Writing can be illusive. Writers know this. You think you have a great idea, but when you sit down to write, it doesn’t always pan out.
I’ve been writing for the majority of my life. I’ve written songs, poems, essays, articles, non-fiction, and fiction. I know there are times when writers feel like beating their heads against the wall because nothing’s coming together. Beating your head against the wall won’t help. It hurts. But there are many things that can help boost your creative spark as a writer.
1. Do the Opposite
Too often we think we know the story. As writers, we’ve mulled it over in our heads. We get stuck thinking there’s only one way to write the piece. Still, we sit there with a blank sheet of paper. Try this: look at your problem backward. If you’re writing in first person, try the third person. If you’re writing in past tense, try writing in the future tense. Sometimes, doing the opposite can trigger new ideas.
2. Make a Map
Words are linear. Maps are much broader. Creating mind maps broadens the imagination. Instead of writing words, start drawing connections between ideas. Create bubbles, use arrows, scribble, draw, do whatever it takes to get the creative juices flowing.
3. Restrict Yourself
I teach college writing and speaking courses for a living. I’ve watched students struggle with this again and again. They can’t choose a topic and get started because the have too many ideas. They often choose topics that are too broad. Sometimes, restrictions are exactly what writers need. If your idea is overwhelming, you probably need to narrow things down. Try it. You might be surprised.
4. Do Something Crazy
Great writers take risks. If you’re struggling with an idea, take a break and go do something out of the ordinary. Drive fast, (but not too fast). Eat foods you’ve never tried before. Travel to a new destination. Or you could just take a risk with your writing. Write something you’d never expect yourself to write.
5. Think About Other People
When I write, I often ask myself, “What do readers want?” I try to put myself in their shoes. Thinking about others can spark ideas. The same thing can work with fiction. Ask yourself how others would feel in certain situations. How would they react? Don’t isolate yourself inside your own head. Put yourself into others’ heads and you’ll open up many new doors.