What to Do When You’re Not Writing

If, as I seem to find is true in my own life, starting a story is a matter of listening for the character to come up and start telling me it, then there are sometimes spaces of time in between, where I’m not actually writing. (Could there be a more convoluted sentence?) So what do you do, to fill the time, to prime the pump, to stay in a state of ready-to-write?

Well, for a start, you could write. I know that sounds weird, but keeping those muscles in practice is a good thing. In between real stories, I tend to write a lot of openings that end up losing steam. You could also keep a journal or a weblog, heh heh, or do practice exercises like writing character descriptions, practicing your settings, synopses of novels you’ve read by other people, even your resume. Anything that is getting words on paper will help.

Then there’s reading. Reading is part of writing: you absolutely must read a lot if you want to be a good writer. This might be a good time, while you’re trying to dislodge ideas, to read something outside your usual genre, or start a brand new author. Or it might be a good time to read a bad novel, so as to motivate yourself. “I can do better than this!”

Research, anyone? If you don’t have fun just wandering through research subjects and learning stuff for its own sake, then you might be in the wrong profession. I recommend a brisk game of Chase the Wiki, or a wander through the world of fan-media-tv-sf tropes. Warning, they’re both addictive.

Inspiration needed? I like to look through artwork at great length; it gives me ideas. I often find silly name or idea generators to be inspirational as well. And then there’s this.

And if all else fails, you could always play World of Warcraft. 😀


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Line Larsen
    Sep 05, 2008 @ 10:53:48

    These tips are very useful. Thank you 🙂

    And WoW is my biggest procrastinating activity, unfortunately. I can relate. What server do you play on?

  2. asherose
    Sep 05, 2008 @ 13:19:19

    Several, because I was horribly addicted. I seem to have eased off a little bit. Mostly Staghelm and Ravencrest!

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