Three Tips to Stay Creative During These Crazy Times
| by Winter Lawrence |
Howdy! I hope this finds you well! I know I’ve been off the radar for a bit now, but—as I’m sure is the case with everyone else—I’ve been trying to keep up with all of the changes that have been thrown our way. It’s been a crazy ride, but I am thankfully well, and I hope you guys are too!
On a bright note, before the world turned upside down, I had just wrapped up a YA paranormal mystery, which my publisher loved and picked up! I’m so excited to share it with the world next summer and I promise to keep you guys updated on its progress!
As for my newest project though, I had just started storyboarding it when the coronavirus took center stage, and while I tried to stay positive and diligent throughout all of the turmoil and upheavals, my creativity ultimately crashed and burned after a couple of weeks in quarantine. It was the worst case of writers’ block I have ever experienced before, and because of all the different factors involved with this scary and tragic virus, I wasn’t quite sure how to kick the writing blues. And so I stopped trying.
I know, I know, I know…that sounds sad and it was. Depression in any form should never be taken lightly. In this case though, by me walking away from writing to just sit and be, I inadvertently reignited my passion for my project! Here’s how…
Step One…I Binge-Watched Like a Boss
I think we’ve all had our fair share of quality Netflix time since this has all started! Personally, I think I’ve watched more television in the past couple of months than I have in years (and that’s saying a lot because I’m a pretty avid TV-goer!). And while at first I tried to stay away from starting up a new series so I could use this coronavirus time productively, when I couldn’t find inspiration to write, I found myself using Netflix as an ally in the fight against writers’ block. There’s a trick to this though. Instead of watching all of the shows on my list, I went out of my way to find movies that shared a similar theme to my project. Naturally, there are some really great films out there about haunted houses (which I burned through quickly!). Sadly, that meant that within days, I was only left with the really not-so-great movies. You know…those B-rated crappy ones that no one quite knows how they got picked up in the first place. Well, I forced myself to watch them, and guess what—it worked! See, the thing about watching the good movies is that you get ideas for all the things that will work great in your project. The thing about watching the bad stuff is that you know exactly what not to do, which is a fantastic form of inspiration in its own right!
So, if you’re having a hard time getting into the writing zone, go log onto your favorite streaming service! Pick out all the crappy movies related to your latest project and then watch them! Trust me; it’ll be worth in the end!
Step Two…I Time Traveled
I am a very detailed-oriented person and researching topics is probably one of my very favorite pastimes. It’s all about the little facts. The minutiae, if you will. Those unnecessary and inconsequential details put me in my happy place. Typically when I’m storyboarding though, I don’t worry too much about the specifics of anything. I’m just examining the storyline in its broadest sense, with a very loose timeline associated with it. That all changed this time around. With my writers’ block in full swing, I couldn’t get a grasp on anything clearly, and so I narrowed down my focus to one day. August 5th, 1986. That’s the day my main storyline will begin, and so I immersed myself into that date. I looked up the weather in Castle Rock for that Tuesday (you can get that from NOAA); I watched commercials, listened to radio broadcasts and news clips, and I found all sorts of cool articles in archives. I also started up lists of the top songs and shows of the year.
For days, I lived and breathed all things 1986. It was fantastic! So if you find yourself stuck on your project, pick just one day that you know will be in the story and go research-bananas! The more you delve into that specific day, the more your story will come to you!
Step Three…I Crafted like No One was Watching
I like to think of myself as an artistic person, but while I’m confident in my ability to craft a pretty word picture, I’m a thousand percent positive that my freehand drawings aren’t going to win any awards any time soon! Needless to say, thank goodness for the internet! With so many handy pictures available, I didn’t have to harm anyone’s eyes in the making of some wretched drawing, and since a good portion of my story revolves around a little girl who is obsessed with Madonna, I didn’t have to do the Queen of Pop any type of injustice either! Instead, I printed out a ton of helpful pictures that captures the Material Girl’s awesome sense of style. I also found pictures of actors who portray each of the main characters in the story, and most importantly, I designed the star of the show—in this book’s case, the house—on Minecraft! It’s a lovely old Victorian with lots of personality!
Normally, I wouldn’t take so much time designing a vision board or playing architect on Minecraft, but by indulging my creativity to situate everything just right, and by making sure I gathered enough of all the right pictures, it helped me get back to what I really needed to be doing—writing!
So when it doubt, be sure to take a step away from project. In fact, stop writing altogether! Go for a walk instead, or take a few minutes to play with your fur babies (or your favorite humans!). Then spend some quality time just thinking about the small details of your story. Find movies that are similar to your project and binge them. Pick a day that’s important to your protagonist and immerse yourself in it. And then Google like you’ve never Googled before. Find pictures of the town you’re writing about and pick actors who you’d love to see in the role of your characters. Most importantly, have fun with all of these little tasks, because at the end of the day, the more enjoyable it is for you, the more inspired you’ll become—and that’s when you can get back to writing!
Until next time, friends, be well and write on!