Usually I post on Saturday mornings. Today, I didn’t have anything to post, and after a day’s deliberation, I feel like I still have nothing to say. In other words, nothing has inspired me to write today.
True, I’m in the throes of a head cold, and coughing gives me a sharp headache, but…is that an excuse for not posting?
Anyway, today has led me to wonder: what do you write about when you have nothing to say? How do you get out of something usually termed “writer’s block?”
the condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing.
as according to Oxford Dictionaries.
Some people don’t believe in writer’s block, and claim that the muse comes to them when they sit down and write, regardless of time and place–it’s a matter of discipline. I’m usually of that camp, but this week I’ve been especially tired and this cold has given me a run for my money. For example, I laid down today to watch some TV and fell asleep, even though I got a good night’s sleep last night.
Every writer has a legitimate excuse sometimes. There are days when writing just won’t happen, and it’s okay to take a break, even if unplanned. When life gets in the way, sometimes it’s a way of saying that you need a break, even though you’re not ready to take one.
But even that is not my point for today. Writing is commonly considered an “inspired” job. But what happens when you aren’t inspired? Either the job doesn’t get done, or it’s done half-heartedly.
If you’re building a business of writing (or blogging), neither of those are really an option. Sure, no one can be 100% 100% of the time, but you need to have a consistent, good output in order to stay in business. So what do you do when you have nothing to say?
There are several ways to brainstorm, but one of them is by simply opening a journal and starting with one word. For blogging, it could be “blogs” or “blog topics.” Then draw a line from that and start writing down as many blog topics as you can think of, without stopping to consciously think. Just keep the pen on the paper as much as possible. If you have an idea associated with one of those topics, write it down with a line connecting it, and continue connecting thoughts and ideas until you run out. Then take a look at them and see what you have a lot of ideas for and if you can muster up an article out of them.
A lot of writers will keep a list of topics to write about, turning to it in times like this when you need a topic quick. I do that in my blog drafts. I have probably a dozen unfinished blogs in there, but not one of them seemed to be something I could expand upon this time. (I’m blaming the head cold for that.) But keep your unfinished drafts for days or weeks like this, when you need an idea quick and nothing comes to you.
If you’re truly out of ideas, peruse other blogs and their archives and see if something ignites your muse. Don’t steal from them–that’s plagiarism, but try to find a new twist on what they’re saying, or even disagree with them.
Sometimes, pictures really are worth a thousand words. There are inspiring pictures, sad pictures, pictures that remind you of your past or of your possible future. Don’t be afraid to use what a picture invokes to inspire your story or your blog.
Your Past/Personal Experience:
Likewise, personal experience can sometimes speak volumes to a reader. They could be going through a similar thing and need to hear what you have to say. Use a brainstorming method to come up with topics that you could “speak” on, and write from there.
Take A Walk:
Sometimes you just need a change of scenery. Perhaps you see a tree and it inspires you to perfect that paragraph you’re stuck on, or maybe it’s what your entire story will center around, or maybe you see a child playing, and that sets the stage for your next scene, or … you get the idea. Sometimes it just takes letting your feet wander for your mind to wander down the right path.
If you have the opportunity, take a break by working on a different project. If you’re stuck in your novel, work on a short story, or a different novel. If you’re stuck on non-fiction, work on some fiction, and vice versa.
Keep A Notebook:
Slightly different from a file cabinet, keep a notebook on things that inspire you. Paste magazine pictures, words and their definitions which provoke you, fabrics or postcards, whatever you see and think, “hey, I could write something about that.”
Consider The Other Side:
Think about what your reader would want to read about. Could you give it to them? If there’s a plot twist you’re approaching which will make them unhappy, could you write it the other way? Or can you think of an article they might like to read that you feel equipped to write?
Hopefully some of these suggestions can help you write when you feel the muse has abandoned you!
Tell me: What techniques do you use to avoid writer’s block?