Friday, January 11, 2013

How to pop your clutch

Sometimes that blank page is a killer, right?

Sitting there, staring at you, empty and seemingly determined to stay that way. People say: "Just start writing," and honestly, that's probably the best advice you'll get (except for what I'm about to blog about, of course...). Just start writing. It's just that simple. Don't worry about your amazing Opening Line until later, until after you've started. That's just a stall anyway, y'know, not starting your project because you just can't think of that perfect Opening Line? It's a stall, a smokescreen. It's nonsense. Just start, you can always come back and fix stuff later, in fact, you have to come back and fix stuff later. I mean, it's called a First Draft for a reason, right? Just start. Don't worry about where anything is going or what it all means, just cut those break lines and shove off down hill. Why not? What's the worst that can happen? It turns out to be nothing? You delete it and start something else? Big deal. Just start. No one's watching, what do you care?

Ah... but then, sometimes that blank page seems to actively resist that, right? Just start? Sometimes that is easier said than done.

So what do you do then?

Basically--I have found--you have to trick yourself. Think of it like starting a car with a manual transmission while rolling. Sometimes you have to trick your process to life, the idea being that once you get your pen going, chugging away under its own power, you're golden.

But what's the trick, you ask?

Well, admittedly, it could be anything. What works for you, works for you, right? But for the purposes of this specific blog, we'll focus on this one thing... SO... when you inevitably find yourself in that situation, as we all have, here's a hill to pop your imagination's clutch on.

Follow this link here.

On the other side of that link, you will find Io9, a sci-fi website, and one of the things it does on a semi-regular basis is listed under the tag: Concept Art Writing Prompts. I may have mentioned this link before. It's a lot of random drawings and pictures akin to the book The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. And like that well known book, the prompts you will find there are odd and interesting, and all capable of sparking an idea or a world, maybe short story, maybe even a novel. It's a fantastic resource, who knows what you'll see.

Here's a smattering of what you will find there:

Crazy, huh? What do you see? World War 2 era Russian soldiers dragging the head of a downed robot back from the snowy front? Just another day at the Super-Science Factory? Explorers in the ruins of a long gone world? A street vendor selling the latest in cool nostalgic tech? An off-world Farmer's Market? The last gas before entering the jet stream? The old world huddled in the shadow of the new?

So many possibilities. So if you're out there and you find yourself stuck, unsure, scared and can't get anything going? Well relax, take a deep breath, there's no one looking, it's just you and a bunch of cool and weird pictures. Pick one and start rolling down hill.

Just start,


Qlaudie said...

Great resource, Jon.

Lisa said...

I find the waking/dreaming moments before full consciousness a nice mine for creativity.

Jon said...

Good one. I also like snippets of news stories