Over on the Nanowrimo website we’ve started a Round Robin. That’s when someone starts the story and sets the main characters and main genre and people add to the story. I came up with the idea last month and we just started the August one today so we’ll see how it goes. It’s here at Nanowrimo Round Robin. I encourage everyone to check either this one out (you’ll have to sign up for Nanowrimo to contribute, but then again, that’s a good thing all on its own because it opens up a world wide writers’ community) or to start your own with your writing group.
I came up with it because sometimes you just can’t force your brain to work on your current project, and to shake things loose, you have to give yourself permission to play. No expectations, no pressure, no chance of it turning into anything publishable because it has so many authors with different voices and takes on the story that it’s not going to be coherent. That’s the point! You write because you want to, and you do weird things and make the story go off the rails and just go wacky like you don’t feel like you can in your “real stories.”
And this shakes stuff out. It leaves you free to explore. Maybe that stupid, wacky thing you never thought would work so you never “ruined” your own stories with it actually turns out to be brilliant. Maybe not. But either way, you’re writing and exploring in a way you haven’t since you started writing. Because after you started, and learned, and actually finished a book or three, you started having expectations. You started thinking you could make a living off this and you started trying to get better. Which is great if you want to make it, you have to have that. But it doesn’t do good things to your creativity.
It’s like growing up. You learn and you earn your own living, yada yada, you’re responsible and that’s great. But on the other hand, that stifles the little kid who ran on the playground and hung upside down on the monkey bars, doing cherry drops when the grown ups weren’t looking.
The Round Robin gives you the freedom to get that back. It’s the writer’s version of an empty jungle gym at night when you’re walking by and nobody’s going to judge you if you and your friends climb on and start playing sand tag. You play and then you go home to your responsibilities and act like an adult again, or in this case, you go back to your stories with structure and character development, and maybe you feel just a little bit more alive and young again 🙂