Wherefore Art Thou, Inspiration?

Arg, Writer’s block.

If you are a writer, then you know what I mean.  You have this brilliant idea all set up un your head. You have a good inkling of what you want to say, and yet…

This subject is a little closer to home than I would care for today. I go to one of my writers groups on Tuesdays, where I would usually present my latest pages. Unfortunately, I have spent all week being a busy bee, doing everything but write. I even spent an hour today working on the nifty banner you see above. Putting off writing can sometimes feed into whatever is causing the block in the first place. And putting it off can become a habit. Before you know it, that novel you started three years ago is sitting in a box in your garage, underneath that burnt out set of Christmas lights you can’t bring yourself to throw away. Trust me, I know. I have a whole box of them that have piled up over the last decade, all unfinished.

Truly good writing takes a bit of work. The first piece of advice I would give any aspiring author is to keep at it; though I would caution you not to force it with the book/story/piece you are trying so hard to finish. It will sound stilted and forced, and your reader will know it. Instead, try one of the exercises I have learned to use over the years. I have them listed below.

1. One exercise I like to do when I feel like I can’t get my characters to talk to me, is to write a poem or two. It can be any style you want, but I like to make it rhyme. Here’s why: Thinking about rhythm and structure can help put your mind in the right place. Try writing a poem about one of your characters. Describe them. Describe his or her world. Tell a lyrical tale of some back story. Whenever I do this it sparks the ideas that were hiding behind that block wall in my mind. And bonus, sometimes your poem can work itself into your book.

2. Not a poet? That’s perfectly fine. Every writer’s mind works a little differently. If you like structure, here’s an idea that might work for you: Get some note cards. On each note card write a sentence or two about each event that takes place in your story. You can rearrange the note cards , or add and remove them as your story develops. This gives you a very flexible path to follow while writing, and gives some order to the chaos of free ideas.

3. free writing. I’m sure you have heard the term before. Write continuously for 5 -10 minutes about anything and everything that comes to mind. Do not correct spelling or grammar. Do not worry about sticking to any topic. Just write. The chaos will not likely yield anything usable for your book/story/piece, however it can get the creativity flowing.

4. A variation of free writing is an exercise where you ask someone to start a sentence for you, and then you continue that sentence into an article, essay, or story. Write for ten minutes. Read it aloud back to the person who gave you the sentence.  Reading it out loud will help you catch anything you could improve on, and this will spark your imagination.

“But Ashmo,” You may ask, “what if I try all of this and nothing works?”

You got me, Reader. I, like you, am still figuring this stuff out. If you figure out something that works better for you, feel free to tell me about it in the comments. Next time I’m stuck it might help me out.


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