Sunday, July 11, 2010

Don't Wait For Inspiration. . .Wake Up The Muse

Writing is a creative, active and developing process. Definitely not static. What do you do when The Muse is on strike?
Some writers say they're having a "dry spell" or "writer's block." I'm fortunate in that I've never experienced this state of inertia in my writing. Other areas of my life, yes...but I can always write my way out of it.
About a year ago, two of my friends and I were at a place where we needed fresh fuel for the creative furnace. We made a list of story prompts and gave it a couple of hours to gel. Then we got back together online to share our efforts. The amazing thing is that two of us chose the same prompt but came up with entirely different scenarios. My fellow writer, Carol DeVaney and I went on to develop our respective stories into full grown manuscripts. The important thing is that we were both open to the challenge and willing to be enthused. I call this my "Yes! Attitude". I am willing to be drawn in, to take on new challenges, to take risks. I'm willing to jump in the lagoon without knowing all the facts. Is the water too cold? Is it too deep? Who cares. Just get wet.
What inspires me is something I call the What If Factor. What if a small-town preacher's daughter became enamored of a bad-boy biker just riding through? Lots of conflict. Lots of tension. Lots of heartache. Okay, what if you took it a step farther and gave it a twist? What if the hero was the small-town preacher with a very predictable day-to-day life? What if the heroine was a down-on-her luck drifter; maybe she has a bike; maybe she has a Bible in her backpack, but maybe it's a bundle of incriminating documents that she stole from her last employer, a Russian mob boss, who is actively searching for her? Still with me? Now let's give them more to lose: What if he is a widower and he has a young child (much more at stake). What if she's got to get to the coast in a week so she can catch up with the person who is going to smuggle her out of the country to safety? But she's drawn to this man who wants to protect her and save her soul? And he can't explain why he's willing to risk everything to help this woman on the run? I mean, WHAT IF???
I know this was a pretty hilarious and far-fetched example, but my message is, just let yourself go. Let your brain take you to strange and beautiful/dark/dangerous places and explore every interesting crevice...and write about it.


3 comments:

JudyB said...

Great debut, Leigh!

Writer's block is something you get when there's someone else to pay the bills. (Stole that from Ben Bova - with his permission, of course.)

It would be amazing if anyone could ever write decent fiction without asking "what if?" at all. Even non-fiction can use some help from that question.

Chary Johnson said...

"Writer's block is something you get when there's someone else to pay the bills."

I love this quote and find it to be true since we have a two income household.

This is a great post and just the kick in the rear I needed!

Maggie Rivers said...

Thanks, Leigh. Very good subject. There are days when the writing seems to come easier than others. On those days when it's not so easy, I seem to sweat words onto my keyboard and I, too, find that playing the "What If" game seems to help.