I get together with the PagePounders once a week. My friends are funny, dog lovers, but most of all we’re supportive of each other. That said, they’ve never heard me talk about zings and zangs. See, as part of my creativity, I use different expressions to get me in a mood. Some writers would never scream out, “You just zanged.” I do it all the time in the privacy of my writing room. Writers have different names for the same thing. Today let me introduce you to zing and zang.
Sometimes when I’m writing I just can’t connect to the juice that makes the words sing. Juice isn’t magical, but it’s what gives the words zing. I zing words when I’m feeling up, excited, and in the writing wave. I zang when I’m tired, irritable, and I’m stuck underwater where I can’t see the story flow.
So, how to rain zings and not zangs into your prose?
First, before you sit down to write take time to appreciate the small things, and yes, feel appreciative. Watch your dogs play and interact with them. Throw the toy for your cat. Step outside and note the wildlife or lack there of. Admire the changing trees in your back yard or nearby park. Breathe in the fresh air or turn your face to the sun.
I like to walk around my yard to see what’s changed or bloomed. You can’t zing life into words if all you do is zang by staying inside. Even if you have the scene mapped out, it won’t zing unless you ground yourself into the day. Routines are important because it sends a cue to your brain to move from left to right side thinking.
For those of you coming home from work the process is different and its harder. In your transport from work to home, see yourself mentally leaving work behind. If you wear certain tools at work like a stethoscope or uniform visualize taking it off. You’re leaving the job environment to go home and work on your hobby or passion. You can’t arrive home and expect to zing words if your mind is still back on the job. Push work from your mind by studying people.
Watch how they move or choose a word to describe the sound of their voice. Daydream about your vacation. If you spend too much time on your phone, your mind drifts to surfing, texting, or you go back to work by talking about it. Don’t engage! When your mind is free from the work site then visualize the scene you’re going to write. I call this step > mellow. Mellow= you’re in the scene in your mind.
While I’m feeling mellow, I play the scene I intend to write in my mind. In other words, I dream the scene as a movie clip in my head. I make sure the scene reveals a time of day, smells, tastes when appropriate. I think of these as background color. Play the scene in your mind from the viewpoint character. Each scene or chapter has to have a beginning, middle, and end. Make sure yours does before you write it by dreamin’ it first.
Another rule is each scene should drive the story forward. By dreamin’ your scene first you avoid having to toss out a scene you’ve spent valuable time on. Even if the words zing, if the scene doesn’t move the story forward you’ve hit a zang.
I know, realizing you’ve hit a zang after a few hours of writing is depressing. Honestly, the way to avoid a zang scene is to write each scene or chapter like it’s a complete story in your head before putting it on paper.
Creativity flows when you’re doing what you love. If your head is filled with leftovers from work, a past argument, or an impending speaking engagement, you’re pushing creativity out. Let the juice flow!
How to stay in creative mode?
1.Be aware of your favorite colors. If you’re not wearing them, look for them in the scenery around you. I have art in my writing room to push me into zing. Even if your writing room is in a closet use paint or fabrics to spark color. Color affects mood.
2.Consider scent to change your mood. This can be from perfume, candles, baking. When your sense of smell is activated, you can zing.
3.Be comfortable. I use a standing computer work station (homemade) and a sitting work station. Just switching between the two can switch me from zang to zing. I’m sorry I waited so long to do it.
4.Music can be helpful to set a mood, but be careful. If you’re singing lyrics, your concentration is divided.
5.Don’t try to edit your words while you’re writing the scene. Turn spell checker off if the red and blue colors bother you. Finish your scene and then go back and edit it. Creativity is a right brain function, editing is left brain, switching between the two creates paragraphs of zing and zang.
6.Your brain needs oxygen to zing. You need to set a timer so you get up and move around while writing. If you sit too long, your blood flow slows, ergo, brain work slows. So get up and jog in place or dance to the music you’ve been playing. I’ve spent hours sitting without much break, and I can tell the difference when I keep the blood flowing to my head.
7.Feeling zang? Glance through your photo albums. Put yourself back into the happy scene and enjoy it.
8.Laugh. Not at people but with people. Laughter is a great mood changer and it’s free. Playing with pets or kids stimulates laughter.
9. If every writer waited for the muse to strike or the zing to flow, books wouldn’t get written. Sometimes zang can be jazzed up in an edit. You have to learn the difference in your writing.
10. When all else fails, look through your high school yearbook. It never fails me.
Creativity is an asset in any workplace and is not just for writers. Creative people find solutions fast because their brain is used to jumping left and right. If you’re feeling zang at work and lagging behind schedule find a way to take an outdoor break. Just moving from artificial light to natural light will affect your brain (mood). Breaks are important to health in so many ways, but break means leaving the area you work in for another. Outside is best, but just going somewhere else in the building is effective.
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