Five More Ways to Write When You’re Not Writing

Bitch, Ok!  Just Say No.

In my last writing post, I listed five ideas to write without sitting down and staring at that damned blinking cursor that smirks quietly at you from the top of the page.  However, those suggestions assumed you had extra time and / or money.  So the last five will focus on what you can do with a crazy life and making an average writer’s wage. (I also explained how I bastardized BICHOK into… Bitch, OK. I’m not proud of it.)

Five More Ways

  1. Take a notebook and write a scene.  I don’t care about details or where they are or who they are.  Just write it in dialogue.  No more than 5 pages.  We’re short on time here, remember, and this is just an exercise.  When you’re finished, take a look back at the way the storyteller within you created conflict, setting, character, action.  This is active writing folks.
  2. Remember in high school, when they taught us to brainstorm?  And we deemed it lame, because who the hell needs little connected clouds to give us structure.  It’s just silly.  But give it another shot.  Use a whiteboard if you’ve got one.  If you don’t, buy some seriously cheap posterboard.  Give yourself a half hour, if you’ve got it, when you won’t be disturbed.  Turn on music, if it helps you–it does me.  If you’re working on a story, brainstorm you’re next act.  Or this act, if you haven’t gotten that far.  If not, then just start with a character or a situation.  But here’s the thing: you don’t have to have a central circle and move out.  Make lots of circles, fill them in as they occur to you and THEN connect them.  You’ll see connections you didn’t realize were there, and I promise you, circles will follow to connect those.
  3. If you’ve got a character you’re trying to get a handle on, have him or her write a brief biography for you.  You can do it in your notebook, or pick an appropriate font for his or her personality.  And just go.  Backstory that will never see your novel are crucial to making real characters, and you don’t just need it for your hero/heroine.  You need them for secondary characters, too.  Remember, these are all real people, with real lives, with their own histories and their own goals.  (Okay, I realize technically I am advocating some Bitch, Ok! here.  But it’s fun, it’s not punishment.  It’s not the blinking cursor who hates you and wants to make you cry.)
  4. Rearrange your writing space.  That’s right, to make up for my small Bitch, Ok! slip, I’m not even advocating writing a damn thing here.  Organize it, rearrange it, make it YOURS.  Neat, if that’s you.  Make sure your tools are close by.  Light, pens, notebook, notes.  Make it a new place, a place you look forward to going to.  You’re haven.  If you’ve got the room, add a chair and a lamp for reading.  That’s one of the reasons writers have the best job ever.  Lawyers study precedents; teachers take continuing education classes (although I’ve got some teachers in my family, and don’t even let them tell you they’re not having fun… teachers are crazy); but writers?  We get to read books we love.  That’s your job.  Enjoy yourself.
  5. I just realized I put my fifth one in number four.  Go read a book you’ve been dying to read.  I just got Agnes and the Hitman, and I am going to have the perfect night.  And I’m not going to look for structure, or dialogue, or character.  I’m going to enjoy it.  And when I’m done, I gaurantee you… I’ll have seen those things.  And a flame will spark, I’ll get me some Bitch, Ok!

Miss the first five ways?

Read Five Ways to Write When You’re Not Writing


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