Writer’s block getting you down? Running out of ideas to kick start your motivation? Need something to get rid of that blank white screen in front of you?
I’m frequently faced with this problem, and I know I’m not alone. Like most other writers I have tried a number of different techniques, from stream of consciousness writing to getting some thoughts onto the paper the night before so that the day never starts with a blank sheet.
But I recently came across a little tool that’s actually been around for years, but oddly seems to have passed me by.
I think it’s a great utility which helps in many ways – but the first I tried is simply to banish writer’s block and get the pen (or keyboard) moving first thing in the morning.
Very simply, it’s a random face generator. You can find it here: http://www.morphases.com/editor/
By clicking the ‘Random’ button it will generate a completely made up, but thoroughly realistic face. It could be male, female, young, old, strikingly good looking, or desperate. Every time you try it, you’ll be greeted by a new face.
Although the tool allows you to edit these faces, don’t. For this exercise, simply head to the face generator and hit ‘Random’.
One of the things that we are all very good at is making snap judgements about people, usually within the first few seconds of seeing them. It’s a habit we all have, whether you’re a writer or not – it’s just that writers tend to take the habit a little further than most, using these people and their associated judgements in stories.
So, the moment you are presented with a random face, start making some judgements. How old are they? What sort of name do they look as though they might have? What sort of job might they do? What does their bank balance look like, and what sort of car might they own?
Make sure that you have a notepad or a blank document, and start writing these ideas down. You can do it SoC style if you wish, or longhand – it’s entirely up to you. The point is to try to fill in as much background detail about this person as you can, making judgements and assumptions based entirely on your natural ability, perhaps natural need, to assess people.
What were they doing just before the ‘photo’ was taken? What will they be doing afterwards? Have they ever been in trouble with the police, and if so, what for? What clubs, societies or movements do they belong to? What party did they vote for in the last election? Are they married? What does their bedroom look like?
By doing this you will be getting your creative juices flowing, helping the writing mechanism to grind its way into action, and it’s surprising how this easy little task can help you feel far more able to approach your normal writing. It’s a simple little game, and works really well.
But there’s another side to doing this. Every now and then you’ll find one of these characters taking form in a very realistic and believable way. They start to step out of the screen and become a very real figment of your imagination…
You can use the editor to change their facial features, adapting them a little if you feel the need. You can also save the faces you have generated; just email the unique ID number of your face to yourself and you’ll be able to access it, and even edit it again in future.
Just possibly you may find a character in your next story stepping straight out of your morning exercise.