Friday, July 29, 2011

Ideas for Getting Ideas: How to Beat Writer's Block

Tah-dah! Look at that bright, shiny light bulb, right above my head!

That, my friends, is an idea. They are very rare, the good ones, at least, so treat it carefully or you might scratch the glass.

Though they don’t always show up in the form of a light bulb (in fact, I’ve never had that happen), ideas come. Yeah, try telling that to the author with five deadlines looming above their head while they’re staring at a blank screen.

They probably won’t believe you.

So where do these illusive “ideas” come from? What mind power is it that doles them out? Who’s to say when I can have my idea and how I can get it?

When those ideas aren’t coming, and your brain feels like it just might explode, calm down. There are ways of getting around this problem, commonly referred to as Writer’s Block. Dun, dun, dun!

It Happens

Writer’s block is not a disease. It’s not contagious, and it doesn’t involve hives, hallucinations, fevers, or sweats. I think we can all be grateful for that, because the truth of the matter is that writer’s block happens to all of us. We’re all going to suffer from a lack of ideas at some point or multiple in our careers.

As writers, we work on a lot of varied projects. Sometimes, you just might not know a lot about the subject. It’s impossible to write a quality piece without knowing your topic in and out. Writer’s block can strike when you haven’t done your homework.

Even if you have, everyone has bad days. It seems that these are the days that the scary, blank-mind illness strikes hardest. You’ve had it rough, your head’s killing you, and you’ve been staring at the screen for three hours now… Yep, you’ve been hit. It happens to the best of us.

So, What Can You Do?

We all need help getting inspiration! When you’re in a stump and the drool’s coming down your chin, wipe off that blank look and check out these ideas for getting ideas:

Take a Break: As counterproductive as it may appear at first glance, taking a break is one of the best things you can do to free up that ole’ brain and unblock your writing muses. Do something you love, laugh, call up an old friend, then come back and get typing.

Write Something Fun: Take a whirl at penning a piece that’s totally unrelated to what you’re worried about. Write a silly poem, a description of something you see in your workspace, or just jot down random thoughts. You never know what treasures may pop out, and writing something fun will relieve that jam up of stress from your mind.

Pretend That It’s Opposite Day: Whatever it is that you’re working on, either write down or think through what would happen if you went the opposite direction of what you’re planning. Are you trying to work out the scene in your novel where your character tells the girl of his dreams his feelings and she falls madly in love, but you just can’t get it right? Ask yourself what would happen if she rejected him. This exercise can be a huge diversion from whatever problem you were trying to get through before, giving your mind a rest, and you just may find that little spicy idea for your writing that you were looking for.

Keep A Writing Journal: And browse through it for help. Write down random thoughts or feelings that you experienced throughout the day. Share a story from your life, putting it into words. Practice dialogue between characters you’re trying to develop. It doesn’t matter what you write, but write everyday. (I have a book of writing prompts that I love to flip through when I’m stuck in my writing journal.) When you need ideas, look through your old writing.

Read Other’s Work from Your Niche: Turning to other authors for ideas is always, well, a great idea. No, you’re not allowed to steal their work, but you can look through it for inspiration. Maybe you’re writing a blog post and you’re stuck deep in the mud. Look through other blogs that cover a similar topic as yours. It’s likely that you’ll uncover gold! Spin these ideas into a combination of your own, and writer’s block, be gone!

Have Someone Else Read Your Work: Get a good friend, spouse, or family member to look over the piece you’re stuck on. A fresh perspective can do wonders for getting ideas. You can ask them what they think is missing, and pay attention to their answers.

Old or young, rookie novice or weathered author, writer’s block is a curse that afflicts us all. Light bulbs don’t usually pop up above our heads and give us inspiration we need, contrary to cartoon belief, so we’ve got to turn to other methods for ideas. Using the above tips can help, so go on, give it a go, and watch the ideas flow.

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