NaNoWriMo came out with this brilliant concept, #StayHomeWriMo. And as someone who was super enthused to start working on a new concept, this pulled me out of the COVID-19 Quarantine funk.
Now, I haven’t really written in a year. I’ve been stuck in projects that kept falling apart, corrupting, or disappearing. So, having the flexibility to create a longer project with word count goals that meet my needs? I’m in. And since #StayHomeWriMo is also about self care, taking care of yourself and your writer, I wanted to share what is keeping me sane with you:
I don’t know about you, but I do NOT like being locked up all the time. If I don’t get out of the house once a day, I get antsy. Two days, I’m literally pacing the house. Three days, I’m climbing the walls, along with my cats.
So, I recommend to you, the brainstorming walk. I have a couple of rules I follow for this.
- Walk fast. Now, before COVID-19, this wasn’t a requirement for me. And obviously, depending on your neighborhood, your health, and various other factors, “fast” might be a relative term. But now, if I’m walking quickly, or walking uphill, or in some other way challenging my body, the ideas come easier. The fear and the background thoughts and the irritation and everything that drove me out of the house falls away as soon as I’m out of breath. And the whole point of getting out of the house is getting out of my head. Confusing, right? Actually, no.
- Get out of your head ruts. Now, I don’t know about you, but I would wake up an hour before work, and google the latest about the virus and the city and how it’s affecting everything. And then I’d go on Twitter, thinking magically, there would be great things on there.Shockingly, this did not help my anxiety, irritation, or general restlessness. By getting out of the house and committing that I’m NOT thinking about the virus, I’m NOT thinking about work, I’m going to think about my writing, my current project, this character, this plot point? It’s freeing. I look forward to my morning walks. So much that I think I’m going to add an afternoon walk tomorrow. Today, I’m writing this blog post instead.
- No phone calls, no social media, no podcasts, no looking at my phone, or passive listening. I am outside, and I am taking in my surroundings. It’s easy to escape into a conversation or a podcast, but that turns this into a simple exercise, and not a writing escape.e
- Listening is related to the project. So, I create playlists for my books, my characters, and everything. So if I’m listening to something, I’m listening to the lyrics for inspiration. I’m feeling how the beat matches up with my surroundings. I’m feeling for the tone and theme of my story in the music, and in the world around me.
- No idea is off limits. These are brainstorming walks. The idea isn’t to nail down a concept, it’s to let your brain relax, and roll around in the story. Right now, I’m figuring out the first Big Bad of my book, and there’s a lot of unknowns and what-if’s. My walk today was sorting through those what-if’s, and seeing where they lead.Is my character descended from Salem, Massachusetts, and is cursed for persecuting the witches? Too cliche. Ok, but what if?
Did my character belong to a coven of voodoo practicing witches in New Orleans? Over the top and culturally insensitive. Ok, but what if?
- Absolutely no sharing. Ok, so this one is a personal choice, but I suggest everyone try it once. Coming up with ideas is fun, putting them down on paper is significantly less. Sometimes, if I share a story idea, the desire to write it down fades. I’ve passed it on verbally, I’m done. Same with outlining a project to death. Once I get it down in some form, the drive to keep going vanishes.So while I might be super excited about some of my ideas or breakthroughs, sharing them is out of the question. I can share them with the blank page when I’m ready.