I feel like I hit a breakthrough last night. I made some modifications to the story idea I’ve been mulling over and it seems to be getting closer to something I can work with but it still isn’t quite there. Time to run it past my brainstorming buddies again.
Today I went to my writer’s meeting and for the time in three months, I actually wasn’t the only one there. We had a pretty good turn out and it was nice to see my friends that I’ve missed for months. We spent a little time catching up and then a few of the members shared some of their work.
We aren’t a critique group, per se. None of us are experts and we’re sort of like the blind leading the blind but we all do our best and I think we do get a lot of help from each other. I’ve seen quite a bit of improvement from our members over the years and I’ve felt it in my own writing.
So people were reading and we gave them suggestions and it hit me that people are right when they say giving critiques actually helps you become a better writer. I didn’t realize how true it was until I was listening to the others read and suggestions I’ve read about in countless writing books and blogs started jumping out at me like road signs. “More Action Here”. “Stop Telling”. “Slow Down on the Description.” It’s funny how easy it is to look past these blunders in my writing but they stand out so clearly in others’. Hearing what it sounded like from outside point-of-view made me understand how right all those books and blogs are and I think it will be easier to recognize these road signs when I start writing again. What a great tool critiquing is when you can improve by giving and receiving.
Since my ink pen has been bone dry for so long now, I shared with the group my lack of inspiration instead. They forgave me with all the excuses I’ve given myself over the past month but what I really wanted wasn’t forgiveness, it was something to inspire me. Luckily, I got that. One of my writing pals (who, in fact, is an inspirational and intuitive mentor) suggested I start writing “what if” scenarios. Like, “what if an incredibly smart and talented writer is going to write the pen Great American Novel but she can’t seem to find her creative center?” Ha. I take the “what if” question and write about it…see where it leads.
For me, I would probably go with something a little more focused, like working on that idea I haven’t been able to get a clear picture of yet. I don’t want to start writing until I come up with something that really excites me (if I don’t start out excited, how am I going to make it through 100,000+ words?), so what if I “what if” the heck out of it? Take an idea or a piece of an idea each day, write it out and see which one gets my creative juices flowing.
P.S. I bought a new notebook. Inspiration must come.