Change Your Routine, Change Your Writing Style

Two things happened this week that inflamed a writerly itch in me (OK—that doesn’t sound so good, but it’s a good thing—I swear!).

First: Sunday, I attended a meet & greet, where I met (and greeted) a bunch of writers in the Harrisonburg area.  As an icebreaking exercise, we were supposed to write up to 500 words in response to a prompt (the bird).  I ended up writing a short short story that leaned toward—gasp!—suspense.  What??  Completely different from anything I’ve written, well, ever—but it was kind of liberating.

Not that I don’t love YA or plan on changing my genre and writing suspense novels or anything, but it was neat to see what I could come up with in a short amount of time (I did it in about an hour)—and when I’m not the one picking the topic. I got some decent feedback on the piece, too.  Score!

Second: Yesterday, I was forced to break out of my hibernation—there were groceries to be bought, movies to return, shoes to pick up, and a new computer charger to find & purchase.  <—Yeah, that one was pretty important.

So, I’ve been listening to the same few songs lately, and I was looking forward to listening to them again, during all my errand-running.  But when I pulled out my iPod right after I took off, it was dead. Grr.

That was particularly annoying because the ‘burg doesn’t have great radio reception and I don’t yet know the stations very well, but it turned out to be a good thing too.

I flipped around radio stations and heard a lot of songs from my college—and even high school—days.  And, I don’t know about you, but songs almost always take me back to exact places and times, feelings, etc.  Some of the songs I heard (“Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton, anyone?) yanked memories out of the depths of my brain like a magician pulling a bunch of handkerchiefs through my ear.  (You’re welcome for the visual, bee tee dub).

But these two change-ups in my routine sparked something.  I know it’s not groundbreaking advice, but it’s been a long time since I’ve entertained the idea of a new manuscript (almost a year!), and I’m proof that altering your yoozh can be fodder to your shiny, new ideas because I got a lot of those yesterday.

Anyway, I highly recommend stepping out of that comfort zone.  I know it’s the dead of winter, and it’s nice to wrap up in your robe and settle in to what is comfortable, but if you go out into the cold a bit, you might get some interesting kernels of ideas you never would have gotten!*

*Or frostbite.

Speaking of songs I’ve been listening to over and over (and over) . . .

Stuck in the winter doldrums? Love this song—think the video’s a little creepy**:

**Especially the part where the mom is giving birth and, like, spontaneously combusting.  Nope—not helping me not be afraid of childbirth, Katy Perry!

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