I’m in the midst of final tweaks on a book; the tweaks are based on beta read feedback and my wife’s; which is, of course, always right.

For the past couple of days I’ve been struggling to resolve some plot issues that were raised, but really, this isn’t any different from any job where a person has to resolve problems creatively. I remember that some operations orders for various missions required innovative thinking. One direct action target my A-Team was assigned required a lot of “thinking outside the box” a term I don’t like, because THERE IS NO BOX. So that’s the first of the 5 ways:

  1. There is no box. If you think you are constrained by rules, by precedent, by your capabilities, you’ve already failed. You can aim high and miss, or you can shoot low and hit, but the high miss is better than the low hit.
  2. Don’t ignore the obvious. Sometimes I get too smart for my own good. I was just struggling with a plot problem, trying to figure out how to get two characters to meet and exchange information. And in that sentence was my flaw. The key was they had to exchange information; they didn’t have to actually meet. But I was so caught up on them meeting, I was twisting the scene into a knot, when the solution was easy: just call.
  3. Trust your subconscious. As a writer of over 60 books, I trust my subconscious more and more. There is something to be said for gut instinct. Does it feel right? Does it feel wrong? My theory on this, which might be called sixth sense, is that your brain actually is processing the problem, you’re just not aware of all the processing. And you often don’t get the message right away in words or a vision; it comes in the form of emotion. Grab onto the emotion and follow it to the words or the vision.
  4. WDW_B&N copyAsk for help. Even if it’s from someone who isn’t in your creative field. In fact, because they don’t know all your “boxes” they often can give advice you wouldn’t even consider. I call this HALO; jumping in from a high altitude where a person can see the entire picture on the ground, but not be on the ground mired in the problem. They have a different perspective. It’s how I’ve taken my Who Dares Wins program into diverse organizations ranging from an IT start-up in Silicon Valley, to a Fortune 100 company in Mexico City, to a Nursing program at a major university, and so on. The details are often different, but they all have many things in common; primarily people.
  5. Listen to advice. This is a hard one; creative people tend to be rather proprietary. And part of this is being open to advice from places you might not expect it. Everyone has something valuable to share. I often find that some advice I get doesn’t seem to apply at all; until I process it and drop my prejudices against it. Then, it’s often right on target.

BURNERS(Bob_Deb_TN)Those are just ways I function creatively. What about you? What do you do? One that just occurs to me now, as I sit in my hotel room cooling down from my trip to the fitness center, is that I am a big believer in physical activity to stimulate the brain. I figured out the “call don’t meet” while running.

And coming very soon (6 October): burners.