It’s 3 am and I’m wide awake. I suspect it has something to do with hubby snoring loudly in my ear. Okay, 8 inches away. Anyway, I woke up and wanted to write. At first I thought my NaNo project and started thinking of scenes, and then I thought of last year’s creativity question asked in the forums and all over: is your creativity/productivity linked to a particular location? For a significant percentage of people, it was.
This can be a both a small advantage and a serious handicap. I had a favorite writing place before we moved where my ideas flowed easier and I wrote more than when I wrote elsewhere, but I still could write elsewhere. Some people can’t and I get it. I was severely shaken when we moved and I lost my writing place. It took a year for me to find my groove again in the new house. That’s a problem. Having a writing place your muse just lives in is great. Just being there can put you in the groove. But being able to just sit down anywhere and write is handy. Having both options available to you is clearly optimal. Here are some little tricks I use to get me going when my muse seems to have stayed in my preferred writing spot:
Instead of picking up where I left off in my book, I start a new scene. I always do this if I’m writing on my tablet or phone (as I’m doing now) because I rarely have the actual book loaded onto them. This gives me flexibility, I don’t have to remember where exactly I was, only that this scene was coming up. I’ll have to write it eventually, why not now? (For anyone who’s wondering, I almost always have phones with physical keyboards for this reason. I can type faster, longer with fewer errors and frustration on a physical keyboard so it doesn’t bother me to write long passages on a tiny device. Also, small bluetooth keyboards are available. They’re cheap and about the size of my Droid Bionic when I carried that. It worked well.)
If I’m still struggling, I pick a better scene. I have sex scenes written for books I haven’t officially started in the Lexi Frost series because of this. I have the series loosely outlined, so I can do that. Many of the key pick up and reveal scenes are written too. I’m only partway through book 6, but I have scenes written that are probably for book 9 or 10 looking at the rate the story’s unfolding. Scary.
But what if you’re such a pantser you don’t know what a future scene is going to be to write that? Well, figure it out. If you’re partway through a scene and find yourself away from your happy place, you have a choice: you can try to finish the scene, or you can imagine it’s done, your hero has slain the dragon (you’ll go back later and figure out exactly how and write that) and now it’s time for the after party.
Outlining a book can really get your creative juices flowing. In truth, I’m terrible at it. My outlines, when I have them, aren’t a pretty formatted classical outline with roman numerals and indentations. My outlines are just a list:
Intro Viv: 70, divorced, kids’ reaction, haircut, cruise
Meets Charlie, warns her abt drinking, talk abt cruises
They play poker a lot,
Charlie drinks scotch, Viv experiments with fruity drinks w/ umbrella
Charlie takes to fav shop of shipwreck items
Buys her locket
On way back to ship meets diver, charlie haggles
Viv rummages through box of salvage, silver flask breaks
That’s part of my outline from Be Careful What You Wish For and it covers about ten pages. It was my NaNo novel in 2009, and proves it can be done. For your outline, it’s okay if it starts really general, like:
You have to admit, that’s basic. Fine. Now add to it.
Intro MC – she’s awkward teen flunking math w/crush on football quarterback, also has power to freeze things.
Great. Now more that applies to the opening scene. (since we seem to be starting at the beginning)
Intro MC – she’s awkward teen flunking math w/crush on football quarterback, also has power to freeze things. She’s sitting in class staring at back of quarterback’s head, gets excited & freezes her pen. It leaks all over her hand & notebook.
Fantastic, I’m starting to see a scene in here, it just needs to be filled in. Like a sidekick was mentioned? Best friend perhaps? Villain who is…? Goal…? I’m not writing this, you get the idea. You outline, then keep adding more details until it’s really just a matter of connecting the ideas in book format. You know those “write 10,000 words/day” methods? This is how they do it. They outline the hell out it first so it’s essentially prewritten. It really does work.
Even if you don’t write much outside of your writing place, if you can outline so you can be more productive when you get back to that hallowed ground, you’re doing great.