Write a story about this picture in a paragraph or less. Where is this train going? Who are its passengers?
Have you ever run into a writing wall? Have you felt inspired and written non-stop for months on end only to burn out? I know I have, and it’s hard! I find that writing tends to come in waves for me. I shuffle between times where I can’t turn off the faucet of writing ideas in my brain and times where I’m in a creative drought. It’s especially hard to keep going when I’m in one of those times of writing struggle periods—writing is the thing I love to do and the thing that inspires me, but when I’m searching for inspiration and coming up empty-handed, it’s really hard to keep going!
So if you are like me and cycle in and out of writing periods in your life, and could use some inspiration, here are some ideas to get your creative gears turning again:
1. Write in a different genre than you usually do.
Writing in a different genre for fiction writers can be an amazing tool to get you excited about writing again. Every writing genre has its own quirks and stereotypes. Maybe lean into those as you go along—write a romance that follows all the tropes. Come up with the best meet-cute story you can think of and write an outlandishly by the book romance worthy of Harlequin. While you may not end up finishing the story or writing anything actually worthy of publication, it can get you excited about writing your usual genre again and give inspiration.
2. Write in a completely different format than you usually do.
Try writing a journalistic piece, or some experimental poetry. Write about real life rather than the fantasy world you usually write in. Try a more formulaic concept like writing a villanelle or even a simple haiku.
3. Try journaling.
I’ve mentioned this before, but journaling is the only form of writing that I consistently do—it usually doesn’t end up in a creative landslide of ideas for me, but it can definitely help with weeding through the overgrowth that clogs my brain and stops me from wanting to write. I find that even stream-of-consciousness journaling can lead to some unexpected places and new writing ideas!
4. Keep a list of things you want to write about in the droughts and the downpours.
This is my most useful tip—any time you have an idea or a thought that inspires you to write, take a few minutes to actually write them down! This is the same concept as a writer’s notebook that you keep stashed in your back pocket wherever you go, but for me, it’s a Google doc (many pages long) that has ideas for articles, poems, or stories. Keep a list so that when you get stuck and don’t know where to go next, you have a roadmap, of sorts, to get you back on track with writing something.
5. Take your inspiration from pop culture.
One of the easiest ways to get writing inspiration that can help write you out of a funk is to take it from elsewhere! One of my favorite things to do is to take the headlines from a newspaper or the titles of the shows in your Netflix queue/Spotify playlist and use them to write something new. Take the first three titles you see and roll with it. Or take the longest headline you can find and create a story using every word in it. Make a game for yourself to get going, and pretty soon you’ll be back to writing non-stop.
I hope this list helps you if you are going through a writing drought. Remember that it’s okay and normal to have periods of no writing, but that you don’t have to stay there forever. Write yourself out of that slump and get back to doing what you were meant to do.
Choose a famous painting and write the story behind it.
Click below to go on a virtual museum tour and choose your painting!
This week on the blog we are bringing back the exquisite corpse! A little morbid sounding, this is just a writing exercise where you work collaboratively with another person (or more than one person) to add bits and pieces of language together to make a complete poem (or story, or song, or whatever you’d like!) This week, I was joined by Addey to create a poem over text message. So here it is:
Ship of the Sky
By Nicole McConnell and Addey Vaters
The raindrops fall like heavy boulders onto my shoulders.
No matter how hard I tried to harden myself, they soaked me, not rolling off or crumbling.
All the while I stood still in this eye of the storm you created, not moving, not waiving…
Instead waiting for an outcome I knew wasn’t coming.
But I wasn’t alone, the ocean surrounded me.
The crashing waves matched the crushing doubt consuming my soul,
And from that a ship rose out of the water next to me, the moon its sails, the muted sun its hull, the stars it’s deck
It sprung to life out of the nothingness of the sea as if beckoning me aboard…
A string of stars pulled me up onto the deck,
And the churning wind blew into the sails, propelling me into destiny.
Alone in your home on a bright afternoon. The knob of a closed door within the house begins to jiggle. When it stops a loud knock can be heard on the other side…
In six words, tell me the story of this photo.
