When talking about fictional writing, it is important to realize every writer has a different method. That’s because no two people are the same, and neither are two writers.
Some are planners, with a full outline, pictures of characters, and a detailed setting before they start writing.
Others prefer a little bit of inspiration and a fresh page to start, and to ‘fly by the seat of their pants’ in a way.
And most are somewhere in the middle. That is where I reside (though I lean more toward planning).
Everyone does things differently, and there are different ways to gain inspiration. But there are a couple road blocks, or writer’s blocks, that get in the way of any writer’s work.
As said before, everyone gains inspiration differently. Not just in what inspiration they gain, but the the frequency and timing of it as well.
What I want to look closer at is timing. We don’t constantly get inspiration from places (or at least don’t realize it), and we don’t get inspiration in the exact same times every day, or at the same times as everyone else. Most of the time, there are two problems that writers face with the times they do or don’t get inspiration.
For some people, the difficulty is producing ideas when it’s the correct time to write. They sit down at their desk and nothing comes to them, whether it is a work-in-progress or a fresh page.
There’s always that moment when you sit down to write and stare at the page for a half hour with nothing coming to mind. I’ve been there.
I think there are more methods for generating inspiration than having to save an idea for later. That’s because each time someone has this problem, the cause is slightly different.
There are a number of reasons why we get that writer’s block.
Sometimes the place we write at might be the problem. I suggest going to a different place sometimes. Having a writing place is good, but sometimes it’ll be stunting your creativity. Have a few places to go to. I have study rooms at my school, a café, and my apartment. But, I could also go to the park by the lake if it’s warm out. Try to be flexible. And, if you go to a new place, there’s plenty of inspiration around since you aren’t used to your environment.
There are plenty of places with ambient sound, or quiet.
Another thing that’ll be problematic is your materials for writing. Do you usually use a computer? Or a notebook and pencil? If you’re having trouble generating ideas, I suggest trying a different method.
This also goes with how you think. Meaning, how you go over ideas. If you think in your head, but that’s not working, then try writing your thoughts. I find a big whiteboard is more helpful than writing ideas on the computer or paper.
And then there are moments when you are in a new place, trying a new writing or thinking method, but there’s nothing. You’ve tried the above, but it’s not working.
Well then, I have a suggestion. Just for the day, you could work on a different writing project. Even if it’s a tiny story based off a writing prompt. Sometimes our brains get tired and stressed from the current long project. Working on a less stressful and more fun piece can help loosen the creative cords of your other project. Or, maybe you can take a break from writing for the day. It’s never a bad thing to step back and breathe when you need to.
For other people, they get ideas at the wrong times. This is when they need to be doing something else, but get a really good idea, don’t have time to write it out, and don’t want to forget it. Examples of this are during work, class, or when the writer is trying to sleep.
I’ve had to deal with getting ideas at the wrong times over and over and over again.
The times it’s happened the most for me is when I’m trying to fall asleep, but my mind is hyperactive. But, a close second is when I’m in class and need to pay attention.
When this happens, what are we supposed to do?
Stop and write everything in the idea down?
Repeat it mentally and hope it can be remembered later?
Discard it, even if it is a good idea?
I have tried each of these, and I don’t think they are effective.
When I ignore what I need to do in the moment to write the idea in length, I miss out on notes, or I’ll get carried away and not get enough sleep.
If I repeat it mentally, I don’t have the mental capacity or multitasking ability for much else out of fear of losing the idea. And, I forget it in the morning regardless.
I rarely want to discard ideas, especially if I could use it later. But I sometimes have to if I don’t have time for anything else. Sometimes they come back, but it isn’t reliable enough to use as a preferred method.
So… if these don’t work, what does?
What I have found helpful is if I summarize.
Don’t write every little detail, just what you need to jog your memory later.
Leave a notepad by your bed or in your bag. Or keep your phone with you at all times.
Then take a breath and let it go mentally. It is easier to focus or sleep when the idea is stored elsewhere.
Also, I’ve noticed that if I write it down, I’ll remember it without looking at where I wrote it down. Because not only to I remember the idea, but the fact I wrote it down in the first place.
I’m sure there are other ways to remember, but this is the method that helps me the most.
So, those are my thoughts on these two big problems. When Tapping for Inspiration, or Withholding ideas for later, everyone has different ways that help them.
Let me know in the comments if any of these help you! Or, if you have something you do that you’ve found successful for you. I’d love to hear your ideas!
~Created to Write