Frankly, My Dear . . . : Where is My Creativity?
by Jacqueline Patterson @jacpatterson
From Molly Jo:
I met Jacqueline last year at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. Since then, she’s been highly active in the Firsts in Fiction podcast audience, and on social media. If you follow either of us (more her) on Twitter or Instagram, you’ll see what I mean. She’s my kind of person! Snarky, social, and steady. When asked what three things define our friendship, she responded, “Love of the written word/writing, laughter, and fun ideas/plans. Plus, we both like to cook!” I told her I was just thinking writing, faith and coffee, but I liked her answer better. So now we’re in a bit of competition to see who can come up with a better answer. Typical us. You’ll find us (hopefully) at this year’s BRMCWC, eating chili and keeping the neighbors awake with our caffeine-induced laughter.
Whether you’re a writer, a reader, or family member obligated to read this blog, we know you’re going to love her new monthly column on writing.
I growled at my laptop screen and [I swear it’s true] the laptop growled back. I had been laboring over my WIP [work in progress] for hours. Literal back-wrenching, misery-inflicting hours.
The characters I once loved were now dead . . . and bordering on stupid. Although [I’m going for complete honesty here] nothing could be more moronic than the storyline itself.
Somewhere in the process, I had lost touch with my creativity, and the story was suffering from my stubborn dedication to a plotline I knew in my heart of hearts was wrong.
I know, I know, we’re writers. We live writing and we breathe writing and there is no such thing as a break. But sometimes [Okay, a collective deep breath here], we need to step away. Give ourselves a chance to view our stories through fresh eyes.
Here are a few self-discoveries I found for reclaiming my creativity.
First of all, step out of your comfort zone.
Yes. You heard me right.
If you’re like me [it’s okay to admit it], there’s nothing scarier than shaking up your routine. You have your specific writing spot, your fixed writing time, your bossy writing quirks or whatever you’re holding on to.
Let it go.
- Shake things up. Is your story dead? Maybe you’ve settled for the wrong protagonist, and your characters are trying to let you know. Play around with POVs [Point of View], names and scenarios. I find when I try this that sometimes a new story is born out of the hodgepodge of ideas and I’m eager to get back to writing again.
- Try a new writing spot. Confession: I fought this for so long. But once I tried it, I found that it sharpened my senses and forced me to concentrate. Now I try a new writing spot every week, even if it’s simply a different seat in the same coffee shop.
- Start something new. Yes, you read that correctly. It’s okay to set your story aside and work on that project that’s been gnawing at the back of your mind. You’ll return to your WIP with fresh energy.
- Go back over your WIP. Is there a chance you mis-stepped and forced a scene that doesn’t belong in your story? Ask yourself if you’ve taken a wrong turn. Often, writer’s block is caused by something as simple as a misplaced sentence, or an unneeded character.
- Seek out what first inspired you to write this story. When did the idea for your WIP originally generate? Rewatch that movie, reread that book, revisit that spot. Reach back into the emotions of discovery. After all, you were the one chosen to write this story.
- Brainstorm with fellow writers. You’ll come away with the creative juices flowing, and a collision of ideas that will drive you back to the laptop.
- Take time to simply relax. You are not a writing robot. You can’t spend your entire life in front of a screen, churning out novels with mindless predictability. Go out and live this thing called life. Explore. Challenge yourself to new adventure.
This is not a game.
This is not a hobby.
This is your story . . . and your gift to the world. Allow yourself a moment to breathe and to find your story again. Step away so that you can return to your writing with open eyes and renewed creativity.
After all, we are creating stories that we hope will last forever.
Jacqueline Patterson wrote her first book at the age of five: the tale of an assassin hen on the trail of a crafty fox. (OK, so the story wasn’t that epic, but the hen was mean.) That first story hooked her, and she hasn’t stopped since. She is currently editing Primate, the first book in her Forever in Time series, in the hope of publication . . . If she can ever convince herself that she’s found the perfect draft. Talk to Jacqueline about books, and she will be your friend forever. You can connect with her on Twitter and Instagram.
And Frankly, My Dear . . . That’s all she wrote!