Tuesday, February 19, 2013

How to Write When You Don't Feel Like Writing

It’s easy enough to get behind the idea of writing every day, but finding the time and the inspiration to actually do it, day after day, every day, is another story.

As it turns out, writing is hard.

But it’s also really easy.

If you can find 20 minutes, a pen, and a piece of paper, you have everything you need to write. For inspiration, you need only these three steps:

1. Pick a character. It can be anyone or anything. If you aren’t working on a larger writing project, just pick something. (It doesn’t even have to be a person; I once ended up with a story told from the point of view of a passport.) If you have a work in progress but are stuck, pick one of those characters, pull them out of the story, and put them in a new situation.

2. Give the character something to want. Every character should want something.

3. Put something between the character and what the character wants. It’s all about the conflict. That conflict, of course, can be internal or external, physical or psychological, magical or mundane.

Regardless, you’ve got what you need to start writing. Tell us about the character. Have him/her/it try to sate that desire. Give is the deets on who or what is trying to keep that character from that dream. Before you know it, you will have written something.

Journal 2 Feb 2005 pg 2
Journal 2 Feb 2005 pg 2 (Photo credit: Terry Bain)
This afternoon, I pulled out my trusty notebook while I waited for my lunch and quickly went through these steps. I started writing about 10-year-old Joey, who wants more than anything to be an astronaut. Had I gotten far enough into the story, I was going to have his vision start to go. How could he become an astronaut if he could barely see?

But I didn’t get that far. My sushi arrived a page-and-a-half later.

But the important thing is that I wrote something. I exercised my writing muscles.

Will what I started eventually become a Bradbury-esque story about the power of a child’s imagination? Probably not. Did it make me a better writer? Of course!

Writers write daily the way runners run daily; not to get from point A to point B, but to stay in shape for the marathons to come.

Now stop reading and go write something!
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