1. Experience Art
Don’t just go and look at art—feel art. Embrace art. Study art. Art takes hard work, patience, silence, a flood of emotions, or a lack of emotions, lots of time. Realize the passion, the technique, the sacrifice art takes. Writers can learn to walk on a painting, a character from a play can inspire our creation for our own, music expresses more ways to say things in beautiful ways like poetry, and every writer can learn something from art. We are all kind of an artist except we paint with words. Museums, concerts, films, and theaters are all great places to seek inspiration.
2. Evaluate Writing & Self
I don’t think writers do this enough. Write a list of both strengths and weaknesses. Work on these, value yourself as a writer, and you should always be growing as one. Track your progress. Keep track of how much or how little you write every day.
I don’t write every day, I write in large quantities, and then I revise. It is a part of my process. Find a pattern and a process and then track whatever you do as a writer, look back at the month and see what you could do for the next month to help improve or better yourself. Things like increasing word count, or what is the difference from night-to-day? Do you write more in the morning or before bed? Do you not dedicate enough time to writing, where-else can you pull that time from? Give yourself goals to reach as a writer and as a reader.
3. Write a 2000 Word Story and Cut It Down to 300
Revision is the hardest thing the writer must do. Writers either tend to go over the word limit, or under the word limit. This challenges you to have a start and a finish. To consider the power of each word. To pay attention to style, syntax, diction, voice, scenes, actions. Everything the writer wants to include and exclude. Pay more attention to the art of your words and the beauty of the story unfolding in a short frame.
Flash writing is very hard for some writers, and easy for some. But finding the balance between word count and style is a goal to strive for.
4. Write in Another’s World
Use the rules of the world to write in. This will challenge your writing skill, we learn best as writers when we are just starting out to write like someone else. To understand the language the same way the author intended for the audience. Do you like the style? The bare language? The overloaded syntax? The rules of magic? The world building? The stage to set the setting? The introduction to the characters?
I still use this exercise to re-emerge myself in language. To follow the rules of someone else, it helps me get out of my head for a while. It helps me get past writer’s block for my own writing projects.
5. Look at and Revise What You Wrote for the Entire Month
I write everything by long hand and then type it. I date everything I write as well. I hate revision, it takes me a long time. So, I write for two weeks, let’s say about 2-4 chapters, and then I revise the last two weeks of the month. I usually rewrite when I revise, or send my chapters off to beta readers and revise based on their feedback. I rely on my beta readers for different things, and I switch between them for different projects.
Looking at what you wrote at the end of the month, and then revising, will improve time management when writing. It will be less work when you have completed the project and when the time comes for edits and publication. It will help ward off the dreaded manual overhaul, I promise.
Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing.— Benjamin Franklin
6. Find a Club or Go to a Meeting
If you look online for local meetings, usually there are writing groups and clubs around town. Join one or go to a few group meeting/hangouts. Talking with other writers will teach you a lot if you already don’t do this. I have a group of writing friends and we meet once or twice a month We talk about what we are writing, any new techniques what we learned and what to try, or cool books to read. We also beta read for each other and discuss each other’s writings to help evaluate one another.
Other writers will make you a better writer, guaranteed!
7. Start a Blog or Post on Another’s Blog
Blogs are great because they are filled with advice, links, and current topics of the writing world. Blogs do take a lot of time and work, I won’t lie. But if you are a serious writer, and want to learn thing and want to share those things with others—this is the way to do it. Consider starting one if you haven’t already. It will help build your brand as an author and a writer.
Otherwise, follow a blog by signing up for the newsletter. Or if you know someone with a blog ask them to be a guest writer once in a while. A blog can also help exercise a different way of writing. Have fun with it!
My suggestion would be to post at least once a month and with insightful material and topics to keep your followers and readers interested. A blog is meant to be helpful to other writers and readers, to give encouragement, inspiration, and advice. Be truthful. Be generous. Be awesome.
8. Listen to a New Song, Watch a New Movie, New TV Show, etc.
This is all about inspiration, creativity, and imagination. Write a prompt from a song title or from the lyrics. Use a TV show to write in an author’s world different than your own. Or a movie to spark a possible plot twist in a story you are writing, or write a trope used in the movie.
Explore a video game with one of your own characters. Instead of just reading a book for your pleasure, look for literary crafts the author used, and try to implement them into your story. Use anime for imagination. Write a short story based on the theme of the anime, or the daily life of a character, but them doing everything the opposite. Where does the story take you then?
