Writing Fuel

As I do my best to write write more regularly, I’m trying to identify those things that spark my muse and get my imagination working, and those things that actively hinder those things. I know, I know, you can’t always rely on your muse to write, or else you’re just waiting on the fickle little bitch to get off the couch and get to work. That’s a one way ticket to ‘no finished book land’.

So, here’s a few of the things that work to get the creative juices flowing in me, and those things that I must absolutely avoid.

First, those things that work:

1. Music Videos. I know, its a little weird. Lewis Black, who is one of my favorite comedians, once said that music is supposed to spark your imagination, and adding video pretty much ruins that. Long story short, he has a pretty low opinion of MTV. Fair enough, I’m not their biggest fan either, MTV doesn”t actually have much to do with music anymore, so I don’t think we even need to discuss them.

I’m not sure what it is, but certain music video’s, not all to be sure, just spark my writing brain and get me thinking. The combination of music and video engages both eye and ear, clears away other distractions and gets me to think clearly, as well as triggers story ideas, if the video is of the right variety. Here’s one of my recent go-to video’s “Dance in The Graveyard” by Del Rey.

2. Anime music videos (AMV). Now, stick with me here. Love it, or hate it, a lot of anime have some really striking visuals. Bright colors, flashy fight scenes, images and things you’re just not going to see in normal music videos. When I want to get amped to write a fight scene, or an action scene, I just can’t do any better than taking to my AMV playlist on youtube. In case a little explanation is needed, there are people on the internet who have WAY too much time on their hands, and have taken to editing various series into music videos. Some are fantastic, some are terrible, but if you’re in the mood for something different, you can do much worse than giving them a chance. Watch this and tell me it isn’t awesome:

3. Epic Trailer Music. If you aren’t aware, “trailer music” has become a whole genre of music unto itself. And no, it is not the genre of music produced in the trailer park. That’s country. No, trailer music is what you hear during a movie trailer while they show you the most awesome scenes from the movie with that kick-ass music in the background. Each song doesn’t tend to be too long, about the length of, say, a movie trailer. What you have in the Epic Music category is an album full of three to five minute songs that have that grand, epic feel, like you’d expect during a big battle, or the opening of something like the Hobbit or Lord of the Rings. If you want to try some out, look up Two Steps From Hell, Audiomachine, or Future World Music. They’re just the tip of the Epic iceberg, but they’re a great place to start. Here’s a little sample from Two Steps From Hell, off their latest album, Skyworld:

4. Why not combine the three previous things?

5. Writing advice books or articles. Once again, I don’t know what it is, but this just puts me in the right frame of mind for writing. I like kicking off a writing session by reading one of Chuck Wendig’s “25 things” that you can find on his blog, terribleminds.com, or in one of his many fantastic books on writing. You will also learn entirely new ways to use cuss words. Hilarious ways.

6. Warm up writing. Sometime you’re just not ready to jump right into that work in progress, no matter what you do. You just sit there, staring at the page, no idea how to even start it out. What do I do? I don’t. I flip over to another document, and just start in on something different. I write a blog post. Flesh out a character profile, figure out some bit of the world that also needed fleshing out. The key is to start writing something. Anything. Get your fingers typing, and when you’re finished with that other little thing, maybe the words will start flowing easier on the active work in progress.

Things that cause my muse to go directly into hibernation and shut down my writing brain like some one initiated the self-destruct sequence, a.k.a. DO NOT DO THESE THINGS BEFORE WRITING!

1. Video games. Do not play them. No, don’t click on the Steam icon to see who’s online. Put down that 3DS! No, bad Seth! No, you can’t just play 1 hour of Civilization and then write. (Really, no one ever plays just one hour of Civilization. It is the time eater.) Uninstall those casual games from your phone… 5 minutes will turn to 30 and nothing creative will be going on upstairs. Just put the games down, asshole. You can play games when you get your writing done.

2. Television. Don’t watch it. We live in a world with Netflix and DVR. Write first, watch TV later. When I stair at the TV for an hour, there’s nothing in my brain that’s thinking “Hey, how am I going to fix this plot hole.” It’s all, “how is Green Arrow going to get out of this?!”, “Wow, Nathan Fillion is funny.”, “How many more episodes can I get in before bed?”. Write first, watch later.

3. Audiobooks. Same thing as TV. I’d just say books, but as noted above, actually reading writing advice books just puts me in the right frame of mind. Not so with audiobooks. Listening to a book, just puts me into the book and nothing matters but to keep listening. If I want to write when I get home from work, I can not listen to an audiobook on my way home. Reading any story but my own before writing is strictly verboten. Once again, write first, read later. Or… y’know, listen later. Or at work. I listen to all the audiobooks at work.

4. Social Media. Stay off Twitter. Stay off Facebook. Stay away from Goodreads, Pinterest, Ello, Google+, MySpace (who the hell uses that anymore) and every other goddamn social media whatsit. You will give your writing brain an aneurism if you get on Twitter before writing or after. I know, the draw is strong. People are saying and posting things that you aren’t reading. Unless its a writing blog and you’re using that to get your muse motivated to pull her weight, you probably don’t need to know about that super easy way to make mac’n’cheese. You know what, just stay off the whole internet. There’s nothing worth seeing there anyway. Not until you’re done writing. … Now I want some mac’n’cheese. Mmmmm….

Well, this seems like a completely sufficient word deluge to leave lying around on the internet. Moreover, its served its purpose and I do believe I’m ready to finish out my chapter, maybe start a new one. What do you guys do to engage your writing brain and kick your muse into motion?