Sitting at the beach one morning, I am greeted by an Italian melody. His name is Giovanni, or at least I think his name is Giovanni when I hear his accent.
“I’m not disturbing your meditation, am I?” he asks me kindly.
I see a much older gentleman standing next to me wearing a navy blue and pink argyle sweater, faded jeans, and tan leathery skin.
“No, not at all,” I answer, and refrain from adding it’s not really a meditation. I’m figuring out what to write about today. Oh, and I just moved home to Florida, took my son to his new school and then discovered some furniture was damaged during the move. Dearest Giovanni, I should be meditating.
“It’s heaven on earth, isn’t it?” he adds, pointing to the way the different stripes of blue complement each other like one of the rows of a box of 64 Crayola Crayons. I sigh and let my agreement of his observation float into the wind alongside an airborne seagull.
The green mangrove to our left is lush and thick. The sand at the bottom of the stairs is tan and grainy. The only color missing from this moment is red until I spot a tiny vein of it running through a solitary leaf hanging from a bare tree nearby.
Giovanni also sighs, turns, and walks away. I do not feel it is necessary to wish him well. Plus, the landscape demands my attention.
Noticing your environment – the world around you and the setting within your manuscript – is required for all writers. What is not required, however, is staying still all the time to make your manuscript come alive when you feel stuck. My point? Get. Out. Of. Your. Chair.
A writing life means living a life, too, and then pulling from there to add new perspectives to your work. Utilizing this technique allows you to overcome writing blocks because you go out to bring the good stuff in.
When you are stuck, try these imagination prompts:
- Get in your car, drive to a new spot you’ve never been to, turn off the ignition, and write for 20 minutes about everything outside to the left of your car. When you’re finished, go sit in the passenger seat and write for the next 20 minutes on what you see outside the right side of your car. When you are finished, notice what is different in your perspectives with each. Interesting, isn’t it?
- Go to your local coffee shop, order your favorite cup of coffee or tea, and interview three people (yes, really). Tell them you are writing a novel and ask them if they would be open to sharing their favorite spy character and why. When finished, go sit in your favorite seat, choose one of your interviewess as one of those characters, and write a scene how he or she saved you from a robber overtaking the coffee shop.
- Get to your local library or bookstore, go to a section you would never go to and pick up the first book you see. It can be anything. Pick one to two pages and write everything you read from a different point of view. Change the setting. Add in new dialogue. Have fun with it!
Everything in writing doesn’t always have to make sense. If it did, great scripts like Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs wouldn’t have been such a hit as a movie, right?
It is your imagination that needs to be stirred when you face uncertainty about what to write. Yes, you may have a deadline or think your non-fiction business book requires cerebral smarts and not a morning meditation by the sea. Quality writing needs creative fuel. One of the strongest ways to unleash your quality work and get a chance at publication is to go beyond thinking outside the box. Why? Because in today’s publishing environment, there is no box.
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Causes Christy Heady Supports
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