Most creative thoughts happen when your mind is left to wander: daydreaming; doing the dishes; walking.
I lifted this from writer MarthaConway.com: This rang true for me. My last novel, Thieving Forest, had a lot of plot components that needed coordination, and in many ways these were cerebral exercises: how long would it take someone to walk through the Great Black Swamp, south to north? How long would it take someone to canoe up the Maumee River? How could these two characters from these two places meet up, and where?
I made lists, and I did a lot of calculations. I wondered how a Potawatomi would greet someone. When a character reminisced about her childhood in 1790, what might she say? All in all I spent a lot of time reading and writing things down. But when I got stuck, I went to the beach.
Whenever I walk along the beach looking at the sand dunes and the ocean waves … I think about my current work-in-progress, my imagination hops from scenario to scenario. I picture characters doing this or that, saying this or that. … often I have an “Ah-ha” moment… and I think, “That’s It.”
Daydreaming is an activity that doesn’t seem to get a lot of buzz lately. Ever since the Puritans came up with their eponymous work ethic, we’re all trying to get a lot more done in a lot less time. I’ve heard podcasts targeted for writers trying to speed up the process of getting a novel finish so that they (we) can write a lot more books. There’s a definite business model for writers that is based on producing as many books as quickly as you can.
However, taking a softer approach is also a worthwhile model. Time away from the keyboard is not necessarily time wasted. Daydreaming, trying out various scenarios in your mind while you walk the dog or do the dishes—all these can make for a more complex, interesting story.
Don’t get me wrong, you still need to put words on paper or screen, and that requires discipline. But taking some time to not write can be very productive. How do you dream your stories?
I so agree with her. My cure for writer’s block is to take a walk in nature – only my dog can come along so my imagination is free to flow.
Martha Conway’s new historical novel, Thieving Forest, has already won several awards. It is the story of “four recently orphaned sisters in 19th-century Ohio, abducted by Potawatomi Native Americans, and a feisty fifth, braves the untamed forest in order to rescue them. The scope of this old-fashioned pioneer adventure yarn is impressive, and the full arc of character development, combined with a satisfying ending, is memorable.” (Publisher’s Weekly). It is on my to-read list!