It has happened to us all. We have set aside a block of time to do nothing except write. All distractions are banned: no cell phone, no kids knocking on the door, no television. Maybe a pot of coffee is brewed or another favorite drink prepared. We go into the space we have designated as our writing spot and open the clean page, either in our favorite notebook or word processor. Then, we sit…staring. We write a sentence or maybe two, then shake our heads and delete them. Soon, we find ourselves surfing the internet, scrolling through our newsfeed, or tweeting about our problem. Maybe this has described you at this very moment. Well, good news! I have a few ideas to overcome this problem!
First, congratulate yourself on actually blocking off time to write! That sometimes is the hardest part of writing. Often, we take for granted the flexibility that being a writer offers; however, we need to make sure we set aside the time and make it an important part of life. Violinists are sure to practice daily, painters paint regularly, so as writers we must also practice our craft diligently.
Now, take a deep breath. Writing topics are all around you. Are you logged on to social media? Pull a tweet or a status update and use that as a prompt. Sometimes life is definitely more interesting than what even the most brilliant fiction writer can come up with. Googling? Why not search for something that interests you and use that to start a line or two? Do some research; find out what made Chicago interesting in 1912 and write about it. Make your main character a child seeing the Empire State building for the first time. Oh, you haven’t been there? Google it! Browse Craigslist, find an interesting listing on there and envision the transaction. Why is the person selling their prized comic collection or looking to buy a baby goat?
Those ideas sound great, but what if you still need more? Maybe your friends aren’t quite as addicted to social media as mine or nothing pops into your mind to research. Okay, Google is still your friend! Google writing prompts and you get numerous interesting results. Pick a few that strike your fancy, set a timer for ten minutes, and write! If at the end of the time, you still want to write on that topic…continue, but if you are done, move to the next.
Maybe after you try all these suggestions, you have still only written a paragraph or a page and maybe what you have written is not anything you would consider a good piece. That is acceptable! Not every session we sit and write will yield a chapter or a complete poem. The idea is to practice our craft. One can only improve by working at something. So, pick up your pen or open a new page, and do what you do best…WRITE!