It’s really hard to pick up a story that’s been dead for months and try to breathe life into it. I read over the twenty or so pages that are on paper so far, and that helped me a little bit to remember where I’m going with “All Right.” I also had my trusty outline, which has continued to be really helpful (All Right is the first story I’ve ever made a master outline for). But as I sat down this week to write, looking at the blank page was overwhelming. The story still felt dead.
The way I ended up kicking this to the curb this week was by looking up pictures of my characters. A lot of writers like to do this on Pinterest, but you can use Facebook (stalk your friends!), Google, or even free stock photo sites like Unsplash.com. Whatever you end up doing, try to find three or four images that represent your character. Jess wound up with several images: a diploma, a brand-new pregnancy selfie, and a sunset swim picture. These were all pictures that helped crystallize for me who this character is, what she cares about, and what’s important to her. More than just defining facial features or eye color (which can be helpful), cherry-picking specific types of pictures can force you to ask questions about who your character is. It’s an incredibly helpful way to character-build and get back on track with a stalled story.
So I found my pictures for Jess, and I’ll be printing some of them out to paste in the front of my draft notebook. Next time you’re stuck on a story, try picture-hunting as a way to get your creative juices flowing. And of course, don’t forget to write often — new words on paper are always, always the best way to stay in the flow of a story!
Yes, I DID keep my challenge from last week to write three times this week. Slowly but surely, we’re habit-building. I’m informally going to shoot for the same goal again this week, if you’d like to join in. This was just a quick post on something that’s helped me to jump back into the flow of things.