1. Life list. For years, coaches and other life management professionals have encouraged people to write their life lists—50 or 100 things they want to do before they die. Well what about your characters? Don’t they need to create a life list, too? Create a life list for one or more of your characters. Then think about how they’d make use of it. Would they tuck it away in a journal or drawer—or would they share it with their friends and family?
2. Protest document. Maybe it’s because I grew up Lutheran, but I’ve always been intrigued by Martin Luther’s The 95 Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences, his protest document against the church. Luther’s act of posting the 95 Theses on the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, Germany ignited the Protestant Reformation. No doubt one of your characters has something or someone to protest? Have them write their own protest document, post it somewhere, and see what the act incites.
3. Policies and Procedures. Many of my colleagues earn their incomes writing technical documents, like policy and procedure manuals. I’ve often wondered if there are individuals who write policy and procedure manuals for their homes or families. (It sure would save a lot of time if I could answer the questions my children ask with, “Check the manual!”) If you’re not sure what to write next and are itching for some fun, have one of your characters create a policy and procedure manual for ideas or events that are amorphous—like falling in love or raising children or coping with loss.
4. Lab Report. I envy scientists, with their experiments and data and formats for reporting the information. It all seems so concrete. Sometimes I fantasize about creating a hypothesis and running an experiment about why my daughter leaves her socks all over the house or what keeps my son from putting his dirty clothes in the hamper—but I don’t have that kind of discipline. But, it might be a fun project to give one of my characters. How about you? Does one of your characters have a hypothesis they need to test out? Can they create an experiment and then write up their lab report? For a lab report template, check online: http://www.biologycorner.com/worksheets/labreport.html
5. Tall Tale. I love tall tales because you can throw in elements that are wildly improbable and exaggerate just about everything, and it all seems to fit. When I am struggling to write a scene, sometimes writing it in a different genre—like a tall tale—can help me discover the essential elements of the scene. Then, I can go back to the beginning and write the scene in the genre I am working in. If you’re struggling to add words, it cannot hurt to try telling a tall tale. It might even be a fun experiment.
Your turn: What writing formats have helped you break through blocks and write more?
About the author: Rochelle Melander is an author, speaker, and certified professional coach. She is the author of ten books, including the National Novel Writing Month guide—Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (and Live to Tell About It) Rochelle teaches professionals how to write good books fast, use writing to transform their lives, navigate the publishing world, and get published! For more tips and a complementary download of the first two chapters of Write-A-Thon, visit her online at www.writenowcoach.com