing lately, which then results in 'more words'. This can apply to any creative project, not just writing, even business stuff because there is a spark of creativity in all that we do. Usually when a project refuses to budge for me I'll set it aside for a week or more, if I can. (Current 25K-lacking project has been sitting two weeks.) Sometimes if I pick up a new project that I haven't been staring at for six hours a day, seven days a week, it's as if a butterfly opens its wings inside my head. Ah! There it is again. That part of me that sparkles and sings.

I don't have a real hobby (though my son once termed my writing a 'hobby'; I don't recall him being fed that day AT ALL). I like to color, yes color. I find an afternoon of artistic play gets my brain humming and often I'll end up with a few notes scribbled in colored marker to be used when I find myself behind the computer again. I do play guitar, and music always takes me to a creative private place, though I haven't touched it much lately. Hmm...

For writing, and starting new projects, I have a trick to get the creative ideas going. I was recently asked to come up with a proposal for a story in two days. It may sound easy to write four pages detailing a world and its inhabitants, but trust me, it's a challenge. So when I've no idea where to start, I use pictures and especially artwork to stir the embers. Take a look at this cool pic I found at

What kind of guy do you think he is? Good? Bad? A little of both? The moment I saw him I knew he had to be my villain, but not necessarily a bad guy. Visuals help me to tell stories, so I always tend to have pictures of my hero and heroine on the desktop. After over an hour of combing this fantasy art sight, I had the plot for a new story in mind.

Music is another creativity booster. I can't listen to music while I'm writing, but let me tell you, there's nothing like a drive in the car with the stereo blasting. Man, do I get ideas that way. Anyone else work that way?

Fiction is good, as long as it's not in the genre I'm writing. And magazines are awesome. I can't get through a magazine without tearing out a page with a picture of furniture, a car, a person, or clothing or a landscape. And don't get me started on movies; we all know how images on the screen, even a few seconds, can fix into our psyches and influence us.

I think whether you are a writer or not, we all incorporate some tricks to boost our creativity/productivity in our daily lives. It may be that brisk lemon soap you use in the shower every morning, or the re-run episode of NYPD you have to watch before you do the household bills.

I'm interested in hearing what you all do to 'find your words'. Or in other words, how do you get your creativity flowing?


Y'all come back tomorrow for another Follower Friday featuring Follower Amy!


lois greiman said...

Hey, Hauf, I want to let everyone know that when you say your creativity is blocked, you mean you’re only writing…what…maybe 20 pages a day instead of your usual 8 million!! Believe me, folks, Michele is a writing machine! When I’m really stuck I make some kind of asinine bet with her to see who can crank out the most pages a day. I think I topped out at about 74. What’s your max, M? Come on, ‘fess up.

As for me, I have a book due April 1st, so things are feeling a little tight. And MY best creativity booster is long walks in the park. But it’s so #%&@ cold here I think my muse is off nursing frostbite. So I guess I’ll just have to sit my butt in the chair and soldier on without her. Unless you want to make some kind of wager for chocolate, Hauf. :)

AuthorM said...

Hmmm. I listen to music or watch a movie -- or go to sleep. I think I sleep more when I need inspiration.

I loooove that picture you posted and can't wait to see the story you come up with for it!


Cindy Gerard said...

great post, Michelle
Music and vanilla candles are my standby muse lures. Can't work without both.
But, my usual best bet is to go back to the book. Start from page one and read and reread - I generally find what I need within the work that can propel me to that new scene I need and sometimes to the scene I don't need.
Good luck!!

Michele Hauf said...

Greiman has thrown down the chocolate guantlet! What say you, Lois? 10K words next week?

Sleep! How I do enjoy my creative sleep. Naps are good and yes, they do get the creativity buzzing.

Vanilla candles sound too delicious not to try. Never thought of stimulating my sense of smell for creativity. Hmm... I think the best I can do right now is a pumpkin spice candle which may put me in the Halloween mood, but that should work for paranormal. ;-)

Christie Ridgway said...

