Getting creative

Current word count: 21,859

New words written: 966

Words til goal: 18,141 / 422 words a day til the end of September

Another good writing morning. Yay!

I’m at a strange part of my story for me. My characters have moved to a different world, and I haven’t created a different world before, so it has been intimidating but fun. I keep reminding myself that if it doesn’t work for any reason, that’s what revisions are for.

My words written each day has been over my goal in only about an hour or two, which means that my fingers are pretty much not stopping as soon as I hit the computer in the morning. To do that, I’ve got to know somewhat where the story is going. So preparation is key. How can I get that preparation when I only just woke up minutes before? Being fully engrossed in my story all the time.

For busy writers, whether they’re busy writing or busy with the rest of the things in their life, tapping into creativity whenever you sit at your computer can be daunting, and difficult, but it’s a must.

If being a writer full time is our goal — being a published writer — we can’t sit around waiting for the muse to whisper sweet plot lines into our ears. When we’ve got publishing deals signed, we’re going to have to deal with deadlines and make sure we meet them (Check out what Editorial Ass said recently about Making Your Delivery Date). And to make those deadlines, we won’t be able to wait for the muse.

Being creative when you’re tired from your day-job and you’ve got bills to pay and a family to feed and laundry to do, etc., can be difficult. To make sure that creativity is there, on call, ready to be tapped into whenever you need it, make sure you’re fully engrossed in your story ALL THE TIME; not just when you sit in front of your computer, but all the time.

Some of my most creative ideas have come not while I was writing, but while I was doing something mundane in my life. That’s the time when my mind can wander back to my novel and explore, even though I’m not actively writing at that time.

Driving: I’m not advocating not paying attention on the road, but driving is one of those activities that, as long as you’re being mindful of the other cars, you can allow your mind to think about other things too. Next time you’re driving around, between work and home, the grocery store, kids school, turn off the radio and bring your story into your head. Let the characters play around in there and watch. If something interesting happens, make sure you write it down so you won’t forgot — but after you’ve parked the car, of course.

Walking: Exercise is necessary to keep up your energy, and if you’ve got a dog, it’s necessary for the dog too. But your walking time can give you a few minutes to mull over your story as well. I also use my walk the dog time to read, which is an excellent way of increasing your writing skills, but you have to make sure you don’t trip.

Showering: Another mundane but necessary action. While your brain’s on soaping up autopilot, allow it to also consider what your characters are doing.

Cooking: Turn off the TV in the background, and while you stir your sauce, let your brain wander back to your book.

The more you find ways of bringing your story into your head when you’re not at your computer, the better prepared you’ll be when your fingers hit the keyboard.

When do you get your best ideas?

Write On!


9 Responses

  1. Brit says:

    Oh man – this is the perfect post and I could not agree with you more.

    Usually, when I’m lying in bed before I go to sleep, I begin to think about what I need to get accomplished the next day. Part of that is, reviewing “new” developments in my story I had during the day and then preparing myself to write this scene or that scene the next day.

    And everything you listed is me. One of my favorite things is when I drive back home to Louisiana. When my son falls asleep and I have a few hours of uninterrupted silence. Those moments really are golden. I keep a notebook in the kitchen for when I cook, I can write those notes down quickly. I keep a notebook by my bed, because I often wake in the middle of the night with some new development.

    I am totally in my story all the time. Excellent blog – it has been added!

  2. Oh yeah! The notebook by the bed. I have one too. I completely forgot that one. Thanks, Brit.

    And glad you like this blog.

    Brit, by the way, has a great blog on the writer’s journey called Dream the Dream. Check it out in our Blog By Writers list.


  3. Katie says:

    I have to go to “the office” just like my husband and face the computer ready or not. Usually though, I start by reading what I wrote the day before and it gets my brain back in the story and I take it from there.

    I also edit what I wrote the day before which is also fun.

    I loved your comment on our blog! I have SO been there. I recently sent out like 11 fulls, only to email back the next day and say, “oops! delete that please. I need to fix something and I’ll send it back when I finish.”

    All but one said, “Great! I’m swamped anyway.” And then two months later I knew I was ready.

    But as far as rejections go, I thought it was ready when I originally sent it out. I know the rules and I really thought it was ready. It was only after a really nice detailed rejection that I was able to see where it could be improved and so that’s what I did…

    I think if the agent LOVES the premise and wants the story, they will reject with an open door. That’s where I am right now. I have had a few rejections with suggested revisions. And should I fix those issues they want fixed, they all want it back (except for one:). So that’s good. Best of luck!!!


  4. Wow! Katie, that’s awesome. Congratulations and good luck!

    My initial send-out to seven agents returned one request for a full and a really nice, I love this, but it’s not right for me, response.

    My revision idea came after I read two agent interviews online saying they never want to see an opening that shows the protag moving house. That’s kind of integral to my story, so I didn’t think it was that unoriginal. But I figured I’d see if I could find a way to do it better. I did, and ended up trimming 4K words out of the manuscript!

    My book also was 64K, which again, I thought was ok, but after I started submitting, I read that agents were really looking for middle-grade novels of up to 50K at the most right now. So, as I had found a better way to open the story, I figured it might be best to hold off on any more submissions and give the whole thing another go-through and see if I can trim. I got 10K words out in all, amazing myself that I hadn’t seen things earlier. grr Oh well.

    And I agree with your last paragraph. I do think an agent will reject with an open door if they see potential they can work with. Ultimately, they want great books they can sell.


  5. I get some of my best ideas while I’m in traffic. My commute is about 30 minutes and I always find something interesting about my characters by the time I get to the office.

  6. Will says:

    Really good post. I try not to read whilst walking the dog as I will trip up…
    I’m outlining my first novel at the moment. It’s all a little like walking into a dark room wearing sunglasses at the moment – not least because my story is taking turns that I didn’t expect to make.
    For me, I forget to make notes, but the best times for thinking is either the bathroom or walking to work (I get about 20-25 minutes each way a day).

  7. I love this post, particularly the parts about being disciplined even when the inspiration doesn’t show up precisely when you sit down to write. I’m learning so many things right now about having my story in my head always – you’re so right, preparation is a key to being productive while writing. I also love the freedom there is in your reminder about ‘if it doesn’t work for any reason, that’s what revisions are for.’

    I get unusual ideas while driving, or from random words that stick out to me for no apparent reason (while in conversation with others).

  8. Patti says:

    It’s amazing where your ideas will come from, but I find my best ideas come when I’m writing. Usually I’m just throwing words on to a page in order to get to my word count goal, knowing full well that I probably won’t keep one single sentence the same, but then an idea pops into my mind and it’s brilliant and I’m so excited. That’s the best feeling.

    It’s either that or when I’m having a bath.

  9. Great way to pass the time in traffic, Karen. 🙂

    OwlandSparrow, yeah, always remember that your first draft is where you experiment, explore, get everything you can think of into the story — as some put it, vomit on the page. Don’t worry about editing. Just worry about creating. The editing, the perfecting, will come later.

    And Patti, so true. A lot of my ideas pop out as I’m writing too. In my current novel, I have to create a new world. I was thinking about it and planned it, but when I started to write it, a new vision popped into my head. Oh, and baths. Definitely keep a notebook near the bathtub.

What do you think?