When writing gets stuck I try to do some sideways thinking. I don’t want to think about what I am writing about directly because that can lead to a stall out or worse, frustration leading towards abandoning the writing. Sideways thinking is the process of doing something reasonably easy and definitely not mind consuming or numbing; I need to be doing something, perferably creative, and while do that something my mind wanders. Typically, during sideways thinking I will hit upon a solution or a new way of seeing the issue.
Yesterday, stuck happened. Stuck usually involves naming something or creating something outside of my wheelhouse, such as architecture. Names are always a pain. Names, in my opinion, alert readers to the potential disposition of a character. Read a name and form an opinion. I try to carefully name important characters or places. Yesterday, an important character and a bad guy at that. Bad guy names tend to flow out easily and always sound like “bad guy” and that was what I was trying to avoid.
When I realized the name was not going to pop into my head I moved onto something else, describing where the yet to be named bad guy worked. Because the location is important I wanted to give more detail than I normally would. The problem, for me, is that there are a lot of words such as manufacturing plant or warehouse that instantly cause an image to pop into a reader’s head. I want the reader to see what I see and more importantly what the characters see, thus detail. Except I have a 3-D issue, in that I have a poor sense of scale and location in space. I need to draw out detailed maps and sketches. I had not done that yet. Now I am stuck twice.
Time for some sideways thinking and why not try to kill two birds with one stone, sideways think and try to build the location, this is where Minecraft comes in. I have written a bunch about Minecraft; in a nutshell I cannot stand creative mode especially the way my kids use it, but I enjoy survival for a couple of reasons, number one being sideways thinking.
Minecraft does not use a lot of mental energy to play. Get the blocks I want and build something. However, because I have to mine the blocks I have to do some thinking: where can I find the blocks, what tools do I need, and so on. Once I have the blocks I build. Normally nothing more than a series of squares connected by hallways or doorways. When sideways thinking, I do not put forth a lot of energy into being creative with my buildings. The past two days though, have been a different story.
A square turned into a square with some flair on the corners and then an attempt to make a circle out of square blocks and then some more flair and while sideways thinking did not lead to a name on the first day, I did end up with a new idea for the important location and a way to start describing it. Late last night, the name for the bad guy hit me.