Saturday 12 December 2015
Keeping Motivated & Avoiding Losing Your Spark - The Creative Process
Keeping Motivated & Avoiding Losing Your Spark
When you make up stories for a living, it's hard sometimes to find the inspiration to keep going. There's always something else that needs doing and sometimes it's hard to set yourself some time just for writing. I have a lovely sign on my office door which tells people to keep away when I'm writing, but unfortunately life doesn't always obey. One of the many things I've talked about before is making sure you balance your real life responsibilities alongside those in your writing world. Today, I'm just gonna talk about how to stay motivated when writer's block hits and how to avoid losing your spark when you hit the dead zone.
I know I've written a piece about the mysterious "zone" that many writers and other artists have talked about. It can be found here. The good thing about the zone itself is while it's hard to enter at times, it's always there in the distance as something to aim for. The problem is, how do you stay motivated when all you keep hitting is not the zone itself, but the bit that comes before it - the dead zone.
What is the dead zone, you ask? It's the place where writer's block comes from and ideas go to die. It's that place where so many writers find themselves stuck, with no idea how to get out of it and into the actual zone itself. I've hit it a fair few times myself, both in my youth and in my writing career. It's not fun, because unlike plain old regular writer's block, it comes with a little voice that drains you of all enthusiasm for your work. It's not unlike having a gremlin (pieces on mine can be found here & here.) The problem is finding a way to stay motivated about your project to the point where it will lift you out of the dead zone and help you move forward in your work.
There are numerous ways to do this. Like many excellent writers have said, you should try to write something every day (piece can be found here). You should also be sure to keep your project new and exciting. While I do plan things to a point, I like allowing my characters a little freedom when it comes to how they would react in certain situations. People always say that original characters don't always do as they're told and a good way to try and get past that dead zone is to just allow them to wander from the plot a little. It doesn't have to make it into the final draft; hell, sometimes I do an interview with each one to see if I can find something in their responses that will show me some avenue I've not yet explored. Whatever works, right? ;-)
One thing that is always good for me is to talk to my best friend, and my editor, who both know the stories I write and the characters almost as well as I do. They can help me see a point I'd overlooked and they can help me get back on track, motivated and zooming into the zone without a second thought. Another way is to take a step back, read a book of your chosen genre, spend some time relaxing for as long as time constraints allow and try not to put too much pressure on yourself to write a chapter or two right then. Sometimes we all get a little burnt-out, and the last thing you want to do is make the pressure so high that you just don't want to continue with the work.
Overall, whatever path you choose to climb out of the dead zone, try to stay focused on the end game. You will get over this hump and you will get to a point where you are entering the zone so much that you forget that there was any other way of writing. Be kind to yourself, and allow yourself some breathing room. Writing a novel takes time and you can't rush it, no matter how much you wish you could, something I have learnt a lot recently. Novels come along at their own pace, and after all the work that goes into them, you can understand why. So keep writing, don't give up and you'll get there in the end!
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