A Creator’s Journey #14–The Creative Power of Absolutely Nothing

The other day, I announced that Ferryman was available for pre-order, so I should be focusing on that, right? Ha! You mistake me for someone who has control over himself! No, I’ve been working on a totally new and unrelated novel.

Well, I was until I hit a wall.

Twelve characters enter a room. All twelve must be introduced physically and all twelve belong to different races, some established like centaurs and mermaids, others totally made up. All twelve must also communicate their twelve different backgrounds, twelve different reasons for joining this quest that’s about to embark, and twelve different attitudes/personalities reacting to everything that happens in this scene.

Question: how to do it without dragging on for pages and pages with constant stop-and-go or lengthy yet necessary descriptions?

Answer: Eh, I’ll figure it out later.

That’s not quite procrastination. I legitimately know I’d figure it out later.

Sometimes, the best thing you can do when you have writer’s block or you’re getting bogged down by too many details is to walk away and do something else for a week. Read a book, go for a few walks, hang out with people, or work on a different project. Either the idea will come to you on its own or you can come back with fresh eyes and a fresh mind, helpful traits for getting over a writing hump.

Writing is the assembly of ideas. All those thoughts float around the writer’s head, clicking and unclicking as needed. With all our hopes, experiences, research, and inspirations, there are countless possibilities. Sometimes, all those possibilities get jumbled and none of them seem to work. However, just because you aren’t actively working on a story doesn’t mean the pieces aren’t still flying around in your head, trying to find a working connection.

That’s why so many “Aha” moments happen away from the keyboard. Those ideas keep rubbing up against others, and often times they work better on their own, when you’re not trying to force them like mismatched puzzle pieces. And that’s why such amazing ideas come to you in the shower, at work, or just when you lay your head down to sleep.

We writers can’t truly turn off. Sometimes it’s a problem, but when we’re stuck, it’s nice to know our brains keep working in the background, reorganizing data into new options or assimilating new data with old pieces.

So, if you’re stuck or overwhelmed, leave the project for an hour, a day, a week, depending on your schedule. Come back to it fresh or let the idea come to you on its own.

Because guess what. Just today, a few days after giving up, the answer came to me: a plan to introduce all twelve characters slowly, yet deliberately in a way that keeps the narrative flowing with proper chapter breaks to segment a long scene into bite-size pieces.

If it doesn’t work, it’s okay. The ideas will come together eventually.

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