In my last post, I explained that I’m a pantser (I write by the seat of my pants) because that’s the best way—for me—to hear my subconscious ideas of what to write. But maybe one reason why some of us are plotters and some of us are pantsers is because we all need to use different techniques to tap into our subconscious.
The comments last time made me realize why I don’t write things down ahead of time. (Love my commenters—making me think. *smile*) My big weakness in self-editing is seeing how something I’ve already written could be approached a different way. Once something is on the page (or screen, as the case may be), the pieces often lock into place in my mind. Then I have a hard time breaking the writing into pieces again to see other potential solutions until someone else points out the possibilities.
Because of that, I don’t want to write down ideas for plot or character arcs unless I know that’s the way my muse wants me to go. He’s a much better writer than I am. I trust that he has a plan, and I don’t want to screw it up. So I’ve trained myself to be aware of whether an idea comes from my conscious mind or my subconscious.
It helps that my muse is male and sounds nothing like me. *smile* But it also helps that I never consciously make suggestions (“What if this?” “How about that?”). Because I’m rarely trying to consciously come up with ideas, I know any thoughts must have come from my subconscious, my muse.
Many writers talk about getting story ideas while driving, falling asleep, or taking a shower. Those are all things that can lull our conscious mind into silence and allow our subconscious voice to sound a little louder in comparison. I know all those techniques have worked for me.
But what if we’re consciously trying to find a solution to a writing problem? What if we’re stuck on a scene or plot twist and need to fix it? How can we force our subconscious—a fickle thing under the best of circumstances—to rise to the occasion when we need it?
As part of preparing for NaNo (National Novel Writing Month—writing 50K words during the month of November), I figured now would be a good time to open the floor to suggestions. Those of us doing NaNo (I’m there as Jami Gold) might need all the tips we can get to help us through those times when we’re stuck. *smile*
Here’s a list to get us started:
- Brainstorm ideas with family or writing friends
- Drive aimlessly
- Take a shower
- Focus on the question while falling asleep (I’ve often woken up with the answer in the morning)
- Clean, garden, or do laundry (or other “mindless” tasks)
- Work on other art or “gut feel” projects
- Bounce ideas off your dog, cat, or other pet
- Take a walk
- Think of how another story handled that plot issue and twist it (maybe into the opposite approach)
- Change the point-of-view for the scene
- Ask the characters
- Do a virtual “dartboard” and pick a random event to throw into the story and shake things up (one writer swore by inserting a dead body)
- Back up to the last place the story felt “right”
- Go back to our premise or story seed and remember why we wanted to write this story
- Use a beat sheet to see if we’re off track
- Figure out what should happen later in the story and see if that fills in blanks
- Write a different scene
- Start writing things we know aren’t right and see if our muse shows up to take over
- Set a timer for five minutes and write every crazy possibility
- Do a word sprint to force ourselves into the moment
- Act out a scene—what would we do next?
- Take my class (You knew I had to sneak that in there, right? *grin*)
Okay, I’ll make up for that shameless plug by announcing a contest. My “Lost Your Pants? The Impatient Writer’s Guide to Plotting a Story“ class will help writers develop their story just enough to write faster—perfect timing for NaNo—and now you have the chance to win a one-on-one feedback session with me to go over your story. Sign up for the class by Monday, October 22, 2012, and then enter the contest for an opportunity to have me check your homework, get brainstorming help, work through trouble spots, etc.
(If you’re viewing this post away from my website and the Rafflecopter giveaway doesn’t show up, click through to go directly to the post.)
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Do you have trouble getting your subconscious in gear when you need it? How do you get in touch with your muse? Do you have tips to share? Which tips have worked best for you in the past? Do you worry about keeping your conscious ideas separate from the ideas from your subconscious (or is that just me)?Pin It