Resistance sets in because it was your imagination and heart that called you to write in the first place. If you can’t access your unconscious, you can’t connect deeply with the characters, story or readers.
Too little structure or structure applied too late in the writing process leads to rambling, inflated drafts that lose the reader amid dead ends and tangents that never go anywhere.
Resistance sets in when you get lost in your own creation and can’t figure out how to bring a story to a satisfying conclusion.
Fortunately there is a Goldilocks solution – just the right amount of structure at just the right time. The dreamstorming method Robert Olen Butler describes in From Where You Dream is an easier, more effective and less frustrating way to write a novel or memoir.
Instead of choosing imagination at the expense of structure or structure at the expense of imagination, you take time to imagine and discover your story fully (what Butler calls ‘dreamstorming’) before you structure it. Equally important, you reconnect with your imagination via dreamstorming as you draft what you outlined.
To discover your story with dreamstorming, you go into a writer’s trance and allow possible scenes to unfold in your imagination in no particular order. You show up and see what comes to your imagination on that day.
You capture the essence of each scene in a sentence fragment on an index card. You refrain from drafting so you don’t prematurely lock in your imagination and miss other story and character possibilities.
After you’ve imagined all the scenes you can envision (somewhere around a hundred), you use the cards to discover the structure of the book. When you draft, you know where you’re going. (More about how and why dreamstorming works)
I completed a novella using dreamstorming. I’m using it to revise my novel after letting it sit on a shelf for years because I didn’t use Butler’s method to draft it. (You can read about how dreamstorming influences my revision in the posts in the New Book Update category.) My coaching clients and students have used it to draft and complete novels and memoirs.
I know the method works, which is why I teach it in my Entering the Flow classes at the Loft. Students practice moving into the imaginative flow and learn how to intentionally and consistently enter the writer’s trance/flow state.
The in-person Flow class at the Open Book starts March 24. If you don’t live in the Twin Cities Metro, a hybrid version of the Flow class starts with an in-person class in Fergus Falls on April 18, followed by five weeks of online classes.
Have you used dreamstorming or something similar in your writing?