Recently, I was asked to speak to a group of creative writing students about the writing process. I started our discussion by asking what difficulties they'd encountered during the writing process. After much lively discussion, there were clear patterns in the roadblocks these young writers encountered.
1. Lacking Inspiration
2. Lacking Motivation
3. Lacking Perspiration
I decided to do a blog entry on each of these problems.
I'm supposed to write poems and stories for class, but I can't think of anything new or interesting
There are a lot of ways to combat this problem. We can talk about finding ideas in the world, but I think the first issue is stress.
Stress blocks focus by sucking out a writer's creative energy and leaving nothing but a black space so that focusing on anything but the negative seems impossible. I tell my students that in these situations, the best thing to do is take a break.
People often believe that recreation is a waste of time or a sign of laziness. They're wrong. Recreation should be exactly what the word itself implies-- recreating. Recreate your mind and spirit. Get some exercise. Light a candle. Take a long bath. Meditate, read the Bible, pray or do yoga to get spiritually connected. Go for a walk and take some pictures along the way. Take a nap. Do anything that allows your mind to rest so you can tap into your creative energy.
Here are a few other suggestions:
5. Freewrite. Just sit and write whatever comes out. Don’t edit. Don’t try to develop anything. Just go from pen to paper. And I do recommend a pen unless you touch type quickly without looking at the keyboard. Pencils stick to paper and allows you to erase. Similarly, typing lets you look and edit things too easily. Pens flow... but whatever works for you.
6. Outline: Create a plot outline. Think about the beginning, middle, and end. Consider what you will do for major conflict and how those conflicts will resolve. This can help you to stay on point later on, but don’t hold too fast to it if you get into writing and your characters act out and go against what you originally planned.
7. Character Sketch. Create a character instead of a plot. Think about a character's age, gender, appearance, personality, interests, hobbies, education and occupation, talents, relationships, foibles, flaws, emotions, background, internal and external conflicts, etc. This can help you keep track of characters later on. You can do something like this for your world too. Sketch the setting instead of the characters. There's a great guide to generating a character sketch HERE
8. Research. Look at actual books in the library on any topic. Google random things online and then move beyond Wikipedia. Dig into an issue or idea.