(IJCH) Writer's Inspiration - How to Create and Capture it! (Updated for those suffering from "Writer's Block"!)
(IJCH) Writer's Inspiration - How to Create and Capture it! (Updated for those suffering from "Writer's Block"!)
IJCH - Inside JaiChai's Head (Meaning: My Warped, Personal Opinions and Musings)
From the Author:
I am JaiChai.
And if I haven't had the pleasure of meeting you before, I'm delighted to make your acquaintance now.
I invite you to interact with everyone, learn, and have as much fun as possible!
For my returning online friends, "It's always great to see you again!"
This article is for my two online friends who are currently suffering from "Writer's Block".
Preface - "In The Cosmic Flow"
As a writer, when I'm "In The Cosmic Flow", it seems like I can’t type fast enough to express my thoughts on the page!
I create beautiful mental masterpieces; passionately painting nuances here and mysterious shadows there with each additional word, sentence, and paragraph.
Yes, during those times, there seems to be no lack of inspiration or imagination.
It's exhilarating, simply intoxicating - a delicious, intimate experience.
And when finished, I celebrate the adventure and marvel at the results of my efforts.
Sadly, many writers will commiserate with me when I say, "Damn, I wish that these 'In The Cosmic Flow' episodes were the norm instead of the exception!"
So, how does a writer create and capture writer’s inspiration when the writing muse is not to be found?
Here’s how I do it…
Most people go about their days and nights on auto-pilot. They behave like they’ve seen it all so many times that nothing is new or exciting.
But is this really the case?
Indulge me for a few minutes, please.
Below are a few easy exercises/methods that can make you aware of the abundance of previously "hidden" things in your daily life.
Oftentimes, it can tease out memories of long forgotten experiences, places, and people.
How did I come up with these methods?
From years of trial and error!
Over the years, I noticed my distinct psychological patterns - the ebb and flow of mood and motivation. Consequently, I formulated these simple methods that boosted my own awareness and instantly manifested some writer’s inspiration.
If they worked for someone as hard-headed as me, I'm certain they can work for you too.
These methods have the potential to immediately crystallize new ideas for you and enhance your writing creativity.
Shall we charge on?
Step One - Take A "Mental Screen Shot"
Slow down your breathing for a minute or two.
Let your mind wander to a memory of a peaceful place, a pleasant experience, or cherished loved one.
Then, while still controlling your breathing, close your eyes for at least 10 seconds.
Now, open your eyes, look around you, and stop at the first object that catches your eye.
It could be a new object. But most likely, it will be something you’ve seen everyday, but judged as insignificant - not worth any more thought.
It might even be a hint of movement in your peripheral vision that catches your attention. Whatever. Focus on it.
Now mentally press the "pause" button in your mind's eye and "Freeze Frame" the image.
(Another analogy would be to take a quick "Mental Screen Shot".)
It's important that the image is somewhat permanent.
To make sure you’ve captured the image, close your eyes again and see if you can still picture the image in your mind.
If you can’t, do the above steps again until you can.
When you have a non-transient, solid picture in your mind, then go on to Step Two.
Step Two - The Matrix Maneuver (Reverse Panoramic and Self-Panoramic Views)
Remember those scenes in the movie "Matrix" where the person is suspended in mid-air and the camera does a full, 360 degree reverse panoramic view - a view of that person and surroundings from the camera's point of view?
That's what I want you to do now.
Do a "Matrix-Style Reverse Panoramic" view; that is, imagine viewing yourself and then floating the camera around yourself to get a 360 degree reverse panoramic view.
Now do the same thing, but now from your own 360 degree perspective - the "Self-Panoramic View".
Describe what you see and feel. Immediately write it down in as much detail as possible.
Step Three - Postulate and Predict
Now comes the fun part.
Describe what you think happened before your still image. Think of the factors, people, and things needed to result in the current situation - what your mental image portrays.
Be like Sherlock Holmes; reconstructing the events leading up to the crime.
Then go further, try to predict the events that happens afterwards.
In other words, look into the future like Nostradamus and describe what you think will happen next.
For most people, the above exercise will reveal that our daily lives are literally filled to the brim with hidden details; gems waiting to be unearthed.
Step Four - Create Alternate Scenarios
Think of multiple future scenarios (alternate endings to your story).
Look at your first draft.
Don't worry if it's lame. That's normal. Just write another version, but this time write it from a different emotional state.
For instance, if you're currently happy, pretend you're angry, confused, or lonely.
Or imagine how a temperamental or evil clone would think and behave.
Employ all your senses.
Describe how they are affected by the current situation.
Write down real or imagined anxieties, threats, and events that may have happened (or will happen) that changes the theme or the story's final outcome.
You'll notice quickly that most of your versions after the initial one become evermore interesting (both to you and especially to your readers).
Role Play and become someone else.
How differently would that someone think?
Or use Simulation; that is, instead of you changing, change the circumstances.
It's akin to creating a parallel universe where the environment is changed in either subtle or drastic ways.
An Example - The Four Steps in Action
Here’s a quick and simple example:
I am in my bedroom, in front of my laptop, and writing this article right now.
To relax, I slow down my breathing.
Now I close my eyes for ten seconds.
