A creative writing teacher once gave my class some advice I’ll never forget: when it comes to story ideas, it’s best to ride around on the bus with it. In other words, take time to process and decide if it’s the best story and/or story direction. In my mind, there are two types of riding-around-on-the-bus-with-it:
1. Unintentional thinking time: the epiphanies come to you when they come to you.
2. Intentional thinking time: you schedule time to develop ideas, work through plot holes, seam story threads together.
Both are great, but unless you plan on taking a decade to write your next novel, consider deliberately deliberating.
With intentional thinking time, there are two considerations: The When and The What. As to The When, I use the term “schedule” loosely here. It could be any spare five minutes, but before that five minute starts, it’s helpful to give yourself a task (The What): the kernel that needs expanding, the plot bunny that needs cajoling, the character arc that needs developing.
Ideas for The When:
-At bedtime: lately, I’ve taken to writing my plot holes on sticky notes and putting them on the wall by my bed. Before I fall asleep, I read through them and decide which one I want to focus on. If you read before bed, make notes about what to process on a bookmark, so it’s the last thing you see before you close the book.
-In the shower: I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. I do some of my best plotting in the shower. When I’m in the thick of writing a book, I consider it a waste of a shower if I haven’t given myself a problem to work through while I’m in there. I usually read my outline notes for the chapter ahead and then jump in for some creative suds-ing.
-During the commute: if you commute to work by bus, then you can literally ride your ideas around on the bus (or the train or the carshare.) If you drive, concentrate on the road.
-While waiting: never wait in line or in your dentist’s reception area without a mission again. That’s right folks. Pull on those thinking caps and work through those ideas.
I wrote this post for the monthly Insecure Writers Support Group blog hop. To continue hopping or to join the hop, click here. (There are more than 200 of us, and it’s fun!)
Is your creative thinking process intentional, unintentional or a combination? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.