Writers In The Storm is pleased to welcome a new guest blogger. I have the incredible pleasure of being in a local chapter with Kimberly Kincade and cheering her on as she swept the contest scene and then secured a fantabulous contract for her foodie novels. She obviously has a winning recipe so who better to talk about overcoming writer's block? Help me welcome Kimberly to WITS! - Orly Konig-Lopez
As writers, we all know the scenario: You sit down in your trusty chair. It’s quiet, all the chores are done, you’ve got nothing on the agenda but to write. You’re all ready to go, fingers poised over the keyboard, and…nothing. Nada, zip, zero, nothing comes out. Writer’s block can strike swiftly and be oh-so cruel, but don’t worry! While they’re different for every writer, there are ways to jump-start yourself back into the zone. Here are a few things I do when The Block strikes.
Step Away From the Keyboard. Yes, I know this sounds counter-intuitive. You’re supposed to be writing! But that blank screen can give your mind the same idea sometimes, so don’t be afraid to do something else that will engage you. Watch an episode of your favorite show and watch how the characters interact. Go to Starbucks and eavesdrop a bit on people interacting. Or get out and do something solitary that will let your mind wander, like gardening or taking a walk (I have one writer-friend who swears she gets the best ideas ever while in the shower. Mine tend to hit while I’m behind the wheel). Whatever you choose, allow yourself permission to think freely. The sparks will follow.
Read. Read some more. Books by others aren’t just a source of oh-yes in the down-time department. They can be an incredibly valuable resource in getting our creative juices going. You might choose someone who writes very differently than you, just to see what options are out there. Or you might feel better reading someone similar to you, to “remind” yourself of your path. Whatever you pick, reading can be a great bribe for your muse!
Talk it Out. Some of my most inspired ideas have come from conversations that started with the phrase, “I need an idea for a book!” I’m fortunate enough to have five incredible critique partners, all of whom have said this, and heard me say it, at some point or another. Noodling things out with another person can flesh out ideas, and often offers up surprises as well as sparks. Sometimes I have no idea my hero had a dark past or my heroine wanted to open up her own cooking school until I hash out threads of ideas with my CPs. And once I figure it out, I’m off to the races.
Let’s Get Visual, Visual! Like many people out there, I am a very visual creature. I write foodie romance, and so the grocery store is a hotbed of inspiration for me (I’m reminded of the time I wrote half a scene in the middle of Costco because the bunches of bananas sparked a whopper of a story idea. Always keep a pen and notebook in your bag, people!) But your visual inspiration can come from anywhere. Magazine pictures, people in their cars at stop lights, stories on the news, all of these things have the potential to get your brain un-blocked if you really look at them.
Toys. My inner kid loves this one, and chances are, yours will too. Whether they’re designed specifically to shatter your writer’s block or they’re just plain fun to play with, toys can get your creativity out of a lurch. I won a set of Writing Blocks Idea Dice from the lovely Mia Zachary last year, and they are a fabulous writing tool when I’m stuck. They’ve got possible plot elements, conflicts, and character tropes on them, and you essentially roll them to come up with the framework for a story. You can use all of them if you’re just starting out, or just one or two if you’re stuck on a particular element. They’re tons of fun, and I’ve surprised myself more than once playing with them.
So tell me, writer friends! What methods do you employ to banish The Block? What works best for your style? And how do you keep those ideas flowing?
Kimberly Kincaid writes contemporary romance that splits the difference between sexy and sweet. When she's not sitting cross-legged in an ancient desk chair known as "The Pleather Bomber", she can be found practicing obscene amounts of yoga, whipping up anything from enchiladas to éclairs in her kitchen, or curled up with her nose in a book. Kimberly is a 2011 RWA Golden Heart® finalist who lives (and writes!) by the mantra that food is love. She is thrilled to have collaborated on a Christmas anthology with Donna Kauffman and Kate Angel, titled The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap, to kick off her Pine Mountain foodie series with Kensington this October. Her first full-length novel, Turn Up the Heat, will follow in February 2014. Kimberly resides in northern Virginia with her wildly patient husband and their three daughters.
You can find out more about Kimberly on her website - www.kimberlykincaid.com
On Twitter at @kimberlykincaid
And on Facebook.