Hello, Katy Lee here. To begin this post in my “list fashion,” let me first start off by annoucing my guest blogger next Sunday. (9/11) Published author, Sandra Orchard, will be here to tell us about her stint at a writer’s police academy. If you write suspense, or anything that requires a police procedure, stop on by. Sandra’s newest release, DEEP COVER is now available, and to celebrate, I will be giving one lucky commenter a free copy!
Now with that checked off my list, onto the next item…
When it comes to shopping lists, I don’t leave home without one. When it comes to vacation lists, no item gets left behind. When it comes to Honey-Do lists, I get to watch my man do manly things. And when it comes to lists for my new story ideas, characters are born.
The act of brainstorming for me does not begin with an outline, or with mapping, but with a list. Before I do anything, I put pen to paper, jotting down anything that comes to my mind. Interesting settings, careers for characters, personalities and values, and then obstacles. The outcome is a real messy compilation of ideas, sometimes even a little hard for me read, but let’s face it, writing isn’t pretty. So, from these lists, I am now able to take my ideas and form that story outline or character arc. Something I would not have been able to do if I hadn’t started with a list.
The trick with any brainstorming activity, whether you make lists or not, is to give yourself the freedom to write anything. We live in a world where we are graded on everything we do. Because of that, we fear failure. I once took part in a brainstorming workshop where the leader led us through various techniques to get the pen moving, and after we finished, some people raised their hands to volunteer their ideas. As much as I wanted to join them, I couldn’t. I feared mine wouldn’t be as good as everyone else’s. But after hearing so many different outcomes, I realized there wasn’t a right idea or a wrong idea. Failing grades were not handed out, because during the brainstorming process the judge was given the boot.
The Unlocked Secret: During the creative process, judgment is not allowed. Not even if you’re the judge. Write anything that comes to your mind. Enumerate; don’t evaluate. Just get your ideas down on paper. This is just the list, and lists are made for checking off and crossing out AFTER you’ve completed the task. You can let the judge back in the door later when you start the outline.
Question: How do you get your creative juices flowing? Please share your techniques with us.