Writing Without Thinking
Sometimes when I sit down to write, my brain feels like a jumbled mess. It’s as if I just drank 10 cups of coffee and someone grabbed ahold of my head and shook it for 10 minutes. Trying to write when I feel that way is painful.
I’ve tried a few times to fill out a character worksheet, creating a character from nothing doesn’t work for me. I have found something that works well for me for creating character backstories that form the characters nicely.
A stream-of-consciousness exercise is not only good to help clear the clutter, it’s also like a meditation, it opens up your mind when you’re feeling blocked.
Start by writing what comes to mind. It doesn’t need to make sense; you need not worry about punctuation, spelling, grammar, and it doesn’t even need to be legible. Write as much as you can as quickly as possible. The point is to get it out. You can do it until you feel you’ve got nothing left to say or you can do a timed session for 5 or 10 minutes. What you write may not even have anything to do with what you intended, it may only be a grocery list that’s been on your mind for a while. But that grocery list needed to come out of you.
Once you are done, you can start asking yourself questions about your characters. Something like, what is their greatest fear, is a great question. What were they like as a child? What makes them angry? What breaks their heart?
Let your character tell their story on the page and they will create themselves before your eyes. They will end up telling you their story instead of you trying to figure out who they are and getting it all wrong.
Again, don’t worry about grammar, punctuation, spelling, it doesn’t need to make sense, and you never need to read it again. Scribble out whatever comes to mind. Once you’re done with that you can take legible notes on what you’ve learned and form your character a little more from that.
This has worked amazingly for me to clear the brain fog. It brings ideas, storylines, it helps me solve problems, and allows me to write more. Using this method, everything flows more freely without my thinking about what is right and wrong getting in the way.
Andi Lutz lives in Kansas with her husband, 4-year-old daughter, 2 dogs, and 3 cats, and she makes lots of grocery lists before she ever gets to the nitty gritty.