I have the amazing privilege of co-hosting this month's IWSG along with CD Coffelt, Isis Rushdan, and Michelle Wallace!
Today I'd like to offer some ideas for when you're feeling stuck, out of ideas, in a slump, and just plain discouraged. These have worked for me, and maybe they will for you, too. We all have different writing processes, but maybe at least one of these “tricks” will fit your style.
As writers, we've all probably heard the “just write” admonishment. I firmly believe in it. Writing is a solitary endeavor, and it takes discipline. It takes constant practice. It takes doing it even when you just don't wanna. But how do you "just write" when it ain't flowing?
I just open up a word document and start typing. Literally. Anything that pops into my head. I jot down what I'm thinking, what I'm worried about, what I did the day before, and most of the time, something clicks and I have an idea for a post, and I'm off.
My recent post "The Fog Stole My Feet" happened that way. I was sitting there, idea-less, and I wrote, "We had weird fog this morning", and that led to Carl Sandberg's line “the fog comes on little cat feet”, which I'd memorized in high school, and I realized that I couldn't even see my feet, so off I went.
On the days that a post doesn't come to me with this method, I turn back the clock. I start typing out childhood memories, identifying them by a phrase, and most of the time something will spark and I'll write a post about young Tina and her weird antics, or accidents, or invented games.
When I'm really stuck I read. I have the luxury of a Kindle, a LOT of writer friends, and an impossibly long to-be-read list. I usually have three books going at a time, and I'll “pick one of them up” and read a few pages. Sometimes what I read makes a light-bulb go off and I have a post idea. If that doesn't work, at least I'm procrastinating in a useful way ;-)
Some days, a post just doesn't come with any of these methods, so I turn to my kids. “What should I write about today?” They usually offer some pretty weird ideas, and sometimes nothing useful, but again, a spark can come from that. However, a lot of their suggestions are about embarrassing incidents, and so that's where my series of unfortunate event posts have come from: desperation and the encouragement of my teens.
Being stuck for a post is different from being stuck in your WIP, though, but I'll save those suggestions for next month. I hope at least one of these ideas might help you next time you need a little boost for your blog.
Alex “Ninja Captain” Cavanaugh is our leader for this wonderful, supportive group. Don't forget we even have our own website now. Be sure to check it out if you haven't already, and "like" our facebook page, too. I'm so impressed with what these talented folks are doing to promote this group! Encouragement month long is now just a click away!