Sometimes when I can go into a liminal state, inspiration really strikes. Today the state was brought on by being on the bus with my favorite music playing on my iPod and the sun shining low, right in my face. The glare of the light and the blocking of all external sound helped me to tune out the world and let me step sideways into my main character to see her world as she was seeing it. It’s eerie when that happens but that’s sometimes when I get the best insight into what’s going on. It’s also sometimes when I get my best writing done.
I know this is sounding a little bit too metaphysical, but think of it this way: sometimes you have to let go of your left-brain and let your creative right-brain take over. Let it fly without a net. Another common liminal time is the time between wakefulness and sleep. If you’ve ever experienced that weird state when you’re not sure if you’re asleep yet or not, that’s it. And that’s a really good time to ask your character a question, or imagine what’s going to happen next (which is another reason to keep a notebook and pen by your bed, by the way). See what your brain comes up with – you might surprise yourself.
Just out of curiosity, I googled liminal states to see what the internet had to say about them. A lot, as it turns out, but one link in particular caught my eye since it was written for writers. In his post “Writing and Life: What is a liminal state and how do writers use it?” Darrell Pitt talks about liminal states, but he refers to them as the states your character can go through:
In biological terms puberty can be called a liminal state. It’s that in between period between childhood and adulthood. A group travelling from one place to another to resettle goes through a liminal state. A period of war can be called a liminal state. Once again, it’s that transitional period from one state of being to another.
A great interpretation of the liminal state, and one that can be very useful in planning out your character arcs.
I only wrote 257 words today, but some of that was phrases and sentences that helped me see my character’s world from her eyes, and gave me insight into what her physical world is like.
I also spent some time brainstorming ideas for a younger audience. I’ve been meaning to follow up on them and something made me start turning those gears again today. You’ll probably be hearing more about them soon so stay tuned.