Aiding the Quarantine Blues

So here we are, all cozy and crazy in our abodes. We know creative types can feel stifled when we're forced to be in one place all the time and not able to explore, even if most of us can skew towards the introverted side of things. We've seen many posts of people saying they can't summon the will to write at the moment, so we'd like to showcase some ideas that might help.

1- Go outside. Maintain social distancing, of course, but even if you just go onto your porch for a few minutes each day, it’s time out in the sun, out of the house. Breathe in the fresh air, relax and unwind for a moment or two. Look around you. In your head, describe what you see… the colors, the sounds, the smells, the sights. Use as many descriptive words as possible to bring your environment to life, to jump start your creativity.

2- Indulge in media. As authors, sometimes there just isn’t enough time in the day to support other creatives. Use this time to do that! Watch a movie you’ve wanted to watch, read a book that’s been in your TBR pile. Try something in a genre different from what you usually watch/read. Note what you like about the storytelling, about the plot, the pacing. Really think about the behind-the-scenes information of how it was put together, and see if any ideas spark from what you’ve watched/read that you can make your own.

3- Re-read past work. Your ideas didn’t just stall out of nowhere. At some point, you wrote yourself into a corner, ignored your muses, or dashed ahead and skipped great options to add more depth to your work in progress. When you realize these things, you get blocked because you have no idea where to go from whatever road you’ve stuck yourself on. Go re-read the work you’ve done previously. See if there are any parts that just don’t fit right, or if you could add more to some of the narrative to make it come alive. If you’ve ignored your muses, step back and read the piece objectively, and see if any ideas pop up that you didn’t give a voice to before. Edit some of the work if you need to, anything to get excited about the writing again.

4-Try something new. Many of us get into a rut with our characters. They act a certain way. They do things like this in a situation. Toss in something new. Maybe your character comes across something they haven’t before, so they have no frame of reference for it. Maybe you do a dream scene or a scene where they’ve accidentally (or purposely) gotten a hold of a mind-altering substance. What would you character do when the rules are tipped upside down? When there are no rules? Think of the strangest, oddest, most insane situation your character could be in… then find a way to put them there and let it play out.

Bonus, because dealing with something outside of their normal level of scope tends to change a character, you can use it to reference back to so that your character can grow and adapt better to other things. Maybe they have nightmares or flashbacks. Maybe something happened that scared the hell out of them for the future. Maybe they learned things about themselves they didn’t expect, and now have to deal with the ramifications of it. Opening the boundaries to what you’ve set as “your character traits” can have a massive impact on getting past a block and enjoying the process again.

5- Search for inspiration under every nook and cranny. Read/watch the news and learn about current events in the world, especially things that might affect your character or their loved ones. Hop on Deviant Art and look at the fan art. Read everything you can get your hands on… after all, a great writer is a voracious reader. Delve into mythology, muck about on Google looking up random things. Watch the strange shows on TV you usually just scan past. People watch when you’re out and about, and make up stories about the people you see. Anything and everything in the world around you can be used for inspiration if you just open your eyes and see it. Real life events and actions can be an amazing catalyst for a plot, you just have to make the event/action fit in with your own character’s life instead of yours.

6- Give yourself a break. If all else fails, don’t push yourself. Sometimes we’re simply physically, mentally, or emotionally tired. Give yourself permission to step back and take some time away. Use it to do other things… update your website, revamp your branding, organize teasers, sort swag… these are all things we all have to do, but if we do them when we can’t write, then we’re still being productive. Later, when we’re able to write freely again, those mundane tasks are done, so we won’t have to stop what we’re doing to go handle those.

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