I’m in a bit of an odd situation at the moment. Usually, when I write a story I’ve got ideas for at least one more brewing in the back of my mind. However, for the first time in a long time I’ve hit a wall: I’ve currently got no new ideas to play with. I crave new ideas more than I do coffee. I’ve read through the odd scribbles that I’ve made from time to time, but nothing is inspiring me to create my next story.
Previously, a lack of ideas has led me to procrastinate; this, in turn, has resulted in me not writing for a few weeks. The only remedy that has helped me to cope with this is that I know eventually I will get ideas and I will write again – but who knows how long that could be?
All the books I’ve purchased on creative writing tell me that putting in the hours is so important in order to get better. How can I improve when I leave weeks between writing stories? Professional sports men and women train every day when they are not involved competitively. The same approach is important to the writer.
I’ve found writing on WordPress is good for a number of reasons: blogging can be used as a way to reflect and to improve writing skills; by writing here frequently a sense of achievement can be gained once an article is published – an article that other people will hopefully enjoy and benefit from as well; by publishing a blog that is full of promises about what one hopes to achieve the writer is attempting to gain extra motivation to fulfill these tasks by declaring them publicly.
There’s also a few other ways I’ve been working through this lean spell:
1) Polishing off old stories that, for reasons I can’t remember, I stored away. Going back to these after a while can give them fresh life.
2) Free flow writing – sitting down for 20 minutes and just writing whatever comes into my mind. When I read back over it there is a lot of nonsense, but some ideas look like they may fit into my next project.
3) Dictionary search – finding random words in the dictionary and writing a couple of sentences around them. This may or may not lead to ideas for another story, but, at the very least, it improves word power.
4) Describing what I see – whether an object or a scene, it’s always useful to have different ways to describe the same thing.
There’s countless other exercises in creative writing books too.
As I’ve said, I’ve found that the key is to keep practising. This creates a sense of discipline, so that when an idea hits the transition to start writing a story is more smooth than if I had done nothing for a few weeks.