If there’s one thing new writers love, it’s articles about getting their reluctant/fearful/who-the-hell knows selves to actually write. Charlotte Rains Dixon, doyenne of writer-advisors, offers her take on how we can all kick ourselves in the pants:
We are writers.
And writers write. No matter what, we write. No matter if the world seems like it is going crazy or if we’re going nuts within, our job is to write. To pour it all out on the page. To be chroniclers and bear witness.
Sometimes this writing, this flinging words at the page, is beyond us. And no matter how hard we want to do it, we just don’t seem to be able to. The words won’t come. We can’t drag ourselves to the page. We sit at the computer and stare off into space.
But here’s the conundrum: when you’re a writer, the only thing that makes you feel better–the only thing that makes you feel like yourself again–is to write. So when you’re not writing, you feel even worse. Oh, it’s a vicious, mean cycle, I tell you. And the only way out is to get started writing again.
So, herewith, I present you with 12 ideas to kick-start your writing. The only thing you have to do is experiment with them and see which one works for you. Promise me you’ll do that next time you’re stalled and not just sit pretending to write when you’re really playing Spider Solitaire. Because one of these ideas will lead you back home again.
1. Switch it up. Write by hand if you’re used to doing drafts on the computer, or vice versa. Every time I get stalled on my novel, I switch to writing in a spiral notebook, et voila, the words flow once again. It’s magical.
2. Choose a random word from the dictionary. Combine it with another word or use it as a one-word prompt. It works great if it’s a word you don’t know because then your mind can go in any direction it wants.
3. Use a sentence box. This takes a bit of advance preparation. Cut apart old manuscripts into sentences and put them in a bag or a box, then draw one when you get stuck and use it as a prompt. You can also do this with words and draw several, then string them together.
4. Pick a prompt. The key with prompts is to pick one, any one, without thought or emotional investment. And then just write like crazy. Don’t try to stick to the topic of the prompt, just write and see where you end up. I’ve got tons of prompts on this page.
5. Use the first line of a favorite poem as a prompt.
6. Use the last line of your WIP as a prompt.
7. Re-read your recent work. If this doesn’t get you back in the flow, go over notes you’ve taken. Look through notebooks you’ve compiled about the work. Maybe something will strike you in a new way.
8. Read a book on writing. Often I don’t finish reading writing books because I get so many ideas from them I go to the page and never get back to the book.
9. Draw a card for guidance. You can use a Tarot deck or one of the gazillion types of guidance decks from various authors. I once went to a psychic who used a regular old deck of cards. Have no idea what she saw in them, but the reading was fantastic!
10. Create a ritual. Light a candle, put on some soothing music, drink a glass of water–whatever works for you.
11. Cut out images to inspire you. I describe this in more details in my free Ebook, Jumpstart Your Book With a Vision Board, which you can download to the right.
12. Doodle to get your mind going. I’m a doodler. I doodle when I listen to lectures or in meetings. It doesn’t mean I’m not paying attention–to the contrary, it keeps me anchored in the moment. Lately I’ve been reading about the positive effects of doodling, and I think it’s beneficial for writing, too.
Those are some of the ideas that work for me. How about you? Do you have any sure-fire kick-starters that you rely on to get you going again? Leave a comment and share.