Monday, January 25, 2010

Sustaining Creativity

Finished Ch 46; 82,270

Writing Tip: Two readers have asked basically the same question. One wanted to know how I kept going and didn't get stopped by writer's block. The other wants to know how I keep the creative spark going page after page.
The answer is in how much you've invested in the story. The best books come out of an author's obsession with the characters and their "what ifs." Life can be awkward when a story has a hold of you. But without that compelling curiosity to find out what happens next, how your characters are going to react, and if the poor hero is going to make it through his/her next personal challenge, you might as well hang up your hat, or in this case, your keyboard.

So when a period of non-productivity raises its ugly head, focus on your characters. Eat with them, go shopping with them, drive the car with them, until you are forced to go to the computer and confine their activities to the printed page.


  1. That is so true! It's all about caring about the characters. I take walks and just think about the characters, where they've been, where they're going, what their motivations are. It helps keep me passionate about my writing and the world I've created.

    Another thing that really helps me is writing short stories about my characters. Maybe something from their life that happened before the timeline of the novel. Or I'll write a scene from the point of view of someone other than the character whose viewpoint I use in the book. I've solved several plot issues by writing a short story about a character--I discover a new facet to their personality or a new motivation for their actions that helps me hone in on what they would do next.

    BTW, I love how you said, "...forced to...confine their activities to the printed page." It just shows how the world where a novel takes place is so much bigger than what actually ends up in the book.

  2. Indeed!
    Sometimes the only way I can write is if I grow my characters in my imagination over a few days and then get back to typing about them.

    Although, sometimes I think this is the reason we have so many lame series right now because the author couldn't bear to give up working with his/her characters.

    Have you ever felt like you couldn't end a story because you liked the characters in it too much to write 'the end'?

  3. Great advice! I replay scenes in my mind so that I can capture new dialogue to add. I also find that changing the type of writing I'm doing pushes me through writer's block. Blog writing or article writing is a nice break from fiction.