No matter where you're looking for tips or tricks, everyone will tell you that brainstorming is THE way to overcome writer's block. Now lots of people don't like to sit down with a pen and paper and just start writing down anything that pops into their heads. But if you do, you just might be surprised by what you discover! For instance, I started this article with only a few ideas in mind. After I started brainstorming, I made it all the way to 13 (that's right - these are all from my own brain). To prove how it works, I actually took a picture of the brainstorming sheet I used. Take a look:
2. Writing Prompts
I often look at writing prompts, but to be honest, I've never written anything based off one. That leads me to believe that this suggestion may not work for everyone. It's lack of working for me doesn't change the fact that many people believe writing prompts are a great way to inspire original ideas. So, if you want to give it a try, click the link below and head over to my favorite generator.
3. Photo Prompts
I had actually never thought of this one until I read a list of prompts from Ginny Wiehardt. This activity involves taking a random photo and writing about it. The exercise can go many different ways. You can describe the photo in basic or vivid detail or you can describe any feelings the photo might evoke. You can also use the photo as base for something else entirely. The options are only as limited as your mind (which should be waking up now).
Word games are a great way to inspire thought, especially when you're stuck on nothing. I'm going to list 3 different word games that I find useful.
For this game, the idea is to write down a random verb and then write down every possible synonom you can think of for that verb. In doing this, you'll engage your brain in a fun activity, while also opening your eyes to different ways of expressing yourself. If you get stuck, just move on to another word. No peaking at the thesaurus!
Name a random object, it can be the first thing you see. Now, write down every possible word that comes to mind. For example: Clock - time, ticking, distance, face, hand, watch, ending. That was one I came up with when I was trying to go to bed the other night. Since the chain of words kept going, I thought it might be useful as a regular activity.
6. Only 3
Anyone who has followed this blog for a long time knows I'm quite fond of the "only 3" game. I play this word game by writing with the "suggestive text" feature of my smart phone. The idea is that I only use one of the 3 words suggested - nothing else. I do occasionally backspace and choose a different word based on the suggestions. Of course, if you end up writing your own thing and forgetting about the game altogether, you've pretty much won! If you do use this trick, please share your writing!
That's it for word games. If you want to share something that has worked for you, make sure to leave a comment below! In the meatime, let's take a look at spinning ideas.
7. Lyrical Genuis
I haven't used this particular exercise in a long time, but I found it helpful when I was coming out of my 2012 writer's block. In fact, without this particular exercise, I don't know if I would have got back into writing poetry. For this one, I take my favorite lyrics from my favorite songs and print them out. I cut out each sentence into a line. Then, I shuffle all the lines together and draw at random. I use the already-written lyrics to create a new masterpiece. Of course, this is just an activity to inspire your own original thoughts. If you want to try this, but are drawing a blank for songs, click here to be taken to the random lyric generator.
8. Music Videos
I wrote a short story called "Wake Up Call" by using the baseline of the music video of the same name by Maroon 5. All you have to do is watch a music video you love and write it out as a story or poem. This exercise is helpful for those who are more visual than imaginative. You can do it with any music video too, which makes it extremely versitle.
Take existing content, like a short story by some random person online, and rewrite it. Put the words in your own voice and change whatever you would change if you had written the story. You can do this with poetry, prose, etc. It's technically content spinning, but it'll get your brain busy! I would only recommend this if you are absolutely stuck, like staring at a white wall in your own mind levels of stuck. If you do use this exercise, I advise not sharing the results. You don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.
10. Exchange Ideas
There's no secret that almost every writer gets stuck once in a while. In fact, any creative person has the potential to be stuck with no ideas. Often, this is the result of too many ideas fighting for attention. The result is a block of the well that we've all grown reliant one. This exercise is especially useful if you have friends who enjoy writing or are a member of any writer's guild. All you do is exchange an idea or a rough outline of something you've written. They do the same. You do what you can with it and share the end results. You never know what may come as a result!
The best way you overcome write's block is write, right?
I am guilty of ignoring my journal for weeks at a time. In fact, the last time I picked it up, I think it was 6 months ago, give or take. But, I can say that when I was regularly using my journal, I was regularly writing new content. That's not a coincidence. I just don't like touching on feelings and stuff, so I personally avoid it. Of course, you don't have to journal about deep thoughts either. You can write about your day, what you did, etc. It can be lighthearted and basic. I just can't take my own advice.
