As a writer it’s normal to feel stuck, especially when it comes to plot. What does our protagonist do next? How do we a character get from point A to point B? How can we avoid a solution that feels forced?
I know early on I often found myself becoming frustrated with these sticking points and I would settle or force a solution just so it would be done. What I now realize is I was being impatient and not trusting the process.
And my writing suffered.
Now I realize that the right plot solution is worth waiting for, even if it takes a while longer to find. But how can we speed up the process? Certainly not with one more hour looking at the computer screen, or one more cup of coffee.
By now we all realize that these solutions can’t be forced, rather our best solutions often come when we’re not fixated on the problem.
That’s because our subconscious mind solved the problem, and our subconscious mind is far more powerful when it comes to solving problems than our conscious mind.
Ok, so what’s the trick?
Before we get there I want to point out that it will seem so simple, maybe even a little too hokey, that many of you may be tempted to dismiss it. I urge you to reconsider.
Here it is...
Write down the question or problem you are trying to solve in a notebook right before bed. Pose the problem as a specific question. For instance, How do I make the character Marty Goode seem more empathetic to the reader?
Now close the notebook and forget about it. Set a reminder to check back two weeks later. During this period your subconscious mind will be working hard to solve the problem. And then once it’s time you check back in with the notebook you’ll find is that at least 50% of the time your solution will have already arrived and you may not have even tied the exercise and the solution together.
Sound absurd? I agree, and that's why many writers will never try it, but I promise it works.
And how did learn this trick? I read about it in the book The Net and the Butterfly by Olivia Fox Cabane and Judah Pollack, a book that should be on the shelf of every creative person because of its collection of unorthodox "creativity on demand" exercises.
ps. This trick also works for any other area of your life. Looking for a solution with finances, relationships, or your career? Ask for a solution and see what you get!
pps. If you want to pick up a copy of The Net and the Butterfly, here you go...