Where did that thought come from? Have you ever noticed that just before you fall asleep, your mind leaps from ordered thought into a realm that makes no earthly sense? From there it is but a step to your dream life.
Natalie Goldberg in her wonderful resource for writers, Writing Down the Bones, calls this part of us our “monkey mind.” She claims, and I agree with her, that our best, most original writing comes when we are in touch with thoughts in the realm of my butterflies doing somersaults. These are also “morning thoughts.” Therefore, doing writing exercises first thing in the morning, spilling out your monkey mind into your exercise notebook will often lead to a completely fresh take on the book you are writing. Your characters will grow in complexity and freshness.
When I am writing and become stalled, I know this: I need to go deeper into character. That is always the answer that yields a breakthrough. It often changes the direction of my book completely, but that is good if you write character-driven fiction.
In order to go deeper into character, I must access the subconscious thoughts of those who people my books. Getting into their monkey minds—the intuitive leaps that they make—is exciting and refreshing. It is the serendipity in the writing process. I love to be surprised by my characters.
For this reason, some of my best writing occurs at midnight after I have shed the days’ concerns and schedules. My mind is most creative when I am just on the edge of sleep—either first thing in the morning or last thing at night.
Be sure to check out my latest book, The Duke’s Undoing, on my home page!