We’ve been talking about cold starts this week. Mine process is a little unusual. It relates to the shamanic drumming journey I took to discover my spirit animal, which is a Great Blue Heron. Associations for the Heron are balance, exploration, renewal, and wisdom, among others. They are solitary creatures, which jives with the writing life, their stillness when they hunt lends itself to meditation and contemplation. So that leads into my cold start process. When I’m having trouble getting starting, I meditate and become the Heron. Most of the time, I’ll fly over the fictional town my story is set in and imagine what my characters are doing, how they are moving around the town, interacting with others, solving problems.
And that is a load of crap – complete fiction. I don’t do that.
If I had a reliable cold start process, I wouldn’t be in a writing slump. I have a couple different things I try, though. Newspapers are good fodder for me because I like realistic stories. There are some fantastical news stories out there that really happened. For example, recently I wrote a scene for book 4 in my series (although I’m concentrating on book 1 right now, but the idea came from the story) when I read an article about a young teen who was being trafficked for sexual purposes. They kept her with them by driving nails into her feet so that she couldn’t walk, much less run away. There is another story about a trial for a runner (interesting to me because he ran in a neighboring county and I know who he is) who got involved with a 12-year-old girl (runner was 18 at the time) who claimed to be pregnant. He killed her. He was an engineering major at Virginia Tech, not your usual murder suspect. But great fodder if you’re writing about the bad guys.
Another method is to concentrate on a character or a problem when I am getting my walk/hike in for the day (I often see Heron’s when I do – the picture is how close the one at a local hiking area lets me get). I’ll think on that character and some aspect of the plot that’s troubling me and let the ideas jumble around in my head. Sometimes I’ll come up with an idea and then I’ll go home, jot some notes so it’s fresh and then I can start on it when I sit down again to write.
Maybe I’ll try the meditation thing and become the Heron some time. It could work.