Tuesday, July 26, 2016

How to: Start Writing Again

So you've had a busy month, months, or even a year and you had ZERO time to write. How do you get back into it again after such a long time?

Writing is just like going to work or school on a Monday or after a long holiday. You are dragging that enertia, that sluggishness with you and the first day is like major Writersblockitis.

Writersblockitis: A sickness/disease that only writers get. Symptoms are, writersblock, enertia, a drive but no creativity, easily distracted, and if any story comes out it sounds awful.

So what should you do?

There are several ways to conquer Writersblockitis. I will introduce ways I have conquered it especially at times when I had a deadline like NaNoWriMo but keep in mind that not every single way is going to work for you. I will also introduce suggestions from other writers so it's not just my preferences.

1. Just write even if it sounds stupid.

Even if it sounds like a five-year-old wrote it, write anyway. Sooner or later after several stories of "Pickles the Dog Meets A Duck!" your brain will start going into its creative zone again and you'll find yourself back in your momentum. Then you can expertly go back and edit out that storybook you have shoved in the middle of your grand masterpiece.

2. Google Wallpaper

I know you're probably like "Wha da heck???" but
this really works for me and I think it might for you, too. Visualizing some potential story can get you into the mode again. Yes, inspiration, that's the word :) I usually try to find something fantasy-isque because that's the genre I'm comfortable with. So, "fantasy wallpaper" "nature fantasy wallpaper" "nighttime wallpaper" "planet wallpaper" "fantasy planet wallpaper" are usually the terms I use.

Another great term is "photography". Some people take the most AMAZING photos...maybe some are enhanced through editing but that doesn't make them any less awesome. "nature photography" "spring photography" well, pratically any words relating to nature are going to get you some great photographs to help your imagination.

But don't rush it. Don't try to see a story in the picture. Just browse at your own leisurely time and it'll come to you :)

If you suddenly find yourself rushing to look up more specific wallpapers or photographs like "fantasy fire fairy in field wallpaper" or "desert at night with moon photography" then you can now start thinking of a story. Your old momentum is poking its head out. Think of a character. Think of what that fairy could do. A protagonist or antagonist? Mystery or fantasy? Thriller even? Stretch your mind and go outside of your comfort zone of genres. You never know what gem your brain might stumble upon.

3. Google "random first line generator" or "random prompt generator"

and just go through and keep clicking that generate button until you're like "eh, maybe".

Stop there, "maybe" is good enough. You just want to get your momentum back. Try writing a short one-page story with that "maybe". You might even surprise yourself when you find that you can write more than one page. It has happened to me, it can probably happen to you, too :)

4. Your Unfinished Pieces

First Scenario: If your aim is to just start writing (ANYTHING because that's how desparate you are into getting that momentum back), reading your unfinished pieces from start to stop might be helpful.

DO NOT read the last line only or the last line first because that makes your brain go into that awful state of enertia again and then you'll find yourself feeling distracted and then you'll find yourself watching Grace Helbig and suddenly Pewdiepie and then "Top 10 Things you didn't know about"s and then the weird part of YouTube where people claim they have seen dogs with human faces.

Read from the first sentence. Read like you're just reading any old story. You might surprise yourself on how GOOD you actually are and reading through it helps your brain recall the story. You know what world you were trying to build? Put yourself into it again and you'll find yourself continuing it at the end.

IF! If, you get to the end and still feel enertia, don't reread it! The results will be worse because now you're panicking because you can't come up with a continuation. Go to another piece instead. Read through anything and everything you have. Character sketches, world sketches, those cool first lines you came up with, any poems or songs you wrote, read it from top to bottom until you find one where you go,

EEP! I think I can do something with this! :D

And then you'll go into full adrenaline mode and start writing again.

Second Scenario: If your aim is to continue a novel or novella or short story, reread from Chapter 1 or the Prolog as if you are the reader and the author is someone else (it could be your alter ego or it might not be...hmm)

As I said for the First Scenario, DO NOT read the last line you typed. Chances are you will go into panic mode because you ARE having Writersblockitis and you ARE NOT inspired and nothing can help (or so you think) and you CANNOT come up with a continuation.

"AHH! I can't continue! AHH! That's it, I'm gonna go watch YouTube!"

Nope. Don't do that to yourself.

Read from Chapter 1 or Prolog. Don't try to think up a continuation as you reread your story just because you DO remember how you left off. That will just put pressure on you and you will panic and when you get to the end nothing would have helped.

Just read like you would any story. Don't think about how you left off. That is of ZERO importance here. Just reread from the first chapter. If you HAVE NOT seen it in a year chances are you're gonna amaze yourself cuz you are such a TALENTED writer.

I'm not being conceited. But I did wonder "WHOA! I don't remember writing this amazing awesome story, gosh!"