When I open my eyes I see my girlfriend's stuffed animals on the bed and take a "Mental Screen Shot".
To make sure I have captured the freeze framed image, I close my eyes again. I can still picture my "still image" in all its vivid detail in my mind's eye.
Cool. Very cool.
I mentally float the camera around me while I'm suspended in mid-air and mentally register the visuals.
Then I imagine rotating a full 360 degrees and see everything around me from my own perspective.
This always produces intriguing sets of 360 degree panoramic and reverse panoramic views.
Describing What I See and Feel
"I see her stuffed animals on the bed. Her folded T-shirt is beside her pillow and the neatly folded blanket is at the foot of the bed.
Glancing back to her T-shirt, I see her mobile phone headphones and late night novel peeping out from under it.
"Try as she might to enjoy it, reading is just too boring for her. But at least it helps her go to sleep."
I'm aware of the many feelings connected to my visual (i.e., love, gratitude, anticipation, excitement, contentment, humor, etc.).
I imagine the scenes leading up to (or related to) the current situation that can support my assessment or claims to what really happened.
For example, since I leave early every morning to go to work, I can see my girlfriend always waking up to an empty apartment.
"Upon wakening, I imagine her still half asleep, yet lovingly folding our mink blanket - a remnant of my military days in South Korea…"
Then I imagine what might happen next:
"Maybe after changing into some jeans and blouse, she went shopping? Or maybe she’s visiting our sick friend and waiting for me to text her with the time I'll be home from work?" I thought, as I pull out my cel and begin texting...
Creating Alternate Scenarios - Thought Experiments
While employing as many of my senses possible, I think of a different plot or ending to the story.
For example, using the above example, I could write:
"...I looked at the stuffed animals I’d given her on our last visit to the fair.
I walked over to the bed and picked up the Doraemon stuffed toy - a Japanese cartoon character that my girlfriend is very fond of.
Even at arm’s length, I could smell her perfume. God, I missed her! She would still be away for another two days visiting her mother up north.
The toy was almost as soft as her hands, the hands that would instinctively reach for mine while we walked.
Looking at this silly stuffed toy, I let out a long, heavy sigh.
And my soul ached to enjoy her smile, laugh, and tenderness again.
Grudgingly, I deal with the next reminder of our temporary separation: eating alone. To be honest, if she we here, I’d even hold my nose and eat that fishy smelling, weird tasting Thai dish she always recommended!"
Do you see how employing as many senses as possible (sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing) enhances the description of the scenario?
Role Playing - Becoming Someone Else
This is where I imagine and describe playing a different role in the same situation.
(Of course, use the appropriate gender for these examples.)
For instance, how would the above story read if I was an angry boyfriend?
What if I was a womanizing boyfriend?
What if I was a rich boyfriend? A poor boyfriend?
What if I was not a foreigner, but a local Thai boyfriend instead?
What if I was younger or older?
How would I perceive and describe the above "stuffed toy" scenario differently in those roles?
How would the story unfold from that perspective?
Do you see the endless possibilities created just by assuming a different role in the same scenario?
Simulation is different from role playing.
In role playing, you (or your story’s main character) assume a different personality and perspective.
In Simulation you remain unchanged, but the situation or scenario changes.
Just think "Star Trek's Holodeck".
For example, in the previous "Stuffed Animals" story, how would the narrative change if you were the one asleep and your girlfriend (uncharacteristically) left without writing a note to tell you where she was going?
What if we'd been fighting before she left?
What if she did leave a note, but it was a “Dear John” letter?
What if there were signs of another man in the apartment (e.g., a strange brand of cigarette butts in the ash tray, mud of unknown origin tracked through the apartment, beer cans in the trash - at noon, etc.)?
What if our neighbors saw her leave with another man?
What if all of her belongings (jewelry, clothes, cosmetics, laptop, CD’s, etc.) were gone?
What if she or someone else ransacked the apartment and all my belongings were gone too?
Again, do you see the limitless writing/storytelling possibilities open to you just by simulating a different situation or scenario?
Whenever the writing muse is not to be found and I'm at a loss for what to write about, I always go back to the Four Steps outlined in this article.
They've always generated a lot of ideas to write about.
It’s my way of creating and capturing writer’s inspiration.
Try it for yourself.
I’d love to hear what you come up with.
Really Appreciate You Stopping By.
Truly hope to see you again!
And if you liked my post, kindly Upvote, Comment, Follow, and ReSteem.
(This is an updated version of: https://steemit.com/busy/@jaichai/ijch-writer-s-inspiration-how-to-create-and-capture-it and http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/How_to_create_and_capture_writers_imagination.html)
About the Author
Believing that school was too boring, he dropped out of High School early; only to earn an AA, BS and MBA in less than 4 years much later in life – while working full-time as a Navy/Marine Corps Medic.
In spite of a fear of heights and deep water, he performed high altitude, free-fall parachute jumps and hazardous diving ops in deep, open ocean water.
After 24 years of active duty, he retired in Asia.
Since then, he's been a full-time, single papa and actively pursuing his varied passions (Writing, Disruptive Technology, Computer Science and Cryptocurrency - plus more hobbies too boring or bizarre for most folk).
He lives on an island paradise with his teenage daughter, longtime girlfriend and three dogs.