Saturday, October 27, 2012

Guest Post: Donald Schlaich

Having a novelist for a boyfriend has its perks. For one thing, if I need to do some quiet time stuff during the evening I can say, "Why don't you work on your novel/blog/whatever it is that your brain is churning out at the moment?" For another thing, I can say, "Hey, why don't you write a guest post? I've been working almost 60 hours this week and my brain is empty."

Without further ado, I present to you Gabriel Reads' first guest post: 

Exploring and Building Creativity
By Donald Schlaich

Where do you get your ideas?

Well, you see, there’s this post office both in Duluth. You just send them a dollar every month and they send you ideas.

No, not really. But it was a line I’ve heard used by Michael Stackpole and I found it funny. After a certain point when you’re trying to be a writer you don’t seem to run out of ideas. But it’s getting the ideas started that’s probably the hard part for a lot of people.

I’m probably lucky, in that I’ve always been spinning ideas out of my head. I think that’s one big important detail, letting yourself be open to the idea of creating something, no matter how absurd. My brain has a kind of strange rest state (or maybe it’s always seemed like I’m the unusual one) where I’ll spin out fantasies, stories and ideas when I’m doing something else, no matter if it was pushing carts around a grocery store parking lot when I was in high school or just walking home from the bus station.

The second thing is I’ve always been a voracious reader, devouring whatever I can get my hands on, taking a recommendation from people for what’s a good book series to read or just grabbing something because it caught my eye (which was how I found the Stainless Steel Rat when I was a kid in the library). Seeking out new information and new stories means that you don’t become stagnant in your own art. It doesn’t matter that I don’t intend to be a great “Literary” author, reading everything that I can get my hands on helps me push my own skills further by learning how others tell their story.

The third thing that’s probably been a strong factor in not just bringing me to writing, but helping me to keep ideas flowing is that I’ve had an outlet to let me tell stories and work with others to tell stories. Hi, my name is Don, and I play Dungeons and Dragons. Playing tabletop roleplaying games has been one of my greatest creative outlets for the past decade and a half. It’s been a wonderful tool for helping me to think about stories and characters as they relate to each other. I’ve put on and taken off a dozen different personas in games over the last fifteen years, and it was in gaming that I first really found how to make the kind of characters who really come alive and live inside my head.

I doubt I’ve got the perfect solution to “How to get and keep your creative juices flowing”,  but what I’ve got seems to work for me, giving me a selection of ideas to pick from when I want to pick up and start a new project.

Thank you all for the loan of your time and your eyes. if you’ll excuse me, my protagonist has gone entirely too long without someone trying to end his life.


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