Workshop 2: Fried Brains and Ham
What do you do when you’ve been trying to write, but you’re stuck? Jenny B. Jones (right), four-time Carol Award winner of adult and young adult novels, brought her trademark humor to Fried Brains and Ham (j/k): Unclogging that Writer’s Block.
How to overcome brain freeze
- Free write as your character. Journaling in the moment when you’re stuck can be especially helpful.
- Do a writing prompt. Many can be found in Writer’s Digest or on the internet. It doesn’t have to be related to your current story.
- Throw in the unexpected. Either consider what the reader would expect to happen next and do the opposite, or think about what the character would least expect.
Ways to spur creativity
Engaging in activities other than writing can help. Jones suggested.
- Get up and move. Within 10 minutes of sitting, Jones said, your brain and body begin to shut down. Move around for 10 minutes every hour. Also, your brain likes water, so keep some at your desk.
- Stay in bed. Your mind is most creative the first 10 minutes after waking up. Think about your story and make some notes before getting out of bed.
- Change your routine. When you do the same things at the same time every day, your brain begins to act on autopilot.
- Catch a diversion. See a movie, watch a game, or play with your kids. Your brain will keep processing the story while you focus on other things.
- Read/see/do something that isn’t you. Read a new magazine, visit a new place, go to a museum.
- Keep an image library. It can include characters, pictures, articles. Jones especially likes Pinterest.com. Also, keep an idea file with names, dialogue, characters, and story ideas you can refer to when you get stuck.
- Create a soundtrack. Music can be instrumental or have lyrics and should help get you in the mood of the scene or story.
The “Big Idea”
This can be done with a group or alone. First, state your problem: A plot point you’re stuck on, a question you can’t solve. Then list 20 possible solutions, no matter how dumb they sound. You must write them down, and you cannot edit yourself or say the word but to defend yourself when others give you ideas. Sometimes it can be helpful to do this with writers in different genres or non-writers.
Finally, when suffering from Deep Fried Brain, a longer term ailment affecting your writing as a whole and not just one story, Jones recommended the book The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron.