More Inspiration, Less Meditation

Sometimes you’re writing and you know just what to do, almost like you’re recording what happens rather than inventing it.

Sometimes you sit at your computer and think and think and think, and nothing comes. You don’t even feel like you’re getting closer to a solution. You’re just sitting there. Existing in front of your writing.

Most of the time you land between these two extremes. You write in fits and starts. Rushes of inspiration. Lulls of meditation.

But is there a way to increase the amount of time you spend inspired, and decrease the amount of time you spend waiting for inspiration?

Blank Word Document

One crazy technique that helps me is writing multiple parts of a story at once.

Say, for example, Judy walks into a room, and I’m trying to figure out what she should say to Richard. For whatever reason, it’s stumping me. Rather than staring at my computer and getting frustrated until I settle on a solution, I jump to the next known point: Richard storms out. Great, now I’m still making progress, still inspired.

But then Richard gets back to his apartment. He . . . wait, what does he do?

I don’t know.

Let’s check back in on Judy and Richard, and see if Judy’s figured out what to say. And suddenly, Pow! Judy says, “I’m not impressed by your leopard-print tights.”

Now it’s back to Richard, in his apartment, trying to figure out what to do.  Hmm.  Hmmm. Still nothing? Move on!

It’s increasing your story’s surface area to expose more troublesome areas to your unconscious simultaneously.

While you’re making progress on one moment in your story, your unconscious is hammering away at others.  The more surfaces, the better the chances you’ll find one you can break through.

Fist on Black

Jason Mrachina via Compfight

Of course, this technique has a limit. How much can your unconscious process at once? Do you lose track of what’s going on in each moment? It’s probably different for everyone, but you’ll figure out pretty quickly if you’ve overextended yourself.

About Dante Rasera

Originally from Upstate New York, I currently live in Charlottesville, Virginia, where I'm an MBA student at the Darden School of Business. This summer, I'm interning at Red Hat, the open source technology leader. Prior to business school, I studied creative writing at Hamilton College and received the Thomas E. Meehan Prize in Creative Writing.
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