Monday, May 9, 2011

No Motivation? Change Your Scenery

They say an animal must adapt or starve. Does that mean a writer must work in the same spot every day? Nope.

If you're like me and you work in one room in the house like an office or a bedroom—maybe, for this exercise, it's time to try a new writing spot. In my experience with this tip, the best thing to do is just to sit down someplace—be it a coffee shop, somewhere outside, or just your kitchen table—and let the ideas come. One day, while waiting in a parking lot. I had an argument between my main character and his wife planned, another—while at a park—I had the details of a novel planned out.

What a change of scenery does is let you take a look outside your work environment and think like a writer: “What can I use here? What details stand out?” For example, in your 'old' work environment—let’s say, the kitchen table—you may have had a character sit down and think about how his life has fallen apart. In your 'new' environment—let’s say a bedroom—you might look around and see a tube of lipstick on a drawer and have the character, instead of sitting and just thinking, find a similar item in the bedroom and show the reader, through that item and environment, how the character feels.

In this way, I've found, old environments become new. Sometimes, I feel like a detective searching for clues, piecing together evidence of a story, a single moment in time, a character or an entire cast.

Thinking outside your work environment also forces you to step back a bit and look at the writing with fresh eyes. In your normal work environment, for example, you may have had your character's overbearing wife argue with him because he's late getting home from work. Instead, once you've had a chance to play with some scenarios, you might have her pull a gun on him—effectively throwing the plot into a whole other, richer direction. What once was a slow, cliché scene becomes faster, more active.

Besides paying attention to the world around you, working in another place also forces you to pay attention to the characters--to ask yourself “Why are they doing this? What are their motives and goals and what is stopping them?”
 So at the same time, you, as the author, must play defence attorney and judge, best friend and enemy, bystander and participant.

Whether you write inside or outside, working someplace new certainly helps motivation, helps break down writer's block, lets us stretch our wings a little, see things outside the box.

Try it out. You never know what you'll come up with!


  1. you are so right here Maddie. I am a firm believer in if something is not working...if the words aren't flowing...then move. A change of scenery can often inspire new scenes, dialogue etc...just like you said. Wonderful post!

  2. I am enjoying all these new blog topics that are coming from this blog. This one especially hit home for me. I am constantly getting bored when I'm writing. Not so much with what I'm writing but where. So this sounds like me. If I hit a block, I get up and move. It really does help.

  3. Changing scenery doesn't usually help when I get stuck but I have to admit that I choose my writing location because of the inspiratin it can bring.



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