12. Write (Freewriting)
I know. How dare I include that on a list of ways to overcome writer's block. But you know what? Do it. Start with a word, any word. Follow it up with a few more. It's going to be total garbage or utter brilliance (there's no inbetween). But the more you write, even if it makes no sense, the more you're going to feel like writing and the better you'll get. You'll also be building a habit.
Well, the last suggestion is here and you're going to ABSOLUTELY love it:
13. Keep Your Brain Busy
I don't mean overthink everything. That would be counterproductive. I'm suggesting engaging activities that will keep your brain occupied, like word searchs and crossword puzzles. In fact, any puzzle can really boost your brain activity and wake up the muse that's sleeping somewhere in your head.
Saturday, August 13, 2022
Sunday, July 31, 2022
I had a dream about you again last night. It seems like you've occupied my mind for most of my life. It's like, just when I think I've kicked the thought of you, you're back in my head. It's always the same too. We're never lovers, but we learn to be friends. I wish that's the way it really was. I think my subconscious knows that. Those hopes and dreams are just too much to handle in the face of reality. You'd never give me the chance to bey our friend. I understand why. It's crazy that some girl from grade school is popping into your DMs like you spoke to her yesterday. But you didn't. You wouldn't. It was so long ago, it makes no sense. She's too much to handle. And there's no pay-out. What's the benefit of being my friend? Well, I'm kind, and I'm patient. I prefer listening to talking, though I always have decent advice. I can also just be a shoulder to metaphorically cry on. I can be supportive. Plus, I think I'm really funny and it's always worth a laugh. Sometimes, at my own expense. I'm willing to throw myself under the bus, poor phrasing, in order to help my friends out or make them feel better. I'm really devoted. And maybe that can be scary, sure. But I'm passionate. That's not a bad thing. You might know that if you gave me half a chance. But not in this life, I know. In another life, you and I were the best of friends. In this reality, I'm just a pathetic schoolgirl trying to get my crush to notice me. Only, I'm an adult. And we stopping talking 20 years ago. It's insane that you still cross my mind. I know that. I always wonder why. What is it about you that I can't let go of? I mean, I'm not even reliving the "good ole' times". I don't think about us in the time we actually existed. I think about us in the present. You and me, as we are, only friends instead of strangers. I help you out with relationship advice. I babysit for you when you're going on date night. I'm there for you. You're there for me. We co-exist in perfect harmony. And that's what I want. That's the dream, and almost every night it finds its way into my slumber. I want to let go, I do. I know how insane it all is. But there's just something about you. Maybe it's the sparkle in those eyes, or the way my heart melts for your smile... I don't know. I'm prone to over-romanticizing everything. That's the hopeful side of me that thinks everything is going to work out in the end. The rest of me knows I'm just digging up graves to find skeletons of people who no longer exist. No one stays the same, even if they try. We all change. I grew up, but couldn't let go. Oh well. I'm trying, and I'm hoping that writing will help. Though, if the past is any indication, it's just going to make you more prominent in my mind.
Wednesday, June 16, 2021
I could hear the sound outside the window. This ticking. It would stop whenever I looked outside, then start again as soon as I climbed into my bed. Like any sane person would, I assumed it must be the bed making the sound. It must have been a spring or something. It had to be. But it wasn't. Night after night I'd hear the ticking outside my window. I had almost become used to the sound. When it started happening at my girlfriend's, I started to feel concern. The first night I spent at her place was normal. I think. We had a few drinks before making our way to bed. I think I was a little drunk. I passed out and slept like the dead. It was the first night in a long time that I felt I could relax. The second time I spent the night, I heard it. The very same ticking from outside my window was now outside of hers. I tried to wake her up. Every time I did, the noise would stop. I persisted, rambled even. She eventually stopped listening to me and went to sleep. The ticking started immediately. Now I knew it wasn't a coil or a spring. It wasn't my bed. It wasn't even my house. Someone was following me around. Why someone would put so much effort into disrupting anyone was beyond me. And how they always managed to evade being seen was a mystery. I tried to be quiet. I tried to stay away from the windows. I made sure there was no way they would know I was coming. Yet, I was never able to catch even a glimpse of anyone. If I didn't know better, I would say the culprit was invisible. Like a ghost or something...
Friday, May 7, 2021
He has the most beautiful eyes. Entrancing, even. In them, I can see the world. The past, the present, the future. I see every possible universe. It happens in flashes, like the big bang. Starting from there, too. I see different realities, like the way things could have been. If only circumstances had been different. Or if I had been different. That doesn't matter though. I don't get caught up on the "what ifs" of the past. Those flashes are just passing thoughts. My mind is focused on the present.
