5 Steps to Tap “Greatest” Moments to Improve Your Creative Writing

“The wise learn from the experience of others, and the creative know how to make a crumb of experience go a long way.” —Eric Hoffer

Image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

You realize you need strong emotional events for your character’s journey.

Try using greatest, closest, and funniest moments to pump up your story. Here’s how it works:

Step 1 Ask a question at your next social gathering, such as:

  • What situation was the moment you came closest to death?
  • What has been your greatest fear?
  • What was your greatest embarrassment?
  • What was the greatest injustice you suffered?
  • What was your funniest situation?
Image courtesy of PANPOTE at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of PANPOTE at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Example: What situation was the moment you came closest to death?

First, the facts:

Response 1: When she was twenty, she hiked a cliff path with her parents. The drop from the path to the boulder-filled creek below was over a hundred feet. She stumbled on a jutting rock and shot out her foot to steady herself on a smooth stone slanting toward the drop. It was wet and slippery. She slid toward the drop. Her mother caught her arm and pulled her back onto the path.

Image courtesy of SweetCrisis at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of SweetCrisis at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Response 2: On a dark night, a wasp in her car forced her to stop on the side of a deserted road and exit her car. A car pulled up alongside hers, and the lone man asked if her car had broken down. She said it hadn’t. He drove on a ways and then slowly made a U-turn. She jumped in her car, wasp or no wasp, and sped by him.

Image courtesy of artur84 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of artur84 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Step 2 Ask the teller to expand on her emotions during the situation.

In telling mode:

Response 1: Desperately trying to get traction, she squealed. Her mother screamed. Afterwards she couldn’t stop shaking. She found it difficult to deal with the realization that her mother, without thinking, risked her own life to save hers.

Response 2: She was terrified the wasp would sting her. The man’s ogling eyes creeped her out. When he drove on, she was relieved. At his U-turn, her heart stopped. Forgetting the wasp, she panicked to escape him.

Step 3 Collect the stories and organize them by subject. I’d file these under Death Defying.

Step 4 Select a situation from your cache when you need a situation for a character.

Step 5 Massage the situation to fit your story. Let’s select Response 1.

Hikers_on_green_fieldsBriefly, in telling mode:

On a team-building weekend, Anne and her colleagues traverse a narrow path along a cliff. Anne precedes Cindy, the ambitious, disliked co-worker. Anne wishes she could pass three people and hike next to Mark, the hunk she and Cindy have their eyes on.

Anne is mentally grumbling about her bad luck, when she trips on a jutting rock. Her left foot zips out to steady herself. She can’t gain traction on the slippery stone slanted toward the boulder-filled creek below. Panicking, she yelps as she slides toward the hundred-foot drop. Cindy grabs her arm and pulls her back onto the path.

Later, still trembling, Anne refuses Mark’s invitation to eat beans together. She’s compelled to understand the woman who risked her life to save hers. She joins Cindy on a log.

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    Now you have a situation with real actions. You can add details and show the emotions.

    What situation have you used to enrich a story?

4 Ways to Free Yourself from Procrastination in Your Creative Endeavors

“Procrastination is opportunity’s natural assassin.” –Victor Kiam

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We don’t plan to procrastinate. We want to fulfill our obligations and move forward. But too often we don’t.

Let’s face it. Procrastination is a weird kind of selfishness, because it robs others and us of benefits and joy.

Fear is often the root of procrastination. What are we so afraid of?

  • Fear the work isn’t the right thing to do
  • Fear the work will be overwhelming
  • Fear we don’t know how to do the work right
  • Fear we’ll abandon the work

If these fears muck up our minds, we need to do something about what we allow in our thoughts. 

4 Ways to Free Yourself from Procrastination

mp900398793.jpg1. Prevention. Take a half hour and list:

  • what you like to do,
  • what you’re good at,
  • what you believe in,
  • what challenges you in a good way, and
  • what you’re called to do.

For help, see 4 Choices That Improve Your Perseverance. Let’s call this list your Character Manifesto. Be honest.

Remember, work ends up on our plates because we say yes to someone’s request or our eyes light up at some work that looks interesting, noble, or lucrative. So, stop before committing to anything and ask yourself: Does my Character Manifesto support this job? If it doesn’t, it’s likely not the right thing to do. So, say no thank you, or think and pray about it before committing.

You’re less likely to procrastinate on work associated with items on your Character Manifesto.

id-10055355.jpg2. Planning. Once you’ve committed to a wise number of right projects, you can prevent them from looming. Even if you dislike planning, you can jot down what projects are due in the next few months. And under each project, what tasks need to be accomplished. Then decide what tasks you need to get done next week.

I can’t stress this enough: assign a sufficient block of time for each task. You already know your most likely interruptions, so wisely plan that block of time around them. Then forget about all tasks except the one assigned for the current block of time.

You know all tasks have been assigned a block of your time, so you can relax and actually look forward to and enjoy your next task.

mp900442329.jpg3. Permission. Now that you’ve assigned sufficient time on your schedule for the right jobs, you need to address niggling thoughts you may fail at doing them right.

Train your thinking. Give yourself permission to ask for help when needed. That’s so smart. To view the task as an adventure. That’s so fun. To realize failure can be a great learning experience for the next attempt. That’s so freeing.

Who better to do the task than you: it fits your Character Manifesto, you’ll get needed help, and you’ll look forward to hindsight if your adventure turns out different than planned.

mp900401598.jpg4. Accountability. You’ve scheduled the right jobs and have given yourself permission to enjoy the work and accept the outcomes. Yet, you fear disappointing people if you get bogged down in other things and fail to finish projects.

Turn your fear into constructive action. Create or join an accountability group that has no investments in your projects.

Your accountability partners have little concern about the success of your projects. They expect you to complete what you determined were the right things to do. Your weekly reports to your group should show them you planned well and worked as planned.

Members can help you look at your pressures and problems more objectively and make suggestions to get you back on track. Plus, they’ll cheer you on.

Having accountability partners helps you to plan well and do what you planned to do.

What works for you to give procrastination the boot?