Monday, February 14, 2011

Rekindling the Spark

Post by Jenny

Love is in the air today, which brings to my mind this quote from Norman Mailer: “(Writing) a novel is more like falling in love (than non-fiction). You don't say, 'I'm going to fall in love next Tuesday, I'm going to begin my novel.' The novel has to come to you. It has to feel just like love.” By the same token, novelist Pico Iyer wrote that “Writing should ... be as spontaneous and urgent as a letter to a lover.”

New beginnings, be they with a person or a manuscript, are exciting, full of energy and promise. But as anyone who is fortunate enough to be in a long-term relationship knows, the initial passion changes over time. It mellows and it deepens. It gets comfortable and perhaps even complacent on occasion.

When the thrill of completing the first draft becomes a distant memory, a relationship with a Work in Progress can go the same route. So how does one rekindle a WIP’s spark? (Especially if one occasionally fantasizes about feeding a hard copy of one’s WIP through the shredder, driving north about sixty miles, and scattering the shreds to the ever-present Wyoming winds?)

How about applying the standard chick-magazine love tips? For example:

Turn up the heat: Give your characters something to get excited about. Romance works, but so does a good argument, or pulse-racing peril. Even if the scene doesn’t quite have a place in your WIP, write it anyway, just to see what happens.

Set the mood: Put on some music that fits the tone of your WIP. Adjust the lighting accordingly. Decide what kind of flowers your main character likes and get some for your desk. Cook up some foods your characters would love…or hate.

Steal away together: Tell your significant other that you’re going to the grocery/auto parts/shoe/pet store. Instead, take your WIP to a quiet place. Sit in a secluded corner. Give your WIP an hour of your undivided attention. Go ahead, whisper a few sweet nothings. No one will hear.

Focus on the positive: Yes, red is the color of romance, but forget the red pen. Instead, get a hot pink highlighter and mark all the passages in your WIP that make you say, “Dang, I am a good writer.”

Eat chocolate: Various researchers have credited chocolate with improving mood, relaxing blood vessels, boosting circulation, and lowering cholesterol. I say it also fuels creativity and prevents outbreaks of adverbs.

What do you love about your WIP today?


Andrea Mack said...

I love that I got a new idea for my outline today!

You have some good tips here. What works for me is #3, taking some time to just think about my project and maybe doodle a few notes about it in a quiet space of time. Usually, it gets me itching to write again.

Heidi said...

Consider a threesome - Sharing a with good critique partner can inject some energy and produce a lot of new ideas.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I love that my short story WIP brings tears to my eyes.

Excellent post, Jenny.

Jenny said...

Good work on the outline, Andrea. Must be from all that productive doodling :-)

Nice tip, Heidi.

Thanks, Pat. I'm intrigued that you're writing a short story!

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