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Friday, August 17, 2007

Got Ideas?

...or are you all out? Fresh out. Plumb out. Dried up. Uninspired. Kaput. Okay you get the point. When I taught a Learning Annex class a few weeks ago, I had my students do a really fun exercise. Everybody grabbed a section of newspaper and had ten minutes, with a partner, to browse their section and come up with a logline which included: a main character with a flaw, an antagonist, a central conflict and a genre. The results were actually spectacular. Of the ten partnered pairs, I'd say six had loglines that were absolutely worth developing further. And that was in ten minutes flat.

Sometimes it feels like nose-to-the-grindstone is quite literal when you're a writer. On and on you go working on the same project, becoming frustrated and even bored. Or sometimes too many ideas and projects beckon and you lose focus.

Part of the Writer's Survival Kit is to spread your writing energy out a little bit so that if you aren't working on the first act of your fantastic new horror script, you are taking a dialogue class online and when you aren't doing that, you're outlining your idea for a novel and when you aren't doing that you are always, always being observant and studying people and the weird things they do.

Yes, focus is important but try to avoid that lethal, silent, creativity killer - feeling bogged down and blocked. It creeps up on you and you don't realize it until it's too late. Keep that imagination fresh, playful and joyful as much as you can. Being a writer can feel like a curse sometimes - but it is also an enormous gift. So take your gift out to play each and every day.

Try the newspaper exercise just for fun, just to see if you can do it. Or the next time you're out at a Starbucks, look around at the others waiting in line. Can you come up with a logline based on what's going on right then? Keep those creative muscles moving. Ideas and inspiration are everywhere.

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