Blogger is eating my comments! Hope this doesn't come through twice.

Anything mindless helps with the creative flow: looking through magazine, driving, walking. Not trying to force the issue.

Another one I use is to get out a piece of paper and a favorite pen. Then I write words having to do with the project randomly on the page. The things I know, like "cop," "TV star," "shaggy dog." Doodling them. Then other words will come to me, pieces of info that I mine out of the subconscious which has been working in the background.

Helen Brenna said...

Music, movies, sleep, candles. Have used them all. I like to put on perfume sometimes before I head to my computer. My dh always asks, "Going somewhere today?" lol

Jewelry helps me sometimes too. Know that sounds odd, but for a while I was buying a bracelet for each book - something that I could see helped focus it for me. Then wearing it at my desk, listening it to it clank or tinkle, helped somehow.

Somehow that's sounding like an excuse. lol

Michele and Lois - you go girls! I'm staying out of your line of fire. There's nothing that'll stifle my creativity more than the kind of pressure that comes from a bet or other external deadline. I was scared to death of contract deadlines when I first sold, but I'm, so far, managing those.

I'm curious to hear what everyone else has to say. I could use a bit of this refilling myself these days.

Kylie said...

74 pages????? Please, Lois, I'm begging could put me over the top of this blasted book if you'd just come write 74 pp for me. And if you could do it before I leave for the Dominican Sat. that'd be cool!

I like to plot on the treadmill. Or walking the bike path. I need silence, so it can't be at the Y or Curves. Usually I watch movies on the treadmill but when I have a looming deadline I walk in silence. And try to untangle the threads of the plot. It always works. Always.

As for the proposal in 4 days. . .I don't have to deal with your world building, Michele, so completely different situation. It wouldn't be the proposal that would stump me. It would be sticking to it when it actually came time to write the dang book!

Keri Ford said...

BETBETBET!!! Nothing gets the juices flowing like bragging rights!

Different things work for me. Often times I'll take a couple days to just read for pleasure. Getting back to what got me into writing stirs ideas.

And hey, insomnia does have benefits. In one night of restlessness I figured out the highpoints for my last act!

Michele Hauf said...

Christie, that's a cool idea to write words that come to you. Will give it a go.

I hear you on sticking to the proposal, Kylie. I always think of proposal (before you've written a word of the story) as The Idea Of How The Story Might Go But Probably Won't But You Wanted A Synopsis So Here It Is: All Content Subject To Change. I mean, seriously, I can't know how the danged thing will end until I actually get there.

Hee, Helen, are you sure you don't want in on some of the chocolate action?

lois greiman said...

Oh come on Hauf, you could do more than 10K in a week!! As for me, howevvvvvver, I'm on draft three. Three!! Isn't it supposed to start to sound charming by draft THREE???
I'll bet you though that I willlll turn in this piece of...this lovely piece of fiction by March 31st. It's do or die time.

lois greiman said...

Kylie, believe me, you wouldn't want annnny of my words right now. They're all expletives. :)

lois greiman said...

Kylie, believe me, you wouldn't want annnny of my words right now. They're all expletives. :)

Michele Hauf said...

Well how many pages is 10K? Digging out calculator... Oh. Only 40 pages. Yeah, I could do more. If I was inspired. SHould we go for 80?

lois greiman said...

You do 80 by March 20th. I'll edit 250 pages by the same time. If one of us doesn't reach her goal she buys the other dinner. If we both do we get husband money to go out together. :)

Helen Brenna said...

That sounds like a challenge! Glad I've dodged it!

Shelley Munro said...

I do some of my best thinking when I'm in the shower or walking the dog. I just let my mind wander and by the time I'm ready to write the words come spilling out. Not 40 pages though!

Michele Hauf said...

Wait. 80 pages of new words doesn't work against 250 edited, already typed pages. But I'll do it anyway. But I like the idea of sending our husbands out together. Hee.

I need until the 21st.