Whether you are a teenager or an established author, whether you write short stories, novels, genre fiction, plays, screenplays, poetry, or memoir, Storymatic can help you generate new material. Here are a few tips for approaching Storymatic as a serious writing tool (all of this pertains to Rememory and Synapsis too).
This stuff isn't in the booklet.
Before you draw any cards, give yourself a time limit–say, 30 minutes or one hour. It's okay to be open-ended, but it's often more productive to work within a set amount of time so your energy is focused and you're less inclined to wander over to the fridge to see if there's a snack. Also, once you get the hang of working for a certain amount of time, it becomes easier to make that time a part of your regular schedule.
It's odd to say this on a webpage, but when you sit down to write, turn off the internet. If you ask any writer what their biggest distraction is, odds are they will say it's the internet. Turn it off when you sit down to write. Also, turn off your phone and put it facedown in a place where you can't see it (studies suggest that even the sight of a phone screen can be distracting!).
Now center yourself. Easy to say, right? But what does "center yourself" actually mean? Well, it means sit so the bottoms of both your feet touch the floor. This grounds you in the moment. Do not cross your legs– get those feet on the floor. Uncross your arms. Let them hang easily at your side or rest comfortably on the table in front of you. Try to keep your spine straight. It can take practice to do this, but it's worth it because when you sit like this, it makes it easier for the stories to find you and move through you.
Breathe. Take a moment and come back to your breath. That means close your eyes and take a couple breaths that are deeper than your usual breaths– exhale all the way and then inhale a full, rib-expanding breath. You don't need to get all meditative, but you do need to come back to your breath for at least a few seconds. Everything starts with the breath. A sentence is a unit of breath. Poetry is breath. Take a moment to breathe, to let go of the rest of your day, to relax your thinking mind, and to be here, now. Again, the purpose of doing this is to make it easier for stories to find you.
Now open your eyes, draw your cards, and go. You do not need a computer to do this; all you need is a pencil and a piece of paper (or a tape recorder). Do not think. Do not edit yourself. You can lean forward and move your feet now.
Say yes to everything.
Let your imagination go wherever it wants to go, and let yourself go along for the ride. Nobody–nobody–writes a perfect first draft, so don't get hung up trying to do that. Your goal is to get a story down on the page where you can see it and start to shape it.
When writing, keep in the back of your mind the Two Laws of The Storymatic. Try to include the material on the cards in a substantial way. Do whatever the Wild Cards say. These simple parameters will keep you grounded, even as you turn off the editor in your head.
When your time is up, look over what you have written and start shaping your story. At that point, you can begin to deviate from the information on the cards... because at that point, you will have called a story into existence, and the story will establish its own terms for how it wants to be written.