Have you ever sat up in the middle of the night to write down a sudden stroke of inspiration? Or made a quick voice memo to yourself? Maybe jotted down a plot twist idea while you’re supposed to be working or studying?
For a lot of writers, creativity comes in waves. This is great if those waves are thrashing around like stormy seas, but at some point a writer is bound to hit a flat spot. And not the kind of flat spot that’s great for water skiing. This is the kind that leaves you stuck in the middle of the lake wondering how the heck you’re ever going to get back to shore.
Here are three tips to keep those creativity waves coming.
1. Write first thing in the morning
Writing when you’re half asleep has some pretty cool effects. You’re still partially in dreamland when you first wake up in the morning, so you end up writing stuff that you wouldn’t otherwise think of. Besides, it genuinely sucks trying to sit down and be creative after you’ve had all the day’s energy leeched from you.
The wee hours of the morning are also interruption-free—and if your attention span is anywhere near as pathetic as mine, this is vital to getting anything done.
2. Go for the third thing you think of
This applies to the big picture (overall plot turns or the outcome of a big scene) just as much as it does to small, seemingly insignificant details (a prop in your character’s bedroom, or a snarky line of dialogue). The first thing you think of is too obvious, and probably a cliché. The second thing is ok, but come on, you can do better. The third? Now we’re getting somewhere.
3. Step back. You’re looking at it too closely.
Seriously bro, give that story some space! Some aspects of writing can really kill your creativity jam—like spending twenty minutes trying to come up with the perfect synonym for “stumbled”. If you find your creativity IV drip running dry, you need to step back a little. Look at your outline, story notes, logline, whatever. Remind yourself of the overall goal of your story, and the original purpose you set out to achieve. Even better: get inspired by reading some books by other authors.
Summoning creativity is often just a matter of letting yourself go. Get crazy! Write down something totally weird. Don’t try and write perfectly—that comes later, in the editing stage. For now, embrace those waves of creativity.
What about you? What creativity-boosting tips can you share?