Many years ago I wrote a poem about how it feels to sit in front of the blank page hoping to meet with the muse. Sometimes when the words don’t come you fear they may never come again. Thankfully there are also those magical times when the words are as impatient to be jotted down as a dog straining at the leash.
Writer’s block is feared and dreaded by many writers, but I have found some fun ways to nudge the creative engines back into life.
There are literally hundreds of little techniques I can share with you – but let’s start with this one. Play along with the ‘Write about what you know’ rule.
Anything and everything is worth writing about if the writer finds something engaging about the subject. Try these writing exercises based on first-hand observation:
I’ll start with my favourite one first as I rarely have to go beyond this one to get me going.
- Study a painting or a photograph and write a story about the subject, whether it’s a person, a place, or a thing, or a combination of two or all three.
- Take a look at titles of books you have on your bookshelf. Create a story based on one or more titles or one or the words that catch your eye in a title.
- Research historical figures on Wikipedia or in some other reference resource. Write about a fictional episode in their life — perhaps a chance meeting with another famous person (before or after they became famous) — or assign some invented secret to their life and write about it.
- Visit a historical location — a building, a site, a city — and write a factual account of its history or create a story in which it features, or one inspired by it. Or do the same for any structure or location, even if it’s brand new.
- Go to a public place and watch people (without, of course, making yourself obvious). Create backstories based on their appearance, their habits, and their communication styles. If you are a people watcher by nature you probably already subconsciously do this – you just haven’t committed it to paper yet.
- Visit a zoo or an aquarium, or even a pet store or a dog run at a park, and study the animals. Develop human characters based on their characteristics and interactions, and write about these people you’ve created.
If none of these inspire you here is something else to try. Give yourself one minute only for these exercises. You are going to write the first thing that comes into your head – even if they are just random words – those random words could be the trigger to something else that will have you writing until your ink runs dry!
Time yourself – you will be amazed that you want to keep going beyond the minute.
Start your one-minute story with
“I don’t know when …”
“I know …”
“I wanted to see …”
“I love …”
“I don’t remember …”
“If I could paint…”
Once you have completed one or more (it’s up to you) go back and read through what you have written. Is there anything in there that has form or the foundations of being something new?
Soon you’ll be saying “Writer’s block …pah … I never get writer’s block!”
Until next time.