What do you do when you hit writer’s block?
Let’s pretend you have this burning urge to write something. You don’t know what. You just know your fingers itch to dance over the keyboard, to feel the rough, woody texture of a well-chewed pencil against your palm, and to smell the crisp coolness of new paper.
You don’t know what you want to write about. You just know if you don’t write something, you’re going to go stir crazy.
So you decide to write something. You get everything set up. Your computer is booted up, your paper and pencil is in your hand, and you’re sitting in a comfortable place. You’re all ready to write, and you settle your fingers over the keyboard to key the first stroke of genius and you wait for the words to come.
And you wait.
And wait some more.
Still waiting . . . .
What’s this? Oh no! You can’t think of anything to write about! What are you doing wrong? You don’t know. You’ve got everything set up. Why aren’t the words coming? Hm. Maybe you need to brainstorm.
Let me tell you. Follow these methods, and you will never fail to find nothing to write about.
Brainstorming for a Novel
- Stare at the computer. Wait for inspiration. You’ll eventually think of something to write about. And while you’re waiting, make sure you take frequent potty and lunch breaks. Oh, and don’t forget to plan for your many birthdays, because you probably won’t think of anything to write until you become old and gray.
- Pick up the phone. Call your significant other. Then your friends. Next your writing partners. Get on Facebook and talk to acquaintances you barely remember becoming friends with. Ask them for their opinion about what you should write about. Take lots of notes. Repeat this step as many times as needed until you think of something to write about. Remember to pay your phone and internet bill.
- Dig out all your story idea notes from all the nooks and crannies you’ve crammed them in. Pull out the boxes from under your bed, the ones full of files from high-school and college. Sort through them. Spend a week sorting them. Throw away half of what you find. Put away the files you decide to keep. Keep out the story ideas you find. Then go to your computer and print out the notes you stored on the computer. Next empty out the desk. Throw away all the old receipts you discover in there. Oops—dig out that one receipt with something scribbled on the back. It could be a gem. Finally go to your bookshelf and pull out the books with pieces of papers crammed in them. You know. The ones you wrote daydreams in. Take Advil and Benadryl for the headache and allergies the dust stirs up.
- Take all these scraps of paper and dump them in a pile on your bed. Make sure all the laundry is put away first and the bed is made before you do this. Look at your pile of paper. Suddenly, it hits you that you need some way to organize all these pieces of paper. So you decide to go to your nearest Staples store and pick up a few supplies. You leave with a hundred dollars of three ring binders, boxes, file folders, tabs, and those clear plastic protector thingys. Oh, and a bunch of plastic recipe card holders, because it occurs to you they are the perfect size to hold the giant stack of index cards and napkins with story ideas written on them. Spend another week organizing your ideas pile by paper size and subject. Take more Advil for your headache.
- Repeat step two and tell them all about the story ideas you found. This time, eat a tub of ice-cream or comfort food of your choice to counter the wave of anxiety you feel over your indecision of what to write. There are just so many things in the pile to write about!
- Look through your stack. Enni Minni Miney Moe . . . . eh, that doesn’t sound good. Let’s try again. Enni Minni Miney Moe . . . . nothing appeals!
- Take out a sheet of paper to start afresh. Brain storm. Write out whatever comes to mind. List the contents of your stack of ideas if you have to. Raid your kid’s school supply paper stash. Crumble and throw away whatever you don’t like. Use up your trashbags. Buy more as needed.
- Brainstorm some more. This time draw out idea webs. You discover this to be rather helpful, but you can’t find any piece of paper big enough, so you decide to tape lots of pieces of paper together. You do so until you have a sheet of paper covering the living room floor. Kneel very gently and, using a crayon, draw out your idea web. Get very excited, because now that you’ve gotten going, you’ve discovered you’ve hit on a great idea. Now you just need to follow it through and finish it. Which you do.
- Now jump up and down. Do a dance. Now, look down. Oh, no! You’ve torn your paper. Hmm. Maybe that wasn’t a good idea. So you go to your daughter’s room and steal her sidewalk chalk. Don’t have a daughter or sidewalk chalk? Buy some at Wal-Mart. The chalk, not the daughter. Now, spend all day drawing out your story idea with sidewalk chalk. Go back into town and buy knee pads. Make changes to your web as inspiration hits you. Have you finished it yet? Good. Now, hurry up and take pictures of it before it rains.
- Take your pictures and put them up on the wall. Stare, think and make notes. Get your outline ready. Talk it over some more on the phone. Repeat step two.
- Having done all this, you feel ready to tackle your New Great American Novel. So now get ready to write. Get a glass of water, reorganize your notes, boot up your computer and get comfortable. Put your fingers over the keyboard and wait for inspiration. Wait for it. Wait for it . . . still waiting . . . . Now, conclude that after all this work your idea sucks and you need a new one. Repeat steps one through eleven until something materializes on the screen by magic.
Congratulations! You have now succeeded in finding nothing to write about. Wasn’t that easy?
Seriously, though. There are a few good ideas in this list. Try them. Just not the sidewalk chalk idea. Too hard on the knees.