Whether you are on a strict deadline or just want to write because you enjoy it, not being able to think of an idea is frustrating. You can have all the best writing habits in the world, but if you don’t have a topic or direction you can feel helpless.
The good news is you don’t have to be at the mercy of the muse. Rather than waiting for inspiration to strike, go after it yourself. The next time you’re finding yourself at a loss, try these five tips before serious writer’s block sets in.
Why it works: Studies have shown that people who meditate are better at staying on task. A major roadblock to coming up with an idea, or being able to tease one out of a passing thought, is a lack of focus. Morning meditation can also help clear your mind, allowing your thoughts to wander freely to places you might not be able to logically force them to. Opening yourself up to this spontaneous creative brainstorm can kick-start the ideation process.
Create a Mind Map
Why it works: Just because you don’t have a clear idea at the ready, it doesn’t mean you don’t have parts of it. Often we have a few keywords, themes or even settings in the back of our minds, without being fully inspired to create a story from them. While you may feel a bit like you’re in A Beautiful Mind as you build your map, the benefits are worth it. Once you see your ideas on a page and begin to connect them, a story may form right before your eyes. For more, check out the official “Mind Mapping” website: mindmapping.com.
Try a Prompt
Why it works: Sometimes all you need is to put pen to paper, but that can be the hardest part. Using writing prompts gets you writing while removing the burden of choosing a topic. You may end up finding yourself writing something worthwhile thanks to the prompt, but more likely you will end up unlocking your own creativity and can smoothly move into writing on your own theme. If you’re not sure where to find some prompts – how about the Paperblanks App (download links to the right)?
Read Someone Else’s Work
Why it works: Being inspired by someone else’s work doesn’t mean taking their idea and copying it. It doesn’t even mean taking their idea and making it your own. Instead, let yourself truly dive into the piece of writing and see where it takes you when you stop for a break. You may imagine the way the plot could have gone and end up creating a whole new world. Or you may particularly enjoy a turn of phrase or characterisation and be inspired to research more about where that came from. Either way, you can’t be a writer if you don’t read, so why not start there. At the very least, you might get to read a good book!
Why it works: Think of Reddit, Google and Quora like online mind maps, where other people help to fill them in for you. If you have a keyword or theme you can try asking a question to see the types of responses you get, or simply see what other keywords pop up. Even if you’re not at the keyword stage yet, you can still browse online forums until something strikes your interest.
What do you do when the muse is playing hard to get?
About Paperblanks: 25 years ago, we created Paperblanks to help keep book heritage alive and vital in our modern age, and to offer an inspiring space for people to express themselves. Thanks for joining us on this journey! For more about Paperblanks, go to our website at paperblanks.com.