Kickstarting the Creative Process

Before I begin, let me just say, this post has nothing to do with Crowdfunding/Crowdsourcing projects. Instead, it is all about getting stalled creativity going again.

Let me set the stage a little here.

I published my campfire story, Scouts of the Apocalypse: Zombie Plague back in July. When I published it, I had ideas for book two and three. To be honest, I still do and I have tried to sit down and plot out the basic storyline for each.

That’s where my creative process broke down. Why? Well, I find the process of simply putting plot ideas down in some order to be dead boring and not a terribly productive one. I seem to have better luck when I am working my way through a story on the fly. That method is sometimes engaged while I’m out for a walk and other times when I am forced to think on my feet.

Book one was definitely a think on my feet activity. I only had the very slimmest kernel of an idea when I told the story. I essentially told the story with what seemed to be the most natural chain of events. When I expanded the story I fit in more details and added extra scenes that I thought would make the story more robust and interesting.

So I’ve been trying to get going on book two knowing full well how I want to start and end it. It was all the interesting bits in the middle that were giving me trouble. To make matters worse, whenever I tried to write a sequence of events down as plot elements, I invariably started to fall asleep.

Obviously, not terribly productive.

Fast forward to last weekend. First Scout Camp of the year and I had been asked to tell another story. I decided to throw caution to the wind and tell the story of book two to my Scouts. Keep in mind I knew the beginning and the end but nothing else.

And so, for an hour on our first full night, I told the story of how the Scouts saved the world from the zombie threat. Was it a classic? Hardly. Will the version I told be what the second book will be? Not exactly, but it will certainly form the bones.

What I got out of winging it in that way was the skeleton of the story. Little things like dialogue were missing but the general story was there. When I was done my Scouts spent the next hour (at least) talking about it, zombies and the apocalypse. Clearly they were interested in the direction it went, which was a bonus for me.

Since that night I have had several bits of inspiration on how to improve the story flow. So, for the investment of about an hour of winging it, I now have the bones of the story, several side notes on additional scenes, characters and actions and a very real enthusiasm to write the book.

Perhaps not exactly the way everyone would plan a story, but it certainly seems to work for this particular series.

Next steps?

Write down the story as I told it to my Scouts. Then break that down into chapters and add in the additional bits I’ve already come up with. Then I expand on that. It sounds like a bit of an evolutionary process and it really is. But it will ensure I get the story I want to tell down on paper and ready for publishing next year.

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