If you’re tired of the same, old story…Turn some pages – REO Speedwagon: Roll with the Changes.

Let’s set aside the fact, for the moment, that I’m old enough to know who REO Speedwagon are (and, apparently, they’re still touring – so good on them).

That line encapsulates what I want to talk about today.

If what you’re doing isn’t working anymore, try something else.

Reading that, it sounds a little negative – like something is broken, but that’s not the case.

Every project is different and when you come out of it, you’re not the same writer you were when you went in. You’ve learned things. Gained skills, maybe even started to shake off habits that weren’t doing you any favors.

You’re improving.

Looking at it like that, it makes sense that not everything is going to make that same leveling up transition with you. Your processes are going to change. Some of them are going to be seamless, you just unconsciously make that shift and keep on rolling.

Other things aren’t going to be so smooth – because that’s the way life is. Most of the time it’ll feel like you’ve hit some kind of resistance, or slipped off the rails a bit.

Case in point: I’ve started using pictures as part of my character creation process.

I’d been stumbling to lay the foundation for a character. I had a vague idea of who they were, but I couldn’t hang anything on that. I can’t remember what it was that took me to Google images, but something caught my eye and looking at the picture – a close up shot of a red haired woman with piercing blue eyes – I thought, “This character is in there.”

I saved the picture in my project folder, and gave it the name of my character. I dropped the image into my Project (Scrivener will let you do that) and, while I’m fleshing out this character, I had the picture open and would go back to it again and again.

Nothing was dictated by the picture – Hair, eye, skin color was fluid, but it did give me something to focus on as I brought this character to life.

Sidebar: This process is far from refined, and is something of a “Rabbit Hole” in terms of trying to find just the “Right” look, but I’m sanding the rough edges off.

I am currently working on two projects where I’ve done this for each of my main characters, and some secondary characters. If you’d told me not even a year ago, that I’d have adopted this method and would be spending a lot of time staring at a picture of Sam Elliot being, well, Sam Elliot, I wouldn’t have believed you.

Looking ahead, I can already see that this has become part of the process for me now.

It works, when the way I had always been doing things had started to flag.

Maybe, if you’re struggling with what you’re working on, it might be that you need to step back and try something new.

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