Or – What to write when you can’t think of anything to write…
I see a lot of my friends who write go through patches of writer’s block. And many new writers intimidated by the blank page or screen. It’s okay. Every writer has moments of not feeling it.
It is how you approach that feeling that will separate you from people who want to write or try to write, and those who actually do the writing.
Now I’m not saying I have the one-size-fits-all solution to the infamous “block”. Every writer has their own way of dealing with it. What I AM SAYING is that maybe you can find some inspiration in the ways I deal with it, and perhaps it will help you find YOUR way.
I have a personal goal to write everyday. Whether I am working on my novels, my poetry, non-fiction, or blogging – I write every day. Do I produce a finished piece every day? No. I have scheduled on my calendar time to write and specifically days that I need to publish blogs. So on days where blog posts are published, those are finished pieces. Like this one!
So what do I write?
- Character conversations
- Character background – how many kids were in the family growing up. Does the character have siblings? Where are their parents and other relatives? What jobs did they ever hold? What is their favorite meal? Little things about a character adds depth to them, makes them more dimensional and relatable.
- Research notes for places that characters are visiting (for example I wanted to have a character meet another character in a park in Prague and then go to a coffee shop – Google Maps is FABulous for giving me street names, parks and the nearest coffee shop – so that I could lend a bit of realism to the scene).
- Sometimes I list names I’d like to use for characters in stories in the future or work into a story I am working on
- Adding to my “What if” file – which is my go to for ideas and if I can’t come up with any ideas to put in this file, then I google Weird News, to see what pops up and might inspire a short story, flash fiction or maybe even a whole novel.
- I reread some of my short and flash fiction stories and jot down backstory info on some of the characters there.
You’d be surprised what can happen when you start doing any of these items… most of the time I am inspired to outline a story arc, or go add some details to what I thought was a completed chapter, and then I find I am adding more to the story. Before I know it, I’ve written more than I thought I “felt” like writing.
And sometimes you need to go do something else that is creative, to loosen up the block. Like cooking, crafting, gardening, painting, sculpting, sewing, the list is long. Or you might just need to move around – yoga, dancing to your favorite music, or going for a walk.
And this is not to say that anyone MUST write daily. That is a habit I forced myself to create because I view this as my job. But then I also paint and schedule time every other day to do that or to work on marketing my artwork. That is also my job. (And I also schedule time for my gig as COO of a Corporation doing a software dev project; and my time to work on and manage my online store selling coffee). I have time scheduled, it doesn’t mean I stick to those schedules, because I interweave volunteer work and will drop everything to help family and friends.
Sometimes you simply cannot write – maybe you are processing some really deep emotions, or going through health issues. In those cases, give yourself the space to feel and process. It will improve your writing in the long run. Give yourself permission to have those times. You are the boss of you!