9. Find a New Author or Blog to Read
Constantly expand your horizons as a writer. Maybe even try reading outside your favorite authors and genres, and explore other blogs. They will have tips and that can be unique to add to your skill set. Every genre has a set of techniques, and crossing genres is thrilling for both the story and the reader.
The tools you can add to your writing toolbox will always improve your style and story.
10. Write a to Do List for the Next Month
Some writers are organized and some aren’t. It doesn’t matter if your writing process is organized or messy, keep track of what needs to be done. Once you start writing a list, it may become overwhelming, but call it a master list. Take 3 or 5 things off that list to do every month. It increases productivity as well as positivity. Your brain releases endorphins when you check a box down, and it feels good to accomplish things.
Here is an example of my list for the month:
· Revise chapter one based on critiques
· Finish writing chapter two
· Finish writing chapter three
· Send both two and three to Amber for beta reading
· Write and publish a blog post
This is an article from my blog on HubPages and you can click on the link below to read it or check out my other articles!
So, what is a roller-coaster poem? “Roller Coaster” would be a pretty good title for a poem, story, song, movie, anything (I’m a sucker for short or one-word titles), but that’s not what I’m talking about. You may have read that title and thought to yourself “what the heck?” but I’ll explain.
First of all, I don’t actually like roller coasters. That feeling of rushing down a steep drop where your stomach seems to be floating somewhere in your chest and your palms are cold, yet also sweaty, is not a feeling I enjoy. I avoid riding roller coasters, but I love when a good poem is a roller coaster.
I’ve mentioned a few times before that I love finding something unexpected in a poem. This comes from a poetry class I took in college that completely blew my mind and focused on collaborative poetry. I’m not necessarily one for collaborating on work other than to get feedback and exchange ideas, but this class introduced me to the beauty that is two different trains of thought colliding together (I suppose you could call a poem written this way a train wreck poem, too, if we are going with that metaphor. But for now, I’ll stick to roller coasters).
This class taught me that some of the most amazing literary genius comes from unlikely comparisons. From gangly language put together with lyricism, from opposite words being clashed together, from two divergent roads unexpectedly converging out of the blue.
When this happens, I like to think of it as a roller coaster. When riding along on a roller coaster, there’s always some sort of hint of where you are going. You can, after all, see what’s in front of you. You may have gazed up at the metal monster you were about to hop aboard while in line and memorized some of the curves and drops. Yet, when those curves and drops happen, and you get that feeling of your gut being suspended in air, they’re still unexpected. You can’t prepare for that feeling, even if you have felt it a million times.
I like to think that the best poems are a bit like riding that roller coaster. We’ve all read poems before—we’ve studied sonnets or been shocked by the vivid simplicity of a few lines of free verse. We’ve all probably tried our hand at writing a poem. Some of us would call ourselves poets, and some of us thought “never again” after writing the final line. But what separates poems from the “never again” category and the breathtaking category?
It’s the roller coaster of reading that takes place in a good poem. I love when I’m reading a sonnet, but it’s written in the most un-Shakespeare like language I’ve ever seen. I love when I’m drawn into the voice and lyricism of a poem only to have it change and morph as I go (…almost like two different people wrote it…) I love when I’m riding along with a poem up, up, up and suddenly, the bottom falls out from under me when an unexpected comparison comes to life or the so-called plot suddenly jeers left.
Part of the beauty of poetry is that you can make those sudden drops and roller coaster turns. Throwing in a crazy word that doesn’t make any sense can make your poem come to life in a way that it didn’t in the first line. Not all writing can handle this change, but poetry can. Poetry allows for an obscure and crazy roller coaster ride—the scarcity of language in a poem leaves room for the unexpected.
So, try it yourself! Pretend you are two different people writing a poem. Add in a drop here and a curve there. Take your reader on a wild ride—and send us your roller coaster poem once you’re done experimenting!
Cover image courtesy of PixaBay.
Today we have a fun writing prompt to get your brain working on this frosty Friday!
Recall the moment you came face to face with an ornery moose.
Write a short short piece about this tree. You can do so using any method you desire. Perhaps it’s a poem bringing it to life? Maybe it is an origin story? Or perhaps it is the focus of a journey? Whatever the case may be, tell me a story.