Writing Tips from Alice Kuipers

The Worst Thing She Ever Did

I recently read The Worst Thing She Ever Did by Alice Kuipers. It’s the story of a young girl name Sophie who went through a traumatic event and is having trouble going on with her life after it. While my own traumatic events weren’t quite the same as Sophie’s, I could definitely identify with her struggle to express herself and find not only the missing words to do so but discover who she is now that everything in her life has changed.

The Worst Thing She Ever Did is a young adult novel written as Sophie’s journal, so you see inside her head, into what she’s thinking and feeling, as she attempts to open up on the blank pages. At first, the entries are brief with little detail of her daily life and they are spaced days apart. As the book continues, you see her slip a few bits and pieces of the past in as she more fully details her days.

Because a strong theme of the book is finding ways to get unstuck so you can open up and express yourself, I asked if Alice Kuipers could share a bit with us about how she gets unstuck and finds inspiration to get her lost words flowing again.

I’m really glad to be guest blogging for you. Thanks. You asked me to share a few writing tips and so I thought I’d blog a bit about how to get inspired when you’re stuck and you don’t know what to write. In my novel The Worst Thing She Ever Did, the main character, Sophie, is completely stuck with what to say in the face of her suffering. She is lost for words and until she gets unstuck she can’t move on to her future. Turns out, for her, writing is the way forward.

Writer’s block can be something quite terrifying. The blank page stares at you, or more likely the blank screen. That little cursor blinks impatiently. How do you get ideas? Well, there are lots of sources of inspiration so here are five ideas to get you unstuck and get writing.

  1. Read magazines and newspapers especially if you’re writing SciFi because thrilling and weird innovations and events will get your imaginative neurons firing. I saw an old article about giant sinkholes in Guatemala the other day — that could inspire anything from serious melancholy poetry to wild exotic fantasy.
  2. Think of a hero of yours and put them in a challenging situation. What would they do? The harder the challenge, the more difficult the situation, the better the story.
  3. Take a line from something you’re reading and use it to inspire you — it could be your first line for a story or the finishing line that you have to reach.
  4. Put on a piece of music you haven’t listened to for a while but that you used to love. Let the memories the tune inspires get you writing.
  5. Imagine you’ve left every thing and every one you know somewhere far away. You’re in a totally unknown place. Are you still you? What happens? Sometimes writing what you don’t know (as opposed to the old adage of writing what you know) can get you fired up and over being stuck.

Getting unstuck is one thing. But being inspired is just the start of discovering yourself as a writer. It took me several years to find the way I wanted to tell the stories I want to tell.

For me, taking my time was the best way to discover my voice, so I have one final piece of advice on finding your voice:

Experiment with every form and genre you can imagine (and read widely to discover forms you’d never heard of) until you find the one that suits you. You might surprise yourself and discover you’re a sound poet, or a comic playwright, or maybe you’re a screenwriter for children’s movies. The more you write, the more comfortable you’ll be in your writer skin.

I have loads more tips and prompts and links on my website alicekuipers.com for emerging writers.

Come and see me there!

Ali

More Alice Kuipers Links:
Browse Inside The Worst Thing She Ever Did
Alice Kuipers’ Official Website
Alice Kuipers’ HarperCollins Canada Website
Alice Kuipers on Twitter
Alice Kuipers on Facebook

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