Creativity. It’s the stuff that drives novels and this is what I’m here to talk about; novels. So this topic was bound to come up sometime.
As Jack London said, “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” Unfortunately, more than half of the time, it’s true. Creativity is incredibly elusive.
But, I’m going to talk to you about some things that help me stay creative, especially in the beginning stages of a novel, which in many cases can be the hardest part.
The first obstacle in creating your novel: World Building! Your characters need a world to live in, things to do, and people to see. Otherwise, your story isn’t going to be all that great. If you write in genres like fantasy or science fiction, world building is a huge, sometimes daunting, but always crucial task. But even if your story is set in present day America, (the most familiar world for most of your readers), you’re still going to need to do minimal world building. What part of America, who are the characters, is it sunny, cold, winter, summer, etc.
One tool I’ve come across in world building is the ever-present and wonderful, Pinterest.com. I’m sure you’ve probably heard of it and if you haven’t, it’s this great site where you make an account, create boards and pin pictures. Sounds kind of boring at first, but believe me, it’s addicting. Anyway, what I’ve done is created a board for whatever story I happen to be working on and begin pinning anything and everything that looks like it might fit into my story. Places, people, things. There are tons of talented photographers who do fantasy work, science fiction-y photography – basically anything you can imagine. Pinterest has been more than helpful when I’m stuck on my story and need inspiration for world building. To see an example of what I’m talking about, here is a link to one of my Pinterest boards dedicated to a book I’m currently writing: http://pinterest.com/paulinecharris/fictitious/
My Pinterest board!
Another way to boost creativity, help with world building and create a mood for your story, is to make music playlists for you books. Things like spotify, playlist.com etc. are good sites to do this with. I’m sure you’ve heard a song before and thought, this totally goes along with the characters in my book! And if you haven’t, then go find some! Music helps create a mood for your story, so if it’s dramatic, find dramatic music, if it’s sad, find sad music. Make playlists for your books and also playlists for certain types of scenes. Action scenes with epic movie soundtrack music, or heartbreaking scenes with something like the Titanic theme song – I’m sure you get the picture. And don’t limit yourself to your normal type of music. Try something new! Listen to everything from dubstep to opera, listen to violin concertos, rap, pop, jazz – anything and everything. You’ll be surprised at what new genres you’ll like (I’ve suddenly become obsessed with opera).
Another thing I use to boost my creativity is to find other ways to express it. Chances are, if you’re a writer, you’re probably good at some other form of creativity as well. If you don’t believe me, then try abstract art – it’s pretty hard to be bad at that, and it’s super fun. 😉 Creative writing falls in the right brain category (the creative side), so anything imaginative that you do will boost that kind of thinking and therefore contribute to the success of your world building, story building and writing.
Do digital art (make a bunch of pretend book covers, OR if you really are doing your own book cover, work on it!)
Make a music video or book trailer (I filmed a book trailer with my brother where I played my main character and he was my villain – it’s beyond lame, but it was SO fun to do and helped me get more inspiration for the sequels)
Play an instrument
Do melting crayon art (so fun! Tape a bunch of crayons to the top of a sturdy canvas or foam board and blow dry! The crayons melt down across the paper and look awesome!)
(granted, mine sort of looks like the sky exploded instead of rain, but whatever)
Write a blog post! (which is basically what I’m doing when I should be writing chapter 9 of my new book)
All of these things feel like a break from writing, are fun, and help with your creativity.
Also, go on walks, take hikes, go running. Studies have shown (although being the unscholarly person that I am, I’m not sure which studies 😉 ) that your mind works best when your body is moving. From personal experience, I’ve gotten great story ideas from hiking and walking, especially to new places.
And last but not least, have fun! Writing should always be fun – sometimes agonizing – but always fun. Getting excited about your work is one of the best creativity boosters. There’s nothing better than coming up with a story and knowing deep down that it’s a good one. So grab that excitement, hold on, and run with it. Because ultimately, it’s the passion for your story that drives you to the finish line.
Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day!