Monday, June 6, 2011


As writers we all have to face the fact that at some point and time we may find ourselves sitting at a blank computer screen ready to go, but unfortunately nothing happens. Our fingers aren’t flying across the keyboard like they should be…at that moment panic strikes, or at least it does for me. The self-doubt and that evil “little me” sitting on my shoulder with the pitchfork laughs telling me to give it up. Of course that’s impossible because we are writers, and writers find it impossible to quit writing.

I too find every now and again that my creativity is like a message in a bottle and I’m unable to take the top off; when that happens, we have pull out our bag of tricks and tools to free that message.

So for those of you that are following this blog, here are some of my tips and I hope you’ll share yours with me also.


Lock yourself in a place where you can’t be disturbed and listen to your favorite tunes! Everybody likes a certain type of music that can help evoke feelings. I usually find myself dancing around the room…thank heavens the door is locked! After a couple songs, turn your attention to a blank piece of paper or your keyboard. Now write for 10 minutes NON-STOP. Don’t remove your pen from the paper or stop your fingers from typing. Don’t worry about it making sense or making mistakes. Write anything and don’t stop…it could be about the color of your walls. When you’re done go back and read what you’ve just put down, chances are you will be able to pick out one sentence that has merit. By doing this exercise you’ve also given your mind the chance to be free from our normal constraints.


For me that would involve water. I love water and mountains! Whatever that might be for you, let Mother Nature help set your senses free. Bask in the sun or go for a walk in the rain.


Smell: This one works for everybody. Head to a flower store and make a point of stopping to savor the aroma. The key is to jot down your thoughts immediately after. Your spice rack can do the same thing. Cinnamon reminds me of snow. So head to your kitchen and start smelling…and writing!

Sight: Visit a mall, large department store or a food court. You’ll find everything you need here. Basically this is people watching, but do it without staring! Write a piece about people you see. What do you think their personality might be? What’s their favorite color? Imagine what their hobbies would be? What profession would they have? Remember no staring! Once again this is just another exercise to open your mind to unorganized creative thinking.

Taste: To do this one you need to be willing to experiment a little. Try a new food, chew slowly and appreciate the taste. It works best if you can have somebody else cook the food for you. Is it sweet, sour, bitter, or tart? Imagine where the food or recipe originated.

Hearing: Pick a few sounds, for example a wind chime, a car horn or a bird chirping. What thoughts come to mind? The key is to write your thoughts quickly to see where they take you.

Touch: This exercise works well if you can visit a fabric store. Feel the different types of material and write your thoughts down. For example, what does flannel feel like compared to burlap, then go one step further and ask yourself who would wear it? What do they look like?


This is my favorite exercise that I just learned in a workshop I attended. I hope I’ve saved the best for last. And because I’m a fantasy/paranormal writer, I’m going to use those types of characters. Here’s your task, but you must do it order of my instructions:

1. Write down five single words that describe a vampire’s mannerisms. For example, blood sucker, viscous, cruel, or cunning (whatever a vampire mean’s to you).

2. Now do the same thing for what you think a pixie’s character might be. For example, petite, carefree, or whimsical (whatever a pixie mean’s to you).

Here’s the fun part! Let’s make some creative characters. How about we swap them, so whatever traits you write down for a vampire, would now belong to a pixie and vice-versa. You’d then end up with a blood sucking, cruel, cunning pixie, and a vampire that was petite, whimsical and carefree.

This exercise is a lot of fun and can be done with many types of characters. You could describe, lawyers, nurses, police officers etc. then spice them up by switching their characteristics and creating your own very unique characters.

WELL, that was a lot! I hope it helps UNLEASH YOUR CREATIVITY!

If all else fails, then my standby is to eat an Aero chocolate bar, drink a glass of milk, fall asleep, and let my dreams create everything for me.

Happy writing everyone.


Rosemary Gemmell said...

Great advice, Lawna - I've used riversides and art galleries to inspire my creativity!

Unknown said...

