For a return engagement, Corrine O’Flynn offers further thoughts on the creative process.
The Creativity Series: Guest Post
Journaling to Unleash Creativity
Ask a creative person what they do to keep track of their ideas and you’ll find many different answers. Some will file them away mentally until they can revisit them later, others will use a voice recorder, and still others will email themselves, call their own voice mail, or make lists. I do all of these things. But my tried and true solution to problems that crop up in my stories is usually found within my journal.
Creativity can become stifled if we’re unable to move beyond a certain sticking point. In my case, as a writer, I will find myself staring into the dark abyss of a plot hole and wonder how in the world I am supposed to get my characters from point A to point B while maintaining whatever was happening at the moment on the page. My head will be stuck on some minute detail, and then everything stalls, leaving me unable to find a solution.
Awareness of my tendency to do this does nothing to keep it from happening, mind you. Our minds play tricks on us in broad daylight!
Enter my journal. In a case like this I will pull out my journal, grab a pen, and start writing out the issue long hand. I’ll write out a question at the top of the page like, “What is the problem with Character D at this point?” And then I’ll start writing out an answer as if I was explaining to someone who was not familiar with my story. Eventually, I will get lost in the telling of the issue and start brainstorming the possible solutions I’ve come up with.
Maybe they could go here and discover this fact before such-and-such happens, or maybe they don’t find this detail out until they arrive at the next town. Or, maybe they don’t stop here at all and instead…
Thinking through a problem like this is like taking part in a one-man brainstorming session. When you start being open to putting the issue down without worrying about the writing, and instead with a goal of problem solving in mind, you free yourself from that sticking hold on your brain.
Journaling to unleash your creativity in this way can bring about many different solutions, sometimes making you change everything once a gem of an idea emerges. It forces you to separate your ego from the stunning and fabulous idea that has you stuck in the first place and allows you to come up with alternative (and equally fabulous) solutions to your problem.