It happens to us all. The dreaded block turns up and try as we might, words just won’t flow. Everything we write sounds like fudge and more often than not we end up thinking we’re never going to write another word again.
As much as you may believe you’re the only one out there suffering in this way, you’re not alone. Nowhere even close to it.
What’s important is to not let it worry you. Understand that this is something that happens to a lot of writers and that as unbelievable as it may seem at the time, the muse will come back. And probably with a vengeance. You’ll have so many ideas you won’t have time to get them all down on paper!
In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to help get your creative juices flowing again. The following are seven ideas that have worked for me. I can’t guarantee they’ll work equally as well for you, but if you need to write and the pen’s not moving, they’re definitely worth a try.
1. Imagine you were a child during the era of your grandmother’s childhood. What do you imagine you would be doing right now? If you could take one modern item back in time with you, what would it be and why? How do you imagine others would react to that item? Keep working on ideas that bring the past and the present together.
2. Try to see life through the eyes of a dog, cat or any other pet. What would make you happy? When would you feel frustrated? What matters to you? If you’re a hamster, do you mind being caged up? If you’re a dog, does it matter that your human wakes you from your comfortable bed to drag you out for a walk in the rain? Try to keep things from an animals perspective rather than making them furry humans.
3. Write a letter to ‘somebody’ explaining what you’re writing about, why you’re writing it and how you envisage the end product. If you’re writing a novel, are you planning to find an agent? Will you write the whole novel first or just the first three chapters and then start sending out? If you’re writing a column, where will it be used? Tell your ‘somebody’ absolutely everything that’s related to your writing project.
4. Find a picture that inspires you and write about it. You don’t necessarily need to describe the picture, rather write about how the picture makes you feel; why you feel drawn to it; what you think made the artist/photographer create that particular picture. The opposite can be done with a picture you dislike.
5. Take a newspaper or magazine and open it on a random page. Now pick a headline and write your own story around it. It doesn’t have to be the same kind of story as the original. “Men Found In Tunnel” might originally have meant illegal immigrants trying to cross the border, but your story could be about jail-breakers, coal miners or anything else your imagination throws up.
6. Go for a walk. When you get back, write about the things you saw and experienced. Remember the bird splashing about in the puddle? Or the dog owner who allowed her pet to foul the street without clearing it away? Or what about the children riding bikes without helmets? Or the shop keeper standing at the doorway chatting with a couple of elderly women? How did those things make you feel?
7. Interview a friend. He or she doesn’t have to be present – if you know them well enough, you can conduct a fictive interview. Now re-write their answers in a biographical manner.
Hopefully a few of those ideas will help you break your block. Just remember to not let it upset you too much because stress and anxiety will only add to the problem.