I LOVE that exercise you dd! Great job. I've taken classes on this very subject but have never heard that. I'm using it. Thank you so much. This is great.

Wendy said...

Hi Lawna,
This is great advice. It makes sense to use our senses to awaken creativity. I like the way you have set this out. I hadn't thought of doing this. Thank you.

One method I use is to type freely for 10 minutes without stopping, like you suggested, but with the monitor turned off. That way I'm not tempted to stop and read or correct. You are right, there is always something in there even a phrase that is 'writing'.

Nan D Arnold said...

Thanks Lawna for some unique tips and I'll try typing w/monitor off. Never heard that one.

Anonymous said...

I love the idea of typing descriptive words for a character and then switching it up with another character (especially paranormal or fantasy characters). FUN!
I like Wendy's idea about typing with the monitor off - Yikes...I can't imagine not editing.
Thanks Lawna - I'm looking forward to trying some of your suggestions.

jabberingjo said...

Great ideas! I like the idea of personality switching between characters. Also the uses of the senses. MY long-time author friend suggested last week that I use the senses more. coincidence? I think 'the power that be' may be trying to tell me something.thank you j. rose Knight (Joan)

Mike Hays said...

Lawna, thanks for the reminder of using all five senses. Paying attention to these and being able to draw them from the memory banks works wonders for writing.

Barbara Ehrentreu said...

I've used Wendy's idea and freewriting is a great way to unleash your creativity, but going to a fabric store and touching materials is something I've never tried. I practically know the feel of each fabric having grown up in a fabric store, so all I'd have to do is go back to my childhood to feel them.:) The spices thing is interesting too. All great ideas Lawna and will try them if I need them.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Excellent advice. Thanks!

Jenna Storm said...

Fantastic workshop! Loved it. I think the five senses in scenes is a critical element for a story to grab readers. I pause every once and awhile (when I remember) and try to note my reactions using the five senses.

I have never done the character swap though and that's a great tool for creating some unique characters and just getting the creative juices flowing.

One thing I do if my creativity is stymied is drive around. Getting in the car, for me it's no music, and I just think about the story I'm writing. I talk out loud as I drive and let my mind go.

Lisa Forget said...

Wonderful workshop Lawna!

Love all your ideas for getting the creative juices flowing. I've used some of them, especially pumping up the volume with some of my favourite music.

Another thing I love to do is to let a photograph inspire me.

Looking forward to trying the creative characters excercise.

Thank you for your post!

Charlie said...

What a fun workshop, Lawna. Great ways to peak and inspire our Muse. I do love the music one. I will put in my ear-bud and crank up a great song and then once I'm done dancing for a few songs, my fingers are ready to dance.

I also loved the swapping characters. How fun was that. I chose a teddy bear and a shark. Hmm...Move over Chucky, I have the newest sci-fi that will have kids kicking their teddy bears to the curb. ha! What fun.

Thanks for sharing!
C.K. Volnek

Lawna Mackie said...

Thanks to everyone so far! I love trying to be creative! And if I've done everything correctly I really do have the most amazing dreams. In my book ENCHANTMENT I dreamt about a HIPPO-DOG-BURROWING-OWL! I had my artist friend draw him. Using senses help with all of it!

I also like the idea of visiting art galleries! You can't get much more creative than that.

And everyone should try the free writing without typing. I can't help but type and correct everything. I don't do that when I'm scrawling on a page.

Rosalie Skinner said...

Great ideas Lawna, worth keeping handy for those dreadful moments when the Muse is silent.
Love the idea of swapping character traits.
Thanks for sharing your ideas.

Arlene said...

Sweet, not only great advice to get the creative juices flowing, you also share an usual and intriging idea to swap character traits and be a bit different, best of all you wrap with what to do when it just isn't happening. Aero chocolate, yummy.

Lawna Mackie said...

Thanks Rosalie and Arlene. And it's true Aero chocolate bars really do help me dream! Thank you for participating ladies.

J.Q. Rose said...

I actually chuckled when I read your character swapping personalities. I'm going to try that one. Thanks for this workshop.