Writing a new story has its challenges, it can bring about a great deal of joy when the words seem to flow freely, and it can also bring about a great deal of uncertainty when you’re just not sure where the plot is headed. I had never been much of a fan of outlining a story prior to writing, because I felt as though it hindered my creativity – until I realized I was doing it all wrong. I found that even though I was making progress on my story, I wasn’t as satisfied with the work I was producing, and I knew then I needed to get to the source of the problem. Story development occurs in various stages, and they differ across the board depending on what you’d like to include, but I’ve settled on a few concrete principles that always seem to bring me to the finish line of a project I’m truly happy with (even if it still needs a bit of work).
So, you have your laptop open, maybe coffeeshop dwelling with a latte at your side, ready to dive right back into that project of yours – until you find yourself unable to get started. Your initial idea seemed so right at the time, it excited you so much when you had began, but it looks like you’ve lost your way a bit. Trust me, we’ve all been there. Here’s how I develop my story, here’s what I do when I can’t seem to push through the writer’s block and I need a bit of a push.
5 WAYS to BOOST STORY SATISFACTION
Let’s begin with the easy one, when we’ve settled in to get writing it’s important to remember what we liked about the project in the first place, what intrigued us to get started when the story was nothing more than a blank page.
THE BIGGER PICTURE
Outlining has never been something I enjoyed when I began my writing journey, but it’s something I simply cannot live without these days. I need a sound outline to get me through a project, I need to know where I think things are going to end up even before I begin. This is because I want to give myself the opportunity to really think about the outcome of the story, so that I line up a few possibilities to guide me through as I work on making it to the final chapter. These days, I outline just about everything. This blog post you’re reading, you guessed it, it was outlined. It seems like such a simple addition to your writing session, but trust me when I say I didn’t really know how much it could benefit me until I started making the outlining process work for me. For such a long time I’ve been keeping up to date with the way everyone else seemed to outline, wondering why it wasn’t working for me. So, I took a little while to try out a few different techniques, settling on having an open-ended outline that was chockfull of ideas, possibilities, so that I can still allow myself to learn along the way, giving myself room to change the story if I please.
GET TO KNOW YOUR CHARACTERS
We sometimes forget just how involved we get with our characters while we’re writing, some even becoming a part of us as we navigate our personal writing journeys. I noticed that I wasn’t writing as frequently, or I wasn’t writing as efficiently because I didn’t take the time to get to know my characters. I had kept them at arms length for far too long, not allowing myself to dive deep into their personalities to really catapult my story forward. That is something I’ve surely changed over time, and now I not only outline each and every important character, I make a little sheet of things they’d like, how they’d react to certain things, and specific character attributes that really do help me to develop my story further.
PLEASE, READ YOUR STORY
How many of us actually read through our stories when we’re working on them? It took me far too long to actually sit down and read all of the work I had been producing for weeks at a time. Now, I’m not merely saying remind yourself of where you’ve left off, or taking it back to certain points you need to continue (but these do help as well), I’m saying to take some time to actually read the entire story from the beginning. This will not only allow us to get excited again about what it is we’re putting down on paper, but it may spark some new ideas that wouldn’t have surfaced otherwise. The inspiration might be hiding in plain sight, in the words you’ve already written.
PLOT TWISTS ARE YOUR FRIEND
Plot twists are certainly a lot of fun to explore, but I have made it my mission to make sure they make “sense” in the context of the story. Have you ever read a story that had such an insane plot twist it didn’t seem to make sense and in turn made you feel like it was thrown in there last minute? It’s quite possible that it was. I don’t look to plot twists to save the story when I don’t know where to take it next, I plan them ahead of time if I can. There will always be occurrences where we settle on a plot twist that simply fits, something that seems to make the entire story make sense, and those are absolutely amazing. However, these don’t always seem to surface, and I find myself mid-story wondering if turning the entire story on its head is a good idea (it probably isn’t). The plot twist has to be interwoven into the overall story, it has to fit with the plot, and make sense in the end, but if it does – it’s certainly your friend.
FINDING THE RIGHT WRITING TIME
This is something I’ve struggled with for years, and I feel as though I’ve only just figured it out. We’re simply not going to write at the same time every day, because life can get in the way sometimes, and that is okay. What’s important is learning to make efficient use of the time that writing works best for you, that you feel the most alert and ready to get back to work. For me, this is mid-morning, right before I dive into all of my work for the day. I settle down to start my day with creative time, and it really does leave me feeling productive for the rest of the day. We all find our ideas may come at different times, but I try to save them all up throughout the day so I can put them into practice when I’m fully awake, productive, and ready to continue. Try out writing a bit at different times of the day and really pay attention to when you feel like the most work is getting done – that’s your perfect writing time;.
Getting ourselves out of writer’s block, working efficiently, and truly being happy with the work we’re doing can be tough – but it is doable. At the end of the day, effort is what is the most important. Writing, being creative in general, can only truly happen if it’s something you work towards. I hope that this post helped you to get working on a new piece, or continue one that you’re currently working on.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post!