Camy here, talking today about how freewriting is saving my sanity.
Yes, it’s true, I’m not being melodramatic (although Ruthy would probably differ—hush, woman!).
Usually, when I’m brainstorming a new novel, I am armed with a pen, Post-It notes, and my closet doors:
For this next novel, I sat and stared at those darn closet doors for a couple hours. No ideas. Nada. Just blank doors and a stack of Post-It notes.
One thing I’ve learned is that each novel I write is different. Sometimes I write it in a different way: less plotting or more plotting. Character charts or no character charts. Plot came first or characters came first. Sometimes, the writing comes easily and sometimes it’s like pulling teeth from a fish.
It is true for this next novel, too—I couldn’t brainstorm the way I normally brainstorm a book.
So, I fell back on one of the first techniques I learned, freewriting.
I discovered the power of freewriting when I read the book Finding Your Writer’s Voice by Thaisa Frank and Dorothy Wall. Many of the exercises included a time of freewriting to get my brain into right-brain creative mode, and to help release inhibitions as I wrote so that I could bring out more of my natural, raw writer’s voice.
So, I got on my computer with a fresh file in Word and started just writing ideas for this new book, in any order.
I wrote character quirks and scene ideas. I wrote snippets of dialogue that didn’t really make sense, but I didn’t stop to scold myself, I just kept going.
Eventually I started focusing more and more on my heroine. I knew the basic story premise—my heroine is going to do the Couch to 5K running training program. Other than that, I had no clue.
So I created her family, spitting out ideas (many of them contradictory). I created her friends and workplace. I created her self-image and faith. I didn’t stop to think if any of this congealed, I just threw out ideas as they came to me. Some of them I liked.
Strangely, I didn’t come up with many ideas I didn’t like. I just kept writing. I think I’d gotten into that mode where the good stuff is coming out of my fingers, so I kept typing.
By the time I was done with ideas, I had a nice file, and surprisingly, most of it was usable.
Now, I still didn’t have an external goal, or much of an internal arc, and the hero was almost nonexistent (this is supposed to be a romance, not a women’s fiction). But I had something, which was more than I had after two hours staring at my stupid closet doors.
So I guess my point is, when you’re stuck on a new story idea, try freewriting! Or maybe some of you already have done that. Share your stories in the comments!
Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. Her novel Single Sashimi is out now, and her romantic suspense, Deadly Intent, is out next month. She runs the Story Sensei critique service, is a staff worker for her church youth group, and leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service. On her blog, she gives away Christian novels every week and ponders frivolous things. Sign up for her newsletter YahooGroup for monthly giveaways!