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K. L. Stewart's Dark Angels blog gives details into the characters, worlds, and inspirations related to all of the books in my Angels and Shadows series.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Harvesting Imagination

I'm getting prepared for writing (the second draft) in the second book in the series of Angels and Shadows.  My creative writing process is very intricate.  There is a checklist for getting the most out of my imagination.  Maybe these are way off from what you do, or perhaps there are some tips that will really help you.  Either way, here's a peek into my process (and an explanation for my weird behavior).

1- I must have everything in my work area clean and organized.  Having everything where I need it is essential to getting my work done.  I feel so much more focused if I'm in a clutter free and organized space.

2-I must be alone and undisturbed.  Once I'm in my writing mode, I don't want to be disturbed until I am finished.  Other people can interrupt this process, and any disruption can make me forget the thoughts I'm writing down, and once they are gone I don't always get them back.  This is one of the most difficult things for me.  Family and friends don't always understand, but we as writers must demand this time.  After all, we are working, and just like on a regular paying job, we don't need to be interrupted by people unless it is an emergency.  Once the idea is down, I can easily bring it back when I'm around others, but for that initial summoning of my muse, alone time is a necessity!

3-Music helps me summon emotions and feelings that I might need to create.  For instance, if everything is happy and cheerful in my life, I might have a hard time writing a scene where a character is feeling angry or sad.  The right music paired with the right scene really helps me get into what I'm doing.  It also helps my imagination "see" what I'm writing.  For instance, on a hot day (I live in North Carolina), it may be hard to imagine the swirling snows of Sark.  For snowy scenes, I like to listen to classical music.  This really helps my imagination turn that summer heat into a wintery night.

4-I know it sounds silly to some, but smells can help me.  I have a scentsy warmer, and the "Winter Wonderland" scent, to me, smells like Sark.  Once I have the classical music (usually Carl Orff's Carmina Burana), and my Winter Wonderland scent, I can close my eyes, and I'm transported to a snowy land with wind whipping through the branches of the kial thieren trees.

5-Again, I'm strange.  Clothing matters.  If I'm having a hard time focusing on a character, I will put on clothing that feels right for something that character would wear.  For instance, if I'm trying to invoke Celeste, I might put on a red dress.  It's silly to some, but for me it works.  I can feel then what that character feels.  For a writer, I don't think it's that strange.  After all, I've heard that Anne Rice has a coffin that she slept in when she was writing her vampire novels.  As a writer, I get it!

6-Drawing is sometimes how I think on paper when words won't come.  Sometimes I end up drawing people who actually turn out to be the characters.  Once I see that character with my own eyes, it helps bring them to life in my imagination, and writing about them becomes easier.  Sometimes, I just draw abstract symbols, but while my hands are busy, my mind is working, and doodling helps the ideas flow.  Then when the ideas are formed, the doodles turn into words, which eventually make their way into books.

7-Re-reading what I've already written can help me focus my thoughts on the characters and lands that I'm trying to create.  If I'm writing about the pselbdes, I might re-read all of the pselbdes parts that I've written, and this would help me envision current scenes that I'm writing.  It moves the idea along.

Hopefully, this will be helpful to you.  Do you have any ideas for invoking your muse?  I'd love to hear them, and I'd love to hear if any of these help you!


  1. You have some great ideas! I think it's wonderful that you use all your senses, including smell and touch, to engage your imagination. I'm not nearly as organized as you are, I have to work on that! when I write, I have a clutter of paper all around me to the point where if I put something aside for a bit, it takes me days to find it again when I need it. Like you, I absolutely do not like to be disturbed by humans or pets. When I am in the zone, I don't hear much, so music would be lost on me.

  2. I'm glad you found my ideas helpful. By the way, I go in to my writing organized, but the process gets disorganized. I end up with things scattered all around me. Sometimes those things are chalk pastels, drawings, pens and notebooks. You're not alone! I just have to clean it up and organize before I can start again. Good luck with your writing!

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