Dealing With Writers Block

The Dreaded Blank Page

Have you ever sat down to write one of those excellent story ideas you have in your head, only to have them somehow disappear the moment you pick up your pen/pencil or sit at the keyboard?

Writer’s Block
Every author’s been there. So have people who only wanted to send a holiday greeting to Aunt Bea. I can’t begin tell you how much time I’ve personally wasted, staring at a blank page.

There have been moments I couldn’t find enough energy to kick my muse into gear, no matter how many cups of coffee I put into my system.

But I’ve discovered a few ways that help me rediscover my creativity and build story ideas that will keep me writing for hours.

Junk Mail Inspiration
Sounds silly, I know; but take the next two pieces of junk mail you receive and use them to build a story. Everyone gets this kind of mail; I call it crap (sorry, but that’s what most of it is) from politicians, credit card and insurance companies. Spam e-mail works just as well. Pick any two and combine them.

No matter what your life situation or political leaning, they can lead your thoughts to many unusual situations. Plenty of writing fodder. Once your brain’s thinking again, shift to the work you really want to do.

Invent a History
We’ve all had friends, from grade school to college, that we knew quite well in that “once-upon-a-time” but haven’t seen since. The truth of their lives is quite often a mystery.

Well, pick one (change their names, of course) … and write about the life you imagine they could have been leading since you lost touch. The possibilities are endless.

Eavesdrop on a Conversation
OK, I admit it … I do this all the time, but not just for story ideas. I love to write dialogue; but to do it well takes practice.

I try to train my ear to the way people actually talk (sorry, Mrs. Bliss, all the grammar you tried to shove into my head all those years ago is worthless when it comes to catching the nuances of real conversation).

Try it sometime. When you’re in a writing funk, sit down (in a park, the mall, a restaurant) and observe the people around you. Listen to every conversation within earshot (try not to be obvious). Make a mental note of all the snippets you hear and imagine the stories they represent.

Pay close attention to the myriad ways people actually speak … then give one of the comments you overhear a twist to make it your own.

Request a Writing Prompt and Run With It
Sometimes the best cure for writer’s block is to let someone else start your story for you. You can search the web and find a number of sites that offer writing prompts, but I find it works just as well to simply ask someone to mention an idea to write about.

I belong to an online writer’s group that often has writing challenges. They create them for poetry, short stories or even flash fiction. My favorites are usually the ones for flash fiction, and they prompt you to use some object or group of objects (or even specific words) in a brief snippet of 500 words or less.

I find those challenges to be a great way to get started. For instance, consider this challenge:

In exactly 500 words (no more; no less), write a story about birth. Any style or genre and any loose interpretation of the word ‘birth’ is acceptable, but you must also include the words fire, coffee and javelin.

Admit it, as strange as the prompt might have seemed, you already have some rudimentary ideas. The neat thing about this kind of writing prompt is you can do it for yourself.

The idea you get from such an exercise may be just the inspiration you need to spark the next part of the story that has you stymied. It might even lead you to create a whole new story.

And there’s certainly nothing wrong with that.

If You’ve Got a Moment, Please Check Out My “Master Storyteller” Book Trailer

 

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