Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Ten Ways to Jumpstart Your Creativity for the New School Year

By Jax Hunter

Hello Campers and Happy New School Year. 

Welcome to my new Tips column where each month, I’ll put together ten tips for improving your writing. This month, I’ve come up with a few ways to get your creative juices flowing.

1. Write in the opposite “person”. If you’re used to writing in first person, switch to third and vice versa. This works especially well when you’re stuck in third person. By switching to first person, you will be writing from inside your character. I’ve found that I learned a lot about what was really going on in a scene by writing in first person.

2. Write a flash fiction. Flash fiction is short, short fiction. Some sources say fiction under 1000 words, but the predominant definition is fiction under 500 words. Flash fiction forces you to make every word count. The nice thing for our purposes here, though, is that there’s no long-term commitment. It’s a quick way to get yourself going when you’re stuck.

3. Write a fanfiction. What is fanfiction, you ask? Take your favorite television show and write a story. Fanfic is huge on the net. There’s actually some very good writing out there. The delightful thing about fanfic is that the characters are already created for you and you already know them. 

4. Write a scene in screenplay format. This limits you and it frees you. In screenplay format, you write dialogue and action. No thoughts, no real POV in the traditional novel-writing sense. Just you looking through the lens and writing what you see and hear happening.

5. Try something completely foreign to you. Go play bingo. Talk to strangers. Ride in a hearse or on a horse. Go by the Harley Davidson store and pretend you’re interested in buying a bike. Go to the opera. Learn sign language. Blindfold yourself for the morning. Listen to rap music. Listen to talk radio. I picked up a book the other day at B&N on the sale table:  2,001 Things to Do Before You Die. Not only is it a great idea book to get you out of a rut, it’s a treasure house of situations, goals or nightmares for your characters. 

6. Write from a prompt. There are tons of writing prompts on the web and even books of prompts. If you just can’t get into your WIP (work in progress), take fifteen minutes to write from a prompt. You might find a great scene unfold before you eyes.

7. Read a book out of genre or, if you haven’t done so for a while, read a book on writing. If you’re a romance writer, pick up a Harlan Coben novel. Not as big a stretch as a Harlan Coben reader picking up a romance novel, is it? Hey suspense writers, you might be surprised! Dig through your boxes and find On Writing by King, or Write Away by Elizabeth George or any number of great books on writing. Or maybe THE writing bible - Swain’s Techniques of the Selling Writer. I find that I brainstorm well when I’m reading other things. So, I keep an index card handy to capture those thoughts. 

8. Write in a different spot, with a different medium. Have you discovered Moleskine notebooks? Wow, are they cool! I’m not sure my new Moleskine is right for writing a book, but it might be fine to get me started on a scene. Have you ever written a scene on a napkin?I have. How about a Big Chief pad?  (Sob, I don’t think they even make these anymore.) I love the way a ball point pen writes on a Big Chief. Grab your pad and pen or laptop and head over to Village Inn. Or the park. How about writing at the mall, or maybe the library. Getting out of your usual writing spot (even if you just move from your office to the kitchen, or to the La-Z-Boy) and changing your medium will stir things up a bit. You might even try dictating a scene into a tape recorder, as if you’re telling the story by the campfire. Give it a try.

9. Write in short bursts - set a timer. Thank you, Margie Lawson, for getting me hooked on timers. You can do anything for ten minutes. So if you’re dreading writing, set a timer for ten minutes and play what-if. What if your protagonist got stuck in an elevator, in a snow storm, in a phone booth. Just write for ten minutes. You can do it. You might find that you have a real scene you can use, or at least a line of dialogue around which to build a scene.

10. Watch a movie. Jot down great lines of dialogue. Analyze a scene over and over. Or just zone out for a little while and let yourself be entertained. Never be far from your notepad, though. 

I hope you’ll find this new Tips column useful and thought provoking. If something gets you thinking, why not post your thoughts to the list. If you have a topic you’d like to see here, feel free to email me. 

I wish you all a wonderful, prosperous, and creative Autumn. Don’t forget the mantra - BiC-HoK. Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard.


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About the Author:  Jax Hunter is a published romance writer and freelance copywriter. She wears many hats including EMT, CPR instructor, and Grammy. She is currently working on a contemporary romance series set in ranching country Colorado and a historical romance set in 1775 Massachusetts. She lives in Colorado Springs, belongs to PPW, RMFW and is a member of the Professional Writer's Alliance.

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