Staying Fresh

“Writing is at its best — always, always, always — when it is a kind of inspired play for the writer. I can write in cold blood if I have to, but I like it best when it’s fresh and almost too hot to handle.”
Stephen King

While Stevie isn’t my favorite fiction author, his handbook On Writing is one I always enjoy dipping into, mainly because he’s so candid and unpreachy about the time, energy, and commitment it takes to succeed. He’s a craftsman who relishes his craft and isn’t afraid to share a few trade secrets. I like that in a coach.

Writing as “a kind of inspired play” is a way of working that we can all aspire to. But sometimes — and even prolific Stevie has been there — putting pen to paper or firing up our computer can seem more like something we simply have to do than something we want to do. When things get a bit stale, here are a few ideas to liven them up:

Interview your characters: Instead of picking up your narrative and struggling over a plot point, try starting a conversation with a key character and see what advice they have to offer about what should happen next. Their ideas might surprise you!

Use index cards: When I’m stumbling over a rough passage, instead of staring at a blank page, I’ll pull out a bunch of 5×9 colored index cards. I start noodling around and before I know it, I have a sentence or two written and I loosen up. Breaking up my work into these smaller, paragraph-sized chunks makes it seem more manageable. I’ve written whole chapters this way.

Switch gears: My sister Stephanie loves to work on more than one editing project at a time. When she gets stuck on one, she can shift to something completely different for a while. This approach gives her a mental-health break and lets her return to her original project with more energy and focus. This can be a good strategy for writing as well.

Any tricks or techniques you find helpful when writing turns from play into work?

About karinwritesdangerously

I am a writer and this is a motivational blog designed to help both writers and aspiring writers to push to the next level. Key themes are peak performance, passion, overcoming writing roadblocks, juicing up your creativity, and the joys of writing.
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2 Responses to Staying Fresh

  1. wosushi says:

    I tend to write like the story is a play in my head, so the “interviewing characters” is key for me.

    I feel like anytime I am kind of stuck on a scene, I concentrate on “talking to” the characters and it works its way out.

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