I’ve discussed curing writer’s block, but what about preventing writer’s block? How can you stop it before it starts? I’ve once heard that Beethoven got his creative juices flowing by dunking his head underneath cold water before he started working on compositions. He used this habit as a trigger. In Thomas Locke’s Opening Keynote at Realm Makers 2016, he introduced the idea of writing triggers. To jumpstart his creative process, he began by listening to a movie sound track that he only listened to while writing. For each book he wrote, he had a bestselling author he’d picked out and a book he would only read while writing that particular book. Creativity isn’t a one-size-fits-all process. Everyone has a different trigger. So, how can you awaken your creative muse?
Are you a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learner? Recently, I’ve found that I’m a kinesthetic learner. I’m very descriptive when it comes to feelings, but sometimes lack visually-orienting details in my writing. I like music and sound, but I can tell it has much stronger affects on other members of my family than it does me. Find out the primary sense you use—either by taking a quiz or by observing your writing—to find your ideal writing trigger. Feel free to combine multiple writing triggers.
If you find a particular image that inspires you, save it onto a Pinterest board and gather all of your story inspiration into one place. If you’d like, take 5-15 minutes before you write and just scroll through the images on your board. Don’t wander! It’s easy to get off a tangent when you’re on Pinterest.
If you search adult coloring books, you’ll find lots of fun, intricate designs to color. Try setting aside a limited amount of time before you write to color in a particular page. If you’d like an extra creative burst, only use this coloring book or this particular coloring page before you work on this writing project. You’re getting into the habit of kick starting your creativity, and the best way to start a habit is by using a consistent cue.
If you’d like something more physical than Pinterest, try this out. I first heard the idea from Storyworld First. In Storyworld First, Jill Williamson talks about a storyworld bible, where you keep all of your storyworld information in one place: the maps, the customs, the creatures, the room layouts, the food, the buildings. Instead of simply typing this information into a Word document, print out images that remind you of your world and inspire you. Stick them onto a poster board and keep the board next to your desk to inspire you. This is particularly useful in the speculative genre or historical, though if you’re creative, you can find uses for it in other genres. For example, maybe you’re writing about a chef. You can paste some of his/her favorite culinary dishes onto the board. Maybe you could have pictures of what your character looks like, their style of clothing, their favorite activities, their pets, or their homes.
Just as Thomas Locke reads part of a certain book only when he’s working on a story, maybe you could set aside 10 minutes before you write to watch a scene of a movie that inspires you.
Try purchasing an entire movie soundtrack, but only listen to it before or while you’re working on that particular project. Since an entire album of movie soundtracks has multiple instrumentals and music recordings to fit the mood of a particular scene, do the same with your project and use different music recordings to fit the mood of the current scene you’re writing. Of course, you don’t have to use an entire soundtrack for the book you’re writing, but personally, I think only using a single song per book might get tedious after a while.
Many apps offer sound affects or you can search sound affects on YouTube. See if finding the appropriate sound affect (playing rain when it’s raining in your novel) helps you write.
Coloring Book (Also for Visual people)
If you search adult coloring books, you’ll find lots of fun, intricate designs to color. Try setting aside a limited amount of time before you write to color in a particular page. If you’d like an extra creative burst, only use this coloring book or this particular coloring page before you work on this particular story.
For my current project, I purchased emerald thinking putty from Crazy Aaron’s. I love thinking putty, because it gives me something to play with when I come to a lull in my writing. I’m going to purchase a different type of thinking putty for each writing project. Check out Crazy Aaron’s website, and you might find a putty you like! They have glow-in-the-dark putty, magnetic putty, and color changing putty. An alternative to this is stress balls and squishy things.
Textures and Cloths
Get a small sample of a certain cloth or texture that you only use or feel when you write.
Take a walk you particularly enjoy. See if you can only use this particular route while working on this project.
Essential oils come in tons of different scents. If you can’t find the one you’re looking for, go for scented candles or car fresheners. Before writing, dab some on your wrists, your neck, or simply take a whiff. Try to use this scent only before writing this particular project.
Books and Authors
I attribute this idea to Thomas Locke. For every writing project, he gives it a best-selling author and a book that he reads, as I mentioned above. My only concern is that this might change your writing style, but maybe that’s what you’re going for.
Do you have any writing trigger ideas? How do you awaken your creative muse?