Friday, February 12, 2021

Just visit your novel.

Think of your novel as a friend who lives in a house.

Actually, think of any creative project that you're working on, as your friend who lives in a house.

You love your friend who lives in the house, but you get busy with other things.  You go back to your own home and make dinner and you watch that new Netflicks series and then you get a phone call from your sister-in-law and by the time you get to sleep it's past midnight and you toss and turn, hardly getting any sleep.  Plus, there's that thing called a Pandemic.

And so, you wake up at the crack of dawn, confused and unfocused.

You do not want to visit your friend who lives in the house.

In fact, you feel kind of awkward and shy as if you've never been properly introduced.  You feel as if she's a complete stranger and you're wondering what you ever really had in common.  It's all so weird and awkward.  And, did I say awkward twice?  I think I did.

Wouldn't it be better to just read The New York Times or listen to the podcast about overcoming procrastination or maybe see if you can find a recipe for the new slow cooker and all those beans who've stored in the Pandemic Pantry?


In fact, this is exactly the time when you must go the house and visit your friend, the novel.

Your novel doesn't care if your hair needs to be washed.  Your novel doesn't care if you're still wearing your pj's and you're wearing that ancient pair of Uggs.  In fact, your novel prefers you that way.  Your novel loves it when you're in that preconscious state where everything feels like a dream and where anything can happen.  In fact, the dog could start speaking French.  Your pancakes could smile at you.  The clock could play tricks on you and the tea cups could start spinning.

And this is the perfect time to go over the house and visit your friend.

I say visit for a reason.  I'm not talking about sharing a meal or staying for lunch or moving it.  Just visit--this takes away all the pressure.  I am not suggesting you write five hundred words, or a paragraph or even a sentence.  I am suggesting that you visit her.  Perhaps you read a page.  You day dream.  You keep the file open and play some music in the background.  

The truth is, you will probably want to revise that awkward sentence that's staring right at you.  You will most likely want to add a detail to the description of the sky.  Maybe, you should add rain.  Yeah.  It's kind of rainy day scene.  Ooooh, and thunder.  That would be good.  Maybe lightening.  Oh my goodness, maybe your protagonist gets hit by lightening.  Eeeeeks!  Okay, almost hit.  And this starts a chain reaction, because this near-death experience propels your protagonist into some life altering decisions.  

Or no, no.  They do get hit by lightening and this doesn't kill them, but instead gives them ESP.  Yeah.  That would be good.  Only, it should be limited ESP, like they can only see into the future on every other Tuesday...

And then you're in.

You see how this works.  It's about just visiting your novel.  Tell yourself, you're not going inside the house of your novel.  You're going to just knock on the door and stand on the porch and say hello.  You are not going to bring her muffins.  Okay, maybe muffins.  Blueberry.  That you baked yourself.   That would be nice.

And that's your creativity prompt for the week.  This doesn't just work for writing a novel, but for any creative practice.  Just visit.

Oh, and have fun!




  1. I love this. I always tell people: Aim low. Write badly. 100 words is fine. You can fix it all later. Naturally, I'm telling myself this, but it works. :)

  2. I love this idea! Yes, 100 words--and you can always fix it later. Thank you for your comment, GC!


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