by Catherine L. Tully
Writer’s block–the foe of every writer. Nearly every author has experienced it, but how can you conquer it? There is no one way that works for everyone, but here are some great tips for getting those creative juices flowing again…
Try One Word
Use an online thesaurus or get a pocket one if you like to write on the go. Sometimes all it takes to get started is a word or two to build things around. Try looking up words that might be overdone and tired to see if there is a new way of using them. This also helps you avoid clichés and choose words from a wider range.
Make a List
Lists can help you get moving too. Make a list of 50 places that you have been and then use one for a travel article, the setting of a poem or for background in your novel. How about a list of people that you admire–you can write characters based on some of the qualities these people have. The possibilities are endless! Lists of favorite foods, cities, movies or artists can provide a jumping-off point for you–be creative…
Sometimes you are just plain stuck. You keep trying and trying but nothing comes. Time for a change of scenery. Get up and walk away for a while, but bring a paper and pen with you. Often, when you take the pressure off things will just start to happen; but be ready for the inspiration.
Keep a Folder
Or an envelope. Or a box. Or a stack–whatever. Freelance writers often refer to this as a “tickler file” and it is designed to give you ideas when the river runs dry. See an interesting picture in a magazine? Clip it out and put it in the file. Get an idea for a cool article but have too many assignments to get to it right away? Jot it down and slip into the file. This is a great place to get started when you are stumped.
Inspire Some Ideas
Pull out some music that you absolutely love the lyrics to and use it for inspiration. Like the sound of rhyme in the words? Try some rhyming yourself. Does it make you think of a particular place? Pick up a pen or open up your laptop and start to write…see where the music takes you.
Break the Rules
Do you only write non-fiction? Try writing a short story or poem. Do you write in a serious tone? Give yourself permission to write something that is pure nonsense. Falling into a pattern when you write isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but breaking that pattern can sometimes give a rush of ideas. Let yourself play around a little. Experiment.
Do Something Else
This is different than walking away–doing something else constructive can help you feel like you are still getting things accomplished. For example, if you are at your wits end, try tending to business instead. File some papers or organize your expenses. Sometimes it just isn’t happening and there is nothing that you can do about it–but you wind up feeling guilty and sitting there trying to force it. Make use of the time and get something else done.
Writer’s block is no fun for anyone. Try some of these ideas to get yourself going again when you are stuck. Also try and keep in mind that it is only temporary–even if it doesn’t feel that way at the time.