Sometimes that old goblin just gets to us -- we can call it hitting the wall, or writers' block, or just losing inspiration. What can you do when that happens? There is always the easy way out: you can give your writing a rest for a while and come back to it later. The only successful way to do that, though, is to give yourself a deadline. Give yourself a day or two, a couple of days, or even a week, but you have to be ready to get yourself back in your chair at the end of that time period and be ready to go again. If you don't, you face the possibility of days turning to weeks, into months and nothing is getting done. What can you do to get yourself re-inspired or re-energized?
Here are some tips that can help:
1. Take a trip. I only suggest that at the beginning because I just returned from a four-day journey that not only re-energized my thinking, but also provided some wonderful and stimulating ideas for a romance I am writing that is set in the 1880's on the grassy plains of southern Colorado. At my sister's suggestion we ended up driving along a dirt road through those exact grassy plains. In addition to returning to town with lots of bug bites, I also came away with some wonderfully inspiring ideas for what a character might feel on a summer morning. The trip also had me thinking up new scenes. Now we can't always take a trip to the exact story location, but we can do other things.
2. Try fresh research. We may all do research before we start writing a story, but sometimes you have to go back and re-study some of those old notes. Remember why you were putting things a certain way, or look for small tidbits of research that you might have overlooked in your writing and use them. That refreshing of your ideas may spark new thoughts and new directions in your story. If you are writing historical pieces, research can always play as major role. The problem is not to let it get so overwhelming that all you do is research. Sooner or later you need to stop and write that story.
3. Try a new approach. I usually write off the top of my head without planning what will happen next, but sometimes that can also slow me down. Sometimes it pays to take those few extra moments or hours to sit down with your plot and characters and think about what you want to happen next. Are there scenes that you realize you will need to get to a certain point? Try writing them, or at least try a couple of different story or plot ideas and see if might help get you past this current hung up point.
4. Try writing in a different genre for a short story or a non-fiction piece of writing. Much as I love writing romance and mystery or suspense I also once enjoyed reading science fiction and horror. A month ago I went to a session on writing horror and found us studying so many of the masters I had once read. It gave me new ideas for possible short stories and I came home and started a science fiction work. It got me back to writing and that was what was important. I may turn the story into a short serialized piece. I have also been working on several non-fiction biographical pieces that help keep the writing flowing.
5. Try writing sprints. This is something that I have heard work for so many people. This week I plan to take part in several write-ins with different groups of authors and I may try some writing sprints as we work on our projects. I want to see how successful that might be. Again, the key is trying something new and something that also helps to keep writing.
Don't let the summer get away from you! We are hitting peak vacation time, but you can also use it to re-energize your writing so that when you come back to doing it full time or part time, you will be ready to go!
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