When The Words Will Not Come

June 25, 2007 at 10:00 am | Posted in creativity, Jessica, writer's block, writing | 2 Comments

If you have been with us during this first month of the Purple Hearts, you will know that we each took a turn on a specific topic each week.  We left the last week of the month as an open topic week, and, while it sounded good at the time, I find it both freeing and paralyzing in its execution.  What to write?  What to do when the words will not come?

Not that that ever happens when I sit down to hack away at my work-in-progress.  Much.

When one creative outlet just will not work, some time spent on another one may serve as just the activity to break through the dam.  A friend and fellow writer, Heather Laskowski, is also a gifted artist.  She took her love of layout and design, paired it with her talent for paper art, and developed a Storyboarding Workshop that she has conducted at a number of writers’ organizations and conferences. (Storyboard Workshop Handout)

Essentially, she uses scrapbooking techniques to create four storyboards per WIP that illustrate her plot, setting, theme, and the general physical characteristics, the goals, motivations, and conflicts of her characters.  By using images from magazines, the Internet, arts and craft stores, cards, etc., she manages to capture the entire tone of her books.  I have participated in this workshop as well as worked one-on-one with her and each time I have come away with a greater understanding for my project at hand.  A plot twist I had not conceived before.  A relationship complication that will up the sexual tension.  A new character that will ratchet up the conflict.  This process forces participants to think through all the tough aspects of putting a story together, and my work has been the better for taking the time to fully picture the story.

And I have heard similar feedback from every person she has led through the process.

So if you are a visual person and find yourself suffering from writer’s block, a four page storyboard spread may be just the thing to help get your WIP back on track.  A word of warning based on personal experience: the lure of the craft store is a strong one and can easily result in lots of time and money spent acquiring accessories for storyboards.  When you find yourself hopelesly immersed in celebrity photos and paper stock and stickers and photo mounting squares, STEP AWAY from the craft supplies and get back to the writing. 

I want to thank Heather for her willingness to share this information with us. You can find more information about her and her new artistic venture, Merry Moon Designs, at her web site: www.merrymoondesigns.com




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  1. I am new at this blogging thing and also a “hopeful” writer [which sounds SO much better than “struggling”]…. so while browsing the tag surfer thing I found you and want to thank you for the storyboarding doc…. better stop “procrastinating” now and focus [SOS! kids just spilled drink on keyboard!]

  2. […] first tool is one I’ve mentioned before – Heather Laskowski’s story boarding tips. This exercise will help me better visualize my plot […]

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