5. CampNaNoWriMo

For those of you who don't know what this is, it is the softer version of Nation Novel Writing Month. You don't have to start from scratch, you can write book two of your series if you want to, you can use this time to finish your book, any wordcount is okay, but you are FORCED to be creative everyday for a month.

If you have come out of the storm pf busy-ness (or business, however you wish to spell it) and you know that either in April or July (when CampNaNo is held) you can take the time to write, go to the CampNaNo website and sign yourself up.

It's good to have a cabin where members communicate with one another. I was lucky to have one in April 2016. You can encourage each other on and talk about your milestones and your crazy research and how your life is getting in the way of your writing.

I used this 2016 April CampNaNo to polish up my novel. Book One: East Seekers had gone through 10 edits by me myself, one full rewrite, and finally I established my MC and was beginning to rewrite the story using just him (I initally had two MCs until I realized one was better than the other).

I was rewriting it with one MC and found difficulties in continuing cuz I have been working on this for 7 years and it DOES get frustrating sometimes that the wordcount never seemed to exceed 40,000. But I knew from CampNaNo experiences and NaNo experiences that forcing yourself to write can get you to write 50,000. So I entered Book One: East Seekers into CampNaNoWriMo April 2016.

Long story short it worked and I am still continuing it and it has over 60,000 words. It definitely helped to CampNaNoWriMo it because this exercise forces you to be creative SOMEHOW every single day.

Now, if you are going to become a full-time writer, you will have to do this. This meaning being creative SOMEHOW every single day. Well, of course you will get breaks but it's a full-time thing so :/

6. Almost Everyday One-Page Stories

Sadly the July CampNaNo is coming to an end. But if you want to work on getting creative momentum at least, you could try writing a one-page word document story almost everyday. I say ALMOST because I have NOT been consistent very well.

But these really help your creativity. You get to experiment, too. Here are some types of stories I tried my creativeness on.

A story about a girl who finds out a secret of her family
Story based in a dry parched land
Story based in a wet moist land
Story from point of view of aliens who created crop circles
A ghost girl becoming human for a halloween night party
An angel capturing a demon
Two grandmas fighting over the car wheel on a rainy stormy day
Story based on slavery revolutions on a plantation from the POV of the rich guy
Slaves escaping
Rich and poverty contrast
Cliche the Chosen One
Guy actor being killed by director while practicing the role of a villain
Some vampire-esque stuff
Rich girl flirting with her butler
A bear getting revenge on hunters
A story that begins and ends the same way with philosophical meaning
A story of a woman spy who falls in love with her victim but kills him anyway because of duties
A boy growing up by giving away his stuffed animals
A bit of horror
Family drama
LGBT related stories
Girl meeting homeless man taking him in and falling in love
Non-fiction story from own experience
Taking a video of crisis during the crisis
Start of a revolution maybe?
Police stuffs
Nazi fiction from POV of soldier
Son of hoarder/compulsive shopper battling her condition
Fantasy with a boy called Calico (This turned into a NaNoWriMo story)

and so on and so forth and I started this three years ago and I have 78 stories in total.

(Boasting a little.)

Now remember, these stories don't have to have an ending but try hard to come to some sort of conclusion at the end of the page. It'll be hard at first but then your brain will get used to feeling creative even just a tad everyday.

I couldn't come up with anymore so here is some advice from other fellow writers (Figment: Write Yourself In):

7. Plan it

Do a character sketch, come up with a world, who is that character and what does he/she/it/they do?
Write up a plot, get that setting in, what era, what country?

8. Read books the same genres of your stories.

Write romance? Read romance. Write fantasy? Read fantasy. For me, I think this would make me feel extremely jealous and feel like "Hey, I would have come up with that! No wait, I can do better!" and then I'll start writing thinking those people are who I am up against...which is kinda true if I am aiming for publication.

9. Listening to instrumental music pieces.

Writing tools? CHECK. iTunes? CHECK. Ears to listen and fingers to type? DOUBLE CHECKERS. This isn't for me, but apparently lots of people like listening to music when they write or music inspires them to write. Maybe it'll work for you? Doesn't hurt to try :)

10.  Writing the old-fashioned way.

No, not with typewriters silly, the OLDER old-fashioned way; a pencil.

Er, I mean by hand with a pencil. Or pen. Apparently the act of using your hand and the fact that you are not going back to edit keeps you focused on your story and away from distractions.

Hm, that's interesting cuz most of my poems come from writing by hand and I'm satisfied with a lot of them.

BONUS (only because it is something that does zero for me but might help you)

Create a bunch of potential book titles and go from there.

So that's all of it and I hope you can get your creative juices flowing and adrenaline lightning rushing through your dry veins and conquer that Writersblockitis.

Happy Writing! :D

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