Don’t throw rocks at me for that title. I know I said I’m not big on the NaNoWriMo 50,000-word race, but I also understand that there are a ton of people who find it helpful and are hot on the keyboard this month. Whether it gets you to actually sit down and write or it pushes you to think outside of the box and write something different, plenty of people enjoy the experience. I’m not here to say any method of writing is wrong; I just know what works for me! With that in mind, those of you participating this year might get stuck. Maybe you’ll read this six months from now when you’ve hit a brick wall. Who knows? Either way, there’s no reason to sit staring at the blinking cursor on your screen. Let’s try to kick that muse into high gear!
Merriam-webster defines muse as:
- Any of the nine sister goddesses in Greek mythology presiding over song and poetry and the arts and sciences
- A source of inspiration; especially: a guiding genius
Take a few moments to reflect on your writing process. What is your muse?
I find inspiration in all sorts of things: what I read, what I watch, people I observe, conversations I have, news, history, science, nature…the world around me! The world is an amazing place that can trigger ideas at any moment. For this reason, my phone is my mobile notebook. Anytime I’m struck, I take note. I dictate a note to my phone when I’m in the car. I type out a few sentences, a word, a description, or a piece of dialogue standing in line at the store. You can find inspiration everywhere, but the fact is that sometimes it’s simply just hard to get started writing. It’s like your mind goes blank when it’s time to get it all down and set those ideas free. So how do we fight that? By writing, of course!
The next time you’re fighting that dreaded writer’s block, try these 9 writing activities:
- Write a set of 10 haiku poems. These may seem easy, but they’ll get you thinking!
- Try my 30 First Lines Challenge by writing the first line of a story for 30 days.
- Be a set designer. Write about a room from a character’s point of view that’s not the owner of the room. Show things that might tell something important about the character. It’s great to do this about characters of a work you’re stuck on!
- Write a poem or short story that describes the aftermath of a significant event in the life of a couple or family.
- Use a simple tool to generate a writing prompt, including first lines, general subjects, or traditional writing prompts.
- Pick a random YouTube video and write a story or poem inspired by it. You could get the goat dressed as Elsa or Charlie Bit My Finger.
- We all love funny memes. Search for random memes and pick something funny or interesting to write about.
- Use a random quote. Grab a book from your shelf, open to a random page, and blindly point at a line. You can also use a random quote generator. Use it to start or end a short story.
- Go to Pinterest! Search for writing prompts and pictures, then use them for inspiration.
With the availability of the internet, there are so many different ways to find things to write about for NaNoWriMo and beyond. Tons of funny and inspiring things flow through our Facebook or Twitter feeds every day, and there’s no reason we shouldn’t take advantage of that to find something to punch through that wall! I even suggest gathering these things for when you need inspiration or a push to write again. Create a private Pinterest board or keep a bookmarks folder of things you come across that might be useful later. Based on my personal experience, I believe the biggest reason we hit writer’s block is because we aren’t in the mood to write. The best way to combat that is to take a break and write about something new or unusual. Don’t be afraid to reboot! Your writing will prove even stronger for it.