Writing? Use your Nose


There’s this mistaken idea that writing is all about getting the words down in whatever manner works best for you.

“Of course. That’s kind of what making a book is all about, isn’t it?”

Sure. But what about those days where you can’t seem to drag yourself to your computer? Those moment when your pen is too heavy to lift. You mind is a blank. Your creative coffers are empty.

Call it writer’s block (stuck on an idea) if you want to, call it story overwhelm (stuck on too many ideas), but the fact is there are days where it seems like too much effort to get those next words out.

And that’s okay! It could be a sign that you need a break, but if getting out and taking a walk doesn’t work, try using your nose.

Or your ears. Your taste buds. Your eyes.

I started to touch on this a little bit in a guest post I wrote for author Renée Gendron when I went into how to choose your NaNoWriMo project, but it struck me as a good topic to elaborate on.

If you’re having trouble figuring out where to head in your story, maybe it’s time to take a break and head back to the beginning.

Rediscover what it was that sparked your imagination to begin with.

For me, my inspiration will often start with a visual. A particular scene or just a set of characters getting into trouble. Those scenes almost always have something striking about them that caught my attention amid the flood of other ideas that might pass through my head on a daily basis. Why did that one stop? Was in the colour of the woman’s dress? The red silk that flowed over pale skin and spread out over white, undisturbed snow? Was it the way she stood off against the man with cold blue eyes and a sneer that promised pain—or was it expressing pain that she had caused? Maybe it was the wolf at his side, its sharp howl cutting through the sharp wind whistling through the branches of the trees. Maybe the iciness of the snow as it falls from the branches to cover the woman’s shoulders.

Or maybe it’s an external trigger. A song on a Spotify playlist that initially sparked that scene.

A meal you sat down to that offered some unique and delicious fare and brought you to a different table with a different collection of guests.

A candle burning that offers a light scent of vanilla or cinnamon, like an offering burning on an altar.

If you can pinpoint your inspiration, rediscover the trail that led you to your original idea, then you can build on it. Find new ways to bring it to life. From there, you should have an easier time moving forward.

So, did it work? Let me know what senses sparked your inspiration in the comments below.

VEILFIRE: a release day

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