Monday, February 18, 2013

What To Do When Your Brain Is Fried Like An Egg & There Is No Creativity Left

Sometimes, (Okay, A LOT of times), my brain is fried. Like an egg. Like a deep-fried stick of butter. Artery-clogging kind of fried. SO fried that I wonder if it will ever return to normal.
My vat of creativity is at one hundred percent empty.
Zip. Zilch. Nada.
Here’s something else you should know about me.
I LOVE spoken-word poetry. Like, to embarrassing amounts.
Another thing I love to distraction: TED Talks.
So much love, in fact, I use them as rewards and motivational bribey.
And when those two loves of mine collide?
*fangirl squeeeeee*
Sarah Kaye.
Besides for the fact that she is wonderfully talented, and so incredibly fun, and her speech (which you can watch right here) was super excellent, she introduced me to my newest tool of how to get out of a creative rut when absolutely nothing else seems to be working.
It’s called ‘Things I Know To Be True’
Here’s how it works.
Without thinking too hard (THIS IS KEY), write down the first five (or ten) things that you know to be true.
For example.
I have an unhealthy relationship with my post-its.
I miss my brothers, who are in school in Florida.
My bangs are long, and I should really cut them again.
I want to go on a road-trip. Anywhere. Right now. Preferably somewhere warm.
It smells like cookies, and now I want to eat cookie dough.
After you have your list, take a look at it. Go back and expand on the things you know to be true. Ask yourself questions about the statements you made. 
Why do I have an unhealthy relationship with Post-Its? What about my brothers do I miss? Why do I have bangs, and what possesses me to cut them myself? Why do you want to go on a road-trip? What about the smell of cookies baking makes you want to risk salmonella?

Then, like any good psychologist, ask another question based on the answer. And another one. Until it's not just about my bangs, but the stories about the wig-styling course I took. (See? More interesting than long bangs.) Until it's not just about the original statement, but of all the things that the statement is made up of. All the feelings you have. All the word associations. All the memories. All the scars and bumps and bruises. It may sound a little funny to say, but when it boils down to it, a lot of the time, even though we cite external things as inspiration, the inspiration really comes from inside ourselves.

Now, when Sarah does this exercise, she does it to help with writing poetry. It works incredibly well. The exercise, even if you aren't trying to necessarily write anything is a good way of getting your creative juices to flow again. 

Let's say you're writing something a bit longer- a novel, perhaps.

Do the Things I Know To Be True exercise as your main character.
It's incredible what you end up finding out about your MC- about their personality, about their background, and about what's going to happen in your own manuscript. Not only does it help you get your creative juices flowing, it makes your writing more nuanced. Makes your characters more real.

PRACTICE ROUND: QUICK! In the comments below, tell me five things YOU know to be true.

And as always, if it so inspires you to, please feel free to share this with others who may get value from it as well.

No comments:

Post a Comment