Tuesday, April 13, 2021
Sunday, January 10, 2021
[from the Vault]
Then I forgot to water the garden. I pulled a flower from the bed to keep as a memory. And suddenly, that's all you were to me. The rest of the flowers wilted as you refused to water them any longer. The ground dried up as we walked into tomorrow. Apart and broken hearted.
Today, that garden is a barren land, like nothing could grow from the soil of our poisoned love. Of course, I've still got that first flower. Pressed and sealed. Though long dead, still beautiful in its memory. Like you. Long gone, but not forgotten. I've pressed a piece of you too. I've hung that piece up in the museum of my heart. Today, I am still holding on to these parts I've loved.
Tomorrow, well, I don't know. I might take down that frame and make room for something new. I might dig up the soil so something else might grow. I might move on. I might let you go. But maybe, I won't need to. Maybe, I don't want to ever put what we've become to rest.
Today, I'll plant that piece of you into the long deserted soil. Tomorrow, we'll see what grows from the memory.
Thursday, December 24, 2020
I called Jason when I got to town. He said we needed to talk. I wouldn't have called if part of me didn't want to see him, so I agreed. We met at a quiet cafe. The kind with the small tables and high, almost backless, chairs. I asked what he had been up to, even though I already knew. He asked if I went to New York for school, but I told him I had given up that dream. He made a comment about "our" dreams, and how different they turned out to be. I bitterly replied that I had given up dreaming when he gave up on us. We had both been quiet when he reached for my hand. As he did, I felt that rush. That spark. The same electricity I had felt every time his skin touched mine. We didn't bother with words from there. We went back to his parents. Thunderstorms made less sound. Tornadoes did less damage. The time between this encounter and our last didn't matter in the moments our skin was together. It didn't matter who had been me on nights before. Or who had been him.
In the morning, we went for coffee. We went to the same diner we had our first date at. He sat across the table from me, and traced his finger around the coffee stain left from the person before him. There was a look in his eyes that said "don't take this personally" and a glaze over them from conversations like this with girls who were me on mornings after. He was rehearsed. An Emmy award winner. At least sitting across from anyone else. But he was dumbstruck sitting in front of me. He couldn't bring himself to recite those lines. They had no meaning to me anyway. I didn't need the words, I read his body language, and he made his intentions clear. He looked down at the coffee stain, letting out a sigh. He said he never wanted it to be like this. Followed by silence. It's funny how conversation dies right after a bombshell comment. But isn't that why they call it a bombshell in the first place? I didn't believe a word he said, but I couldn't stop listening to his silence. We were completely disconnected now, I think. There was too much distance traveled. Too much mileage.
I thought about the first time we sat in this diner. How I was hooked to his tragedy, and how he brought out my own. If only every disaster looked this sweet. We'd all crave tragedy more than we already do. Life is tragic, but we keep on living. Man kinds real addiction is death and we're all in a rat race to the finish line. It's in the fine print in the contract of life. God damned that fine print. I was too drunk to read it, yet some how managed to sign it. It's the same with love. The only sure thing in life, is the death of everything at some point. And sitting in that diner, it became clear that everything we had ever been to each other was dead and gone. He confirmed this when the waitress walked over to us and handed him her number. He shoved it down to the bottom of his pocket with all the others. A graveyard of past and future conquests. This was everything he had become. This was what the world did to him. Or maybe, it was me. But personal responsibility had something to do with it, and it became clear, he was set on self destruction.
He may have had a place of residence, but in every way, he was homeless. Even his body couldn't house his mind now. He was a drifter, and the worst kind. He moved from bed to bed, body to body, heart to heart. All while keeping his locked up. I could see it in his eyes now. The boy I once knew, once looked at the stars and daydreamed with, was long gone. There was a hollow shell of a human being in his place. He relapsed on being a human in only fragments. The night before, wrapped in each others arms, wearing each others bodies, it was like nothing had ever changed. Now sitting across the table from him it was apparent that everything had. But I wasn't there for a romantic resurrection. I wasn't there for false hope. I was there for the same reason he was. And he knew it.
I broke the silence with his favorite line "might as well drop the bomb, because it ain't love that brought us here". He looked up, cocking a smile. He didn't have to say anything else. Neither did I.