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5 Writing Exercises That Will Make You More Creative

#2. Cheat on Your Story

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Fuck your novel, anyway.

That thing's been giving you nothing but trouble: Ignore the bastard for an hour or two and go play with something else. Pull your favorite toy out of whatever you're working on -- a character you like, an interesting setting -- and take it to a friend's house. Write something totally unrelated using those familiar parts. It doesn't matter what the subject matter is: something boring, something random, something stupid. The important part is that it has nothing at all to do with your central plot. If you pull a setting, it doesn't have to be a vital set piece. If you pull a character, it doesn't have to be the protagonist -- you've spent too much time together anyway. That's not a healthy relationship; you guys need your own lives. Pick a supporting character and write a few paragraphs about something irrelevant that happened to him 10 years before the plot takes place. How would he respond? Pick a setting five years after your plot ends and put somebody else in there. What would it look to him? Hopefully this exercise will help you get to know your own stuff a little better -- or at the very least, it will help you cement these things as existing places/persons/cybernetic lust-beasts independent from the story you want to tell.

An Example:

... will mean nothing to you here, because it would be a tangential spin-off of a supporting character from a project that you don't know even know that I'm working on. That's like four different ways for you to not give a shit, so let's just fill this space with a man trying to kill the ground with an explosive sledgehammer. Do try to not look disappointed.

#1. Steal Somebody Else's Story

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Are you sick of dealing with your project? Probably. But what can you do? You don't feel up to starting a new one, and you don't want to get too distracted with something else.

Don't worry, there's an easy fix: Just steal somebody else's work!

Remember: They can only prosecute if you try to use it. Everything else is satire, parody, fan fiction, or a few crumpled pages in a garbage can. If you have writer friends, nab one of their pieces and finish it yourself however you see fit. If you don't have writer friends, fuck it. Take something from pop culture. Grab a plot synopsis for Moby Dick and have Ishmael constantly making crude jokes about sperm whales. Write RoboCop from the point of view of a surly teenager. Write the finale of Lost in a way that makes sense -- you can do the impossible! Don't worry about undertaking some massive project you owe fealty to, because you can stop wherever you like. Bang out a few hundred words of the "Sermon on the Mount" as delivered by Quentin Tarantino. Get two paragraphs into your version of Die Hard where John McClane is a giant bee and ditch it whenever you feel like it. It's a literary rental car: You go ahead and jam that Camry into a 40-mile-an-hour handbrake turn. You bought the insurance -- ain't your problem. It's like staying at a friend's house: You're leaving in a few hours, so why not pee in the closet? They probably won't find it for a day or two, and even then they'll probably just yell at the cat. This story is not yours, it doesn't matter if you break it, and you owe it nothing. That freedom is exhilarating, and once you're done playing around, some of it will carry over to your own work.

An Example:

"Whatever," RoboCop said, "I didn't want to come here anyway."

"That's a great attitude," Officer Lewis snapped. "You're sure to enjoy yourself with thinking like that."

"I wanted to stay home and watch TV!" RoboCop kicked an errant pinecone. It spun into the gutter. He spat at it.

"Well, you can't, OK? You are going to spend some time outside if it kills you, and I'll tell you what else: if you don't shoot that perp's knees out right now you'll lose cruiser privileges for a month."

"What?!" RoboCop snapped his facemask off so Officer Lewis could fully appreciate his indignant fury. "How am I going to see Suzy without a car?"

"I guess you won't," Officer Lewis answered coolly. "Unless ..."

RoboCop heaved a defeated sigh and, rolling his eyes, put fifty 9mm rounds into Boddicker's gut.

"There," RoboCop said. "You happy?"

"I am," Officer Lewis laughed. "Aren't you?"

"Whatever," RoboCop answered.

Read more from Brockway at his own monument to narcissism/website, The Brock Way. Follow him on Goodreads, Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.

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