Thursday, May 30, 2013

Baby Evil Writers 101: Using Triggers to Write

Using Triggers to Write
Julie Butcher

How many times have you sat down to write and the glittery shininess of the internet  swept you away? (Kind of like Calgon-take-me-away, right?) It is oh, so easy to just pop onto twitter for a few seconds and end up staying for two or three hours. Then, you’ll only accept the gifts from the fun neighbor games on facebook, and not actually play. Then an hour later it’s time to tuck the kids in bed or do the dishes. Real life takes over and you have zilch wordage for the day.

There are several different things to use to get working. I use audio, visual, and space for prompts.

When I begin a manuscript, I use one song where the beat and lyrics sing the story in my mind. I play it on repeat for the first several chapters—until I don’t really hear it anymore. Then, when it is finally time to write (remember, I have six kids) I play the song a couple of times and the story jumps back into my head. Even if I fall from grace and wander over to twitter or facebook, the song sticks the story into my brain. The downside of this method is that when you’re in the car and the song comes on the radio, you start getting story and you can’t write it down. (Very, very irritating)

Make a story board or character sheets. (I already told you how to do that here.) Look at them before you begin writing. It really does help to make the characters full-fleshed. Then you won’t give them the wrong eye or hair color and they won’t use another character’s slang words. This saves on editing later
You need a place where you write. It needs to both be so familiar that it isn’t distracting and uncomfortable enough that you don’t fall asleep. It needs to be safe so that you don’t worry if people come in or out. Preferably, there needs to be a door you can lock or a ladder you can pull up. I’m lucky enough to have a clubhouse—with ferocious guard dogs and cannons and a moat. Okay, no dogs or ditches but I do have a clubhouse. You might have to make do with a locked bedroom door.

The thing is that by using prompts, you’ll save a few minutes, or hours. That’s a good thing, right?


  1. I'm a huge believer in using triggers to step out of the gnat-swarm of life distractions. I have a dedicated writing space (the dungeon), specific Pandora channels based on the manuscript I'm massaging... and the bourbon helps too!

  2. Great ideas. One of my crit partners suggested I change where I have been writing because I have been stuck in my story. I had created a little writing cave (really just a table in the corner of the study) but never used it. I did last night and it worked.

    Music is harder because if I like the song, I tend to sing to it which distracts me.

    Of course the biggest distraction is the 9yr old boy child.


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