TAPPING THE CREATIVE WELL
By: Carol Snow
Legend has it that the entire plot of Twilight came to Stephenie Meyer in a dream. The next day she got out of bed and started typing. Not writing: typing. Because the entire book was just . . . there. In her head. Waiting to come out. If this story is true (I’m not convinced), then I’m happy for Stephenie Meyer. Truly, I am. But while several of my book ideas have arrived, unexpectedly, in a flash of inspiration, the road from coming up with an idea to actually finishing a book has always been long, slippery, littered with potholes and subject to ill-advised detours.
So maybe I’m not that happy for Ms. Meyer (though she seems like a perfectly nice person). But that Twilight story perpetuates the myth that writing is this mystical thing, without any messy work involved.
Here, then, are my tips for getting the creative juices flowing:
- Consume large amounts of caffeine. Studies show that caffeine aides concentration. Also, making a cup of coffee or tea gives you an excuse to get up from your desk.
- Keep your butt in the chair. I didn’t make this phrase up. (I’m too delicate.) But if you wait till you’re in the mood to write, you may find that you are never in the mood to write.
- Get your butt out of the chair. I did make that one up! (So much for being delicate.) If you’ve met your personal page quota for the day and feel like you’ve hit a wall, sometimes it’s best to pack things in.
- Consume large amounts of salty snacks. Studies have shown that sodium aides creativity. Okay, not really, but when things are slow and it feels like you’ll never meet your page quota, a little bowl of something salty can brighten your day. Salty and cheesy is even better.
- Listen to music. The right tune can reach places in your brain you didn’t even know were there.
- Resist the urge to reread your finished pages. Your own writing can intimidate you if you start to think that what you’ll write won’t be as good as what you’ve written.
- Re-acquaint yourself with pen and paper. I keep a composition notebook around at all time to make character notes and jot down plot ideas. Sometimes the physical act of writing, as opposed to typing, is enough to unlock your brain.
- Do the dishes, fold laundry, or clean the windows. Doing a mundane task can distract your conscious mind just enough to free your unconscious. And even if it doesn’t work, at least the dishes will be done.
- Talk about your ideas with that special someone. No, I don’t mean your boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse, whatever – unless that person is a good listener who asks perceptive questions and resists the urge to criticize your material or offer too many concrete suggestions. (That’s the person to hit up when you get to the editing stage.)
- Do or see something new. You never know where that next idea is going to come from.
- Get your butt back in the chair!!!
And, finally — Get plenty of sleep. Your next great idea could come from a dream. Hey, it’s been known to happen.
About the Author:
Carol Snow is an American author of humorous, heartfelt women’s fiction. Called “an author to watch” by Booklist, Snow’s titles include Been There, Done That (2006), Getting Warmer (2007), Here Today, Gone to Maui (2009), Just Like Me, Only Better (2010), and the upcoming What Came First (October 2011), about which Laura Fitzgerald, bestselling author of Veil of Roses, said, “Carol Snow mixes her trademark humor with tenderness and understanding in this good-mom/bad-mom tale of unexpected twists and turns.” Carol has also written two novels for young adults, Switch (2008), an ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, and Snap (2009). Foreign rights to her books have sold to publishers in Germany, Norway, and Romania.
Carol Snow holds a bachelor’s from Brown University and a master’s from Boston College. Originally from New Jersey, she now lives in southern California with her husband and two children.
To Learn More Visit: http://www.carolsnow.com/what-came-first