I spent part of Saturday with a few in-laws at an emergency room where the family patriarch was being treated. (He was home by three that afternoon and taking part in Memorial Day festivities today.) Because we had one too many people there and I wasn't actually related to anybody, I got to go out to the waiting room where there were chairs and a TV, making it far superior to where everyone else was.
Seeing my chance, I pulled out a notebook and went to work.
What I did was some freewriting on a character known as Grandpa Mike who is a hoarder, thus able to provide the kids in the 365 Story Project with all kinds of junk. At the end of last week, I'd decided to make him a bigger presence in the book. I needed to do a better job on why he has all this junk and where it is and how the kids get to it, anyway, and if I started using him more, he could provide me with a lot of material.
So I'm freewriting away trying to come up with what he did for work before he retired and how that related to the hoarding thing and what place he will have in Tanner's life. After doing that for a while, I realized that, no, I did not need another character to deal with, particularly an adult character, since this was a kids' book. Plus, a character should never be used just to fill space. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
I was no further ahead in doing a better job on why Grandpa Mike has all this junk and where it is and how the kids get to it. But now I knew that I didn't want Grandpa Mike around all the time, calling on the phone, and turning up at Easter and the Labor Day picnic. That may seem like a step backward, but not really.
Okay, that happened during the day on Saturday. That evening I was reading just before I went to bed when I suddenly came up with an idea for what Grandpa Mike could have been doing for work that fits in with all the junk he's collected all his life! That, my little lads and lasses, is what is known as a breakout experience. I'd been working on the problem, collected data, had let it go and relaxed, and voila! A problem solved!
I've got my idea written down on a piece of paper from my Nancy Drew notepad, and the paper is floating around somewhere on my nightstand, just waiting for me to go back to work. Whenever that may be.