Five Ways to Write When You’re Not Writing

by Lori, @lorisizemore on 10.22.2008

in writing

No Bitch, Ok! For Me.

There’s a great story behind why I made this list. Also, the whole Bitch, Ok! thing will make more sense. You can read it by expanding the section below or just go straight to the list.

Five Ways to Write When You’re Not Writing

  1. Go sit in a graveyard.  No seriously.  If sitting there makes you feel creepy (and I know this happens, you worry the real family will show up and ask what the hell you’re doing) then walk around.  Look at the names.  Think about what you can tell about a person from their grave.  Do they have fresh flowers or plastic ones or old dead, wilted ones?  Is there an inscription on the stone?  Were they beloved by anyone?  Is the tombstone shaped like a guitar or a heart?  Who were all of these people?
  2. Go stay in a cheap hotel room, by yourself, in a town you’re not terribly familiar with.  You can take a notebook and pen.  You can take your ipod or similar device.  You may not take your laptop, especially if said hotel offers free wifi.  Take a walk (if you feel safe) or a drive (if you don’t).  Take a long shower.  Look out the window.  Eavesdrop on the people walking around in the hallway.  Go sit in the bar, if they’ve got one.  Don’t feel weird, you’re not alone–you’ve got your notebook.  Order one drink–no more–and write down what you see and hear.
  3. Go to a department store, preferably a busy one.  Park as close as you can to the front.  It doesn’t matter if you drive around for thirty minutes, waiting for a primo spot.  You’ve got your tunes, remember?  Now, once you park, watch.  People go in, they come out.  Look at what they’re carrying, read their body language.  Are they in a hurry?  Arguing?  Harrassed by three demanding children?  (That’d be me.  Don’t wave, I’ll think you’re a freak.) Make up stories, in your head (duh) about the people you see.  About their lives, or why they’re buying what they bought, or what they want, or where they just came from, or what they do for a living.
  4. Go to any restaurant and buy a cup of coffee.  If you’re hungry, it’s okay to buy food, but only if you take your time and enjoy the meal.  Take a notebook.  Write down what you hear, smell, taste, and touch.  Don’t write what you see, seeing comes too easily, sometimes.
  5. Find someplace you feel safe at night.  It might be your front porch or balcony, an empty park.  Hell, park across the street from the police station.  Roll down your window (this is why we want safe).  Listen.  Just listen.  Now, focus on one thing you can see.  A street lamp?  A fence post?  A cop car?  Doesn’t matter to me, doesn’t even matter to you, the people in your head will take over.  Now make up a scenario.

Yeah, sure, someone got arrested.  Wow.  I haven’t seen that a thousand times.

No.  Make up a scenario, make a scene.  I want character names.  I want dialogue.  I want backstory.  Just what you need for your scene.  You don’t have to write it down, if you don’t want to, just let it play through your mind.

Want More?

Read five more ways to write when you’re not writing.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Ellen Runt L Stuntle. October 22, 2008 at 9:39 pm EDT

Good stuff, all!

I hate those writers that always maintain that a writer writes, no matter what, inspiration or no inspiration, and that anyone else is kidding themselves. Which is mostly horseshit, they’re the minority. One of my favourite authors, also a highly successful editor, hated writing. The only way he got anything done was to forbid himself anything until he wrote an entire page that day. Every day. That works for me, too.

Not too sure if BICHOK will catch on. Certainly not in the same way NMFP has around here.

October 23, 2008 at 12:00 am EDT


Nevermind. That’s why God invented Google.

Eremia Phuntlestuntle October 23, 2008 at 9:42 am EDT

Not My Fucking Problem.

Dade March 11, 2009 at 4:46 am EDT

Great take on the technique, I’ve never come across it this way before

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

Previous post:

Next post: