Pep Talk Week #3: Nudging the Muse

Kudos for taking on this awesome JuNoWriMo challenge. Writing 50,000 in a single month is a huge goal, and while you no doubt started inspired and fired up, at some point, you may find yourself feeling uninspired.

So, if and when you run out of steam with your writing, here are five fun ways to nudge the muse.

  1. Create Some Chaos: Stories are fueled by conflict. Conflict shows what kind of stuff your characters are made of. Try sticking two characters in a room and tossing in some conflict. Did one of them renege on a deal? Maybe they discovered they’re both dating the same person. Maybe it’s as simple as disagreeing on where to set the thermostat. It’s not as much about the specific issue as it is about their behaviors and their reactions to the conflict. It’s fascinating the deeper levels of character you can reach through a little exercise in conflict, and creating chaos is a great way to spice things up and get your writing revved back up.
  1. Face the Fear: Just like each of us, every well-drawn character has something they fear. Peter Pan is afraid to grow old. Indiana Jones hates snakes. Find a fear to saddle your character with and then force them to face that fear. If your character is afraid of the dark, blow out their only candle, or drain the battery on their smart phone. One of the best ways to see what your character is made of is to pit them against their phobias. All sorts of things can come to light, just by exploring your character’s darkest fears.
  1. Road Trip!: Transport your character to another location. Give them, and your brain, a change of scenery. 
  1. Set the Mood: Try a little music. Pick a song that matches the tone of the scene you’re writing. Listen, really listen and let yourself take it in. Get up and move to the music. Sway, or hop, or leap, or spin. Soak it up, allow it to shift your emotions and turn them into physical movement. Set it on replay as you resume writing. Let the music move you and your words.
  1. Re-engage Your Senses: When writing, we tend to get focused on the visual. But stories should engage all of our senses. Put yourself inside the story, by waking up your senses. Writing a scene in a coffee shop? Make yourself a fresh cuppa and spend some time savoring the sounds of the coffee maker, the smell of the coffee beans, the taste of the dark roast with a hint of cream. Writing a scene that takes place outdoors? Go outside, close your eyes and inhale. Let yourself really hear, smell, and feel the world. Not only will this exercise give you a short break from the keyboard, it’s also a great way to remind yourself what your character is hearing, smelling, feeling, tasting.

Most of all, take a minute to celebrate your progress to this point and marvel at the awesome power of putting words on the page and bringing your stories and characters to life.

Here’s to finishing strong!

Sharon Skinner holds a BA in English, an MA in Creative Writing, and is a Certified Book Coach. She writes fantasy, science fiction, paranormal, and the occasional steampunk, for audiences of all ages. Skinner is an active member of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and serves as the Regional Advisor for SCBWI AZ.

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