Well, this past week hasn’t been too bad. I have, at least, started writing again, and finally feel I’m making progress, even if it isn’t as much as I’d like (but let’s leave that alone, shall we?)
So, what got me back writing? I did a few different things, and since perhaps they could help you, I’m listing what I did and have heard can help below.
Using other writing / notes to get you started:
Go back over old notes for WIPs (Works in Progress).
Look at those old notes. Is there enough information there to get you writing again? Was there something missing that stopped you before, or possibly gave you a semi-reasonable reason to quit? If there are holes in the plot notes, how can you fill them?
Look over abandoned beginnings and other randomly scribbled story notes or ideas.
I’ve found that when I’m not writing one particular novel and being highly productive, I’ve started lots of stories, but haven’t finished many of them. So, go back over what you have that you started on. Does one in particular catch your fancy or excite you again? Perhaps an old idea sparks a new one.
Using other methods to get started:
Try a change of environment.
Perhaps you’ve always written in your office, or at your kitchen table. What about (if possible, especially with a laptop) moving to the couch? Outside? What about using a public computer, or moving your laptop to a coffee shop? Perhaps a different environment will free up your thinking.
Do you usually work in complete silence? Have you ever tried working with music in the background? Is there music you’d imagine could be a soundtrack for your story? What about noticing how different music can inspire different moods? Experiment to find what works. Then create a playlist that could help you write a particular story / WIP, and don’t be afraid to change it up to match the tone / time period / genre you’re working on. This can also be helpful when switching between two genres or sub-genres to get you properly “situated” in the story.
Write something outside of your genre.
Experiment. Play. Remember why writing can and is fun (even though sometimes it’s not). Perhaps you just saw a great movie in a genre you’d never write in. Challenge yourself to write a scene or develop a character in that genre. What challenges does this present? What scenarios / characters are you drawn to? Perhaps this could be used in or even become a future WIP.
Try timed writing, either to create a short story or perhaps spark the beginning of something longer.
Look for themes suggested on-line or invent something yourself. Timed writing can be to fit a particular theme, like say “ducks”. Or, it can be just you, a timer, and the keyboard. Whatever happens, you just start typing and have to continue to write for the five minutes / ten minutes / hour you demand of yourself. You may start out typing that you have no idea what to write, or perhaps something comes to mind: just go with it, just keep writing. This is not meant to be a masterpiece, but it is meant to get you writing.
Try writing to fulfill a particular theme or “assignment”.
This could be timed or untimed, could be specific or vague. There are lots of prompts out there, like “write about the sea” or “write something sad” or “write about a very old / young / annoying person, from their POV,” etc. Whatever the case, just start writing and force yourself to write to either time limit or word count. Much of the work may not be something you’ll use, but then again, perhaps you’ll discover something new about you and / or your writing.
Play the “what-if” game. Brainstorm.
Start with some kind of scenario, perhaps a scene you’re having trouble with. Brainstorm at least 10 ideas, and as you do so, do NOT allow yourself to edit as you do so. Turn off the inner-editor. Could your 19th century heroine be abducted by aliens? Of course she could. This may not turn out to be a viable idea, but if you let yourself write down whatever occurs, amongst some of the wild and crazy, there will be useful ideas, too.
So, did any of these ideas work? Below are some further ideas. Please, comment and leave others if I’ve missed some.
Here are some links to pages intended to start you writing again:
- OneWord – Very cool website I only discovered today; offers a prompt and screen to start you on a quick timed writing exercise and help improve flow of your ideas.
- Overcoming Writer’s Block – This link provides a few quick suggestions to get you writing again.
- How to Write A Novel Using the Snowflake Method – Not sure if this method is really for me, but maybe it might work for you.
- Break Writer’s Block: Don’t Start at the Beginning – Sound advice. Check out the related articles down below.
- Note to Canadian authors: Stop tweeting, start writing! – likewise very sound advice, and a reminder to make sure the writing comes first!