As regular readers will know, I am currently in the “bulk” phase of “Plank 3” – just get the words down, and don’t worry about elegance until the summer edits. To this end, I have set myself the target of writing 2,000 words per week (2,107 just completed for this week – I thank you). Occasionally it is hard to get going – but with that rolling target, I can’t afford to indulge a lack of inspiration. (I’m not talking about writer’s block, which is an altogether more ghastly affliction and Much To Be Dreaded. I mean just a lack of enthusiasm.) And so I have invented a cure, which I call the Inspiration Game, and I share it in case it helps you as it does me.
If you’ve been staring at the page/screen for about ten minutes without writing anything, you might be ripe for a quick round of the Inspiration Game. The rules are as follows:
- Leave your page/screen
- Go elsewhere – I tend to wander into town, but a turn around the garden or even unloading the dishwasher is fine
- You can be “elsewhere” for a maximum of 45 minutes – anything more, and you’re now just skiving off
- While you are elsewhere, you must notice at least one thing that you will use to inspire your writing when you return shortly to your page/screen.
Today, for instance, I played a short 20-minute round, and made a quick circuit of town on my bike. I was intending to go for longer, but the heavens opened unexpectedly and I was soaked. There it was: I pedalled home, and in the next scene Sam Plank was caught in a sudden downpour. Not thrilling, I grant you, and it might not survive the summer edits – but it got me writing. During earlier rounds of the Inspiration Game, I have seen a man with a really outstandingly enormous nose, heard a woman singing to herself, and noticed a little alleyway that I had never seen before (despite living in Cambridge for decades). Will they make it into the final “Plank 3”? Who knows, but they certainly made it more likely that there will actually be a “Plank 3”. Game on!