Could it be that your mind didn't suddenly GO blank, but rather, it was already empty? Don’t get offended, I’m not saying that you’re lacking in brain cells or creative genius.
Fiction writers spill thoughts onto paper in the form of hundreds of words every day. Setting, characterization, motive, conflict, resolution, and other required elements of a good story are conceived and fashioned in our brains. We use them every day as if they were a perpetual resource. GET REAL! You can’t drink a glass of wine out of the same bottle every day and it not end up empty. What’s the solution? Get another bottle or refill the one you have.
Now some of you may think you’re blessed with more than one functioning brain, or, that a brain transplant is possible, but a little more research will convince you otherwise. The only remedy is to refill the bottle. For writers, that means stuffing our minds with new ideas, thoughts, visions, fantasies, etc.
I heard that groan... And you’re right, it does take lots of inspiration. So quit procrastinating and try at least one of the five Mind Stuffing Solutions.
- This one is easy. Think about something or somewhere in your locality that offers you an entirely new experience. Example: Rock climbing, volunteering, cooking class, small engine repair class, learn a new language, etc.
- Read a new book that is totally out of your preferred genre. Example: Dictionary, Astrophysics, The care of Exotic Animals, Build a Tree House, etc.
- Take a trip to your local mall or large department store. NO, don’t buy anything. What I want you to do is feel everything that catches your eye. Note the texture, shape, color, and weight. Then determine how you feel about that object in an emotional way. Are you apathetic, desirous, envious, happier, confused, etc.
- Are you ready for lunch? I know I’m starving. Let’s go to a completely new eatery. There is only one rule, you can’t take anyone but me along, of course, I’m an imaginary friend, so you’ll be the only one at the table. Don’t be shy. Eating alone in a public place is a wonderful opportunity to watch people, enjoy some great food, and muse about the menu. Musing over the menu is the real reason for this trip. Food generates memories. NO KIDDING! While you eat, and it would really be nice if you’d order something you've never tried before, study the entrees listed on the menu. Conjure up the last memory you have of that food. Where did you eat it and with whom? Is it something you prepare? Do you serve it to your guests? Had any bad experiences with this food? etc.
- This one is easy because there are so many to choose from. Think of a problem, any problem. It might be the price of beef, violence in schools, single parenting, religious disunity, etc. Now that you have your problem, think about your own beliefs, reactions, perceptions to this problem. Here comes the hard part. Change your point-of-view three times and try to consider how your beliefs, reactions, and perceptions would change. Example: Say your problem is the price of beef, think of it from your standpoint as a consumer first. Then you might consider the problem from the viewpoint of the rancher who raises the beef cattle, the USDA responsible for the safety of our food chain, or a person who lives in poverty and rarely eats meat.
If you follow through, doing one or all of these things, you’ll start to form new memories, new viewpoints, new awareness, new perceptions, new emotions, etc. And guess where all of these things are stored for later use. YOU GOT IT! They are now stuffed in your mind and ready to go to work the next time you sit down to write.
For any writer to write well, they must constantly replenish their unique, exclusive, and personal life experiences. It doesn't need to be hard, expensive, or complicated. It just needs to be new in some vital way. When you go to your closet, do you put the same clothes on every time in exactly the same manner? Of course you don’t. You mix and match creating new ensembles. In the same manner, little changes in routine, preference, and perception create new ideas that will sometimes boggle your mind. And in my opinion, a boggled mind is a creative mind...