I was having a conversation with a writer friend who was feeling somewhat uninspired and discouraged with her work. I asked how’d she been spending her non-writing time.
“Aren’t you going to ask me what I’m doing with my actual work in progress?”
“Nope,” I said. After giving me a quizzical look, she said that she hadn’t changed her routine—on anything—in over a year. And she felt that her stories and her characters weren’t exciting.
I told her that might be the issue. “In order to write interesting characters, you need to make yourself a character.” (Not my quote. My ex-manager said this when I was telling him about my vacation. No more information will be provided on this.)
She looked at me and took a sip of wine—the international symbol for: Not sure about this but go on…
Here is what I told her, paraphrased:
*Have experiences. Doesn’t matter if they’re all good. Use them as fodder to make your stories richer and deeper.
*Take risks with your writing. Tackle a genre you never thought you would. Write about a painful or awkward time in your life and push yourself to face it. Even if you don’t use it in your story, it can be a powerful example of how to overcome an obstacle.
*Read widely. For those of us that can’t climb Everest or go back in time to meet our favorite historical figure (Okay, none of us can do that second one. If you can, email me.), reading is a way to get information, a new perspective, and possibly learn something that gets the brain cells revved up.
*Change your routine. Even if it’s just going to the “other Starbucks” for morning coffee, it’s something different. And that little bit of veering off your schedule can help move you off the conveyor belt of the mundane and onto a more creative path.