Wednesday, March 23, 2016

I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends

By Laney Flanagan

I know, titling a blog post with Beatles lyrics might be a little cheesy and overused, but I promise it'll make sense. All of us, as writers, know that our work and the craft of writing is a solitary one. You spend hours in front of your computer or hunched over a beat-up notebook writing until you feel at least an inkling of accomplishment. Or, you know, you're simply following the all time rule of writing- write for at least 15 minutes everyday if you want to improve your craft (if this is you, I commend you). All in all, writing is generally done alone. Sure you may talk to others about your novel or short story or memoir but the act of putting words to paper can be lonely. For me, I make sure I don't write solitary- I use two devices to get the ideas flowing. My friends and acting.

This might sound weird, but I am weird so doing weird things is my M.O. But, using other people to help brainstorm and create ideas has gotten me farther in my writing then I could have ever done by myself. I sort-of enlist my friends into my fiction world and ask them to create characters that belong in this world. By doing this I have 5-10 different minds working and that means more diverse characters and ten times more ideas. Everyone thinks differently, especially my creative, odd, exuberant friends. Some of the best characters I have written about began with a spark from another brain. A spark that I ignited and kept going.

The next step in my creative process might sound even just a tab bit more weird then making your friends do the grunt work for you. We literally act out those characters. We interact with each other (in character), follow the plot line I have set out, and I (as the writer) watch to see what unfolds. By getting into the mindset of a character you can start to really see who they are and how they act. It sounds really strange I know, but trust me, I has helped me immensely. When I am stuck at a certain part in my novel, I tell my friends the direction I need to go and they act out different scenarios until I find one that fits or one that I love. Its a process of observation and some of the results that have come of this process are phenomenal. It has even worked so well for me that some of my other friends have enacted this tactic as well for their own writing. And for them, like me, the results seen have been out of this world (literally).

So, I challenge you to think outside of the box when it comes to getting new ideas for your writing. Communicate with others, see what kinds of things their brain might spurt. Ask them to improv out a scene with your characters and see what amazing things happen!

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