Most writers run into that unspeakable thing called Writers Block at one time or another. I know I have, and today I thought I would share some of my favorite things to do when I find myself stuck staring at that taunting blank screen.
1. Idea: Do a random word sprint
Random word sprints are one of my favorite things to do. I’ve found the best place to start is with a dictionary. Randomly pick a page and write down the first word you see. Repeat this until you have a list of 50 words. Next, take it one step further and hit thesaurus.com. Look up each word and pick your favorite synonym. When you’re finished, not only have you grown your vocabulary, but I’m betting you’ll be able to find that idea you were struggling to grasp at in the first place.
2. Idea: Read a newspaper
One of the things I like about reading a newspaper rather than a novel is that the newspaper is full of facts instead of colorful imagination. Sometimes all we need is that idea—that fact—to add our own color to. What better place to find it then a document that is full of facts?
3. Idea: Take a picture and describe it
I find this approach most helpful when I’m struggling with description, but it’s also just a fun activity that can help clear your mind. Take a camera and head outside. The important thing here is not to search for that perfect shot but just start shooting completely unplanned pictures. I know this will be hard since we writers are perfectionists by nature, wanting the perfect back splash for your epic scene, but give it a try. Once you’ve taken your fill of pictures head back to the computer and pick your favorite. At this point, I like to start at the bottom and work my way up describing everything I see right down to the thickness of the grass. When you’re finished you may have just found the perfect setting for the scene you were struggling with.
4. Idea: Review something
We have all watched a movie or a TV show, read a book, or checked out a website recently, why not review it? When I review something to help get my creative juices flowing, I usually pick an element to review that I was struggling with in my writing. For example, if I was struggling with giving one of my characters a personality, rather than being just a bump in the scene, then I’ll critique the characters in the movie I just watched. This works because it makes you look at every little detail about their personality, and in turn may give you the idea that will help you figure out who you really want your bump of a character to be.
5. Idea: Stop thinking and just write
It’s easy to over think what you’re writing about. While your mind spirals out of control thinking of the best possible word or setting or character you might actually forget what it was that you were trying to write in the first place. The key here is to put the project aside and clear your mind. Pick the first thing that pops into your head and write it down. If it’s just a word write it down, expand on it, and evolve it. Try working with this thought for 30 minutes. Before you know it, you’ll be picking up the project that had you stumped with fresh inspiration.
As you’ve probably noticed, all the things I do the beat writers block involves stepping away for the project that has me stumped. I’ve spent many hours staring at a blank computer screen, reluctant to walk away, determined to finish the idea that seems to have fluttered just out of my grasp.
I think one of the biggest mistakes (at least of me) is that we try to force the words to fill the paper instead of letting the words come naturally. So when you feel that forcing feeling coming on, a change of scenery may be just the thing you need.