We’ve all been there, staring at the blinking cursor while our brain plays host to a symphony of crickets. There are days when taking a break from writing altogether is the best way to recharge your creative juices. But, facing deadlines, word count goals, and self-imposed milestones does not always allow the luxury of a day off.
If you need help jumpstarting your visionary side, try any (or all) of these suggestions.
Stick to Your Routine
Write regardless of whether or not you feel like it. Sometimes the act of writing itself will breathe life into your ingenuity (give it a minute), especially when paired with any of your coinciding habits. Just like any other day, pour that cup of coffee, settle into your favorite chair, and put your fingers to the keys.
If your routine leaves you empty, don’t throw in the towel. Try something new. Go to the library to write, the coffee shop, a park bench, or a hotel bar. Even a new room in your house can shake those ideas loose. I once heard of a writer slamming out that stubborn scene in the backseat of her minivan in the garage.
Write a Scene You Know You Won’t Need
If you explore different avenues of your story and dynamics of your characters, knowing your day’s work will likely end up in the bin and not the final draft, you have the potential to unlock a bit of magic. Choose a character, give them a “what if” scenario, and explore how they would react, then tuck the scene away if it doesn’t add to your story. At least you know how he/she would react when challenged.
Who knows? Your story may come to life with the new directional change.
Take a Scene You Already Have & Rewrite it in Another Character’s Perspective
This exercise is particularly helpful if you current creative snag is caused by the lack of depth in a scene or character. When you’re done, go back again to rewrite the scene in the original point of view, and see what has changed. Even if you don’t come away with an increased word count for the day, you have improved your overall WIP and can move forward with a clear understanding of the character’s motivations.
Do Something Active
For me, the dreaded “writer’s block” rears its ugly head when I have a lull in my planning; maybe I need to piece together an unexpected scene to the originally designed plot, and I’m stuck. Staring at a blank screen never helps, but jarring my brain into attention with some physical activity usually unlocks my puzzle solving side.
Go for a walk
Do the dishes
Cook or bake something
Try a new a drink
Dance in the living room
Drive around a new part of town
Visit a new park
In addition to being a writer, I’m an artist and illustrator. When my brain fails to produce words, I turn to colored pencils and paints to find solutions. How can you cross train your brain?
Detail your car
Go to town on an adult coloring book
Find photos of people online who represent your character line up, and make a collage
Throw some inspiration photos up on your Pinterest board (avoid the internet’s infamous black hole)
More specifically, read outside of your genre. If I sneak a book in my reading list that stretches my comfort zone, it usually shakes some of the best ideas loose. If you read a steady diet of Women’s Fiction, grab a Space Opera. If you fancy World War II era Memoirs, try a Middle-Grade Fantasy. If you’re short on time, try a cluster of award-winning short stories.
If all else fails…
Type out Some Pure Shite
I’ve said it before, but if you type out an entire page, and there’s only a single sentence worth saving, you’re still ahead. Nora Roberts said it best, “I can always fix a bad page. I can’t fix a blank one.”
What are some of the ways you electrify your creativity? Leave it in the comments below!