by Christopher Slater
Nothing is more devastating than running into a complete roadblock when you are trying to think of good ideas for a story or book. Humans are storytellers. We love to spin a yarn about all kinds of things. Sometimes we want to be scared, other times amazed, and still others we like to be reminded. Some of us, though, like to do the scaring, the amazing, and the reminding.
For some of us, it is almost like a high when you are sure your audience is reacting to your words. It is also an unbelievable low whenever you can’t find the words to say. I’m probably not the best person to be creating this short list of place to look for ideas since I’m not a best-selling writer or anything, but I firmly believe that all of these things can work, and work well.
#1 Read, read, and then read some more!
Never steal another writer’s ideas. There is nothing more low among writers than the pilfering of another’s thoughts. However, reading someone else’s work provides you with some great new perspectives. The style of writing may help push you towards a new approach. One of the characters may mention something that you are unfamiliar with, and in researching what it is, you may find something that spurs a storyline.
You may find a concept that you think needs more exploration. You may even come up with a completely spontaneous storyline that you had never considered before and may never have thought of if you hadn’t taken your mind off of things by writing. In the end, there is very little downside to this suggestion.
#2 Talk, listen, then talk some more!
As I have already mentioned, people are storytellers. We spend all day telling stories of some kind or another. That is the nature of being social animals. If you can’t seem to find a story to tell in your writing, it is time to get around some other people and start telling stories.
Once again, I am not suggesting that you try to steal some of their ideas. You are looking for inspiration. So many things in our regular interactions can inspire. Just remember that as often as you speak, you also need to listen. Get out of your isolation and interact.
#3 Open your eyes, you fool!
Look at the world around you. I mean really look. There are things that happen all of the time, right under our noses, that are remarkable. Sometimes you don’t even need to move in order to see them. Have you ever watched a speck of dust floating in the air? Have you thought about where it came from and how it came to be in the middle of your living room? How does it get where it is going? What has it seen? Is it watching you, too?
Just think, you may have found the inspiration for a unique story all because you forgot to buy Pledge at the store. Just think of what you might find if you venture out of your house!
#4 Turn up the radio!
Very little spurs emotions among humans more than music. Why else would the various MP3 players be so remarkably successful? Why not sit down, turn off the computer, and just listen to the radio for a while. Let the songs take you away from the stress of writer’s block and everyday life for a few minutes.
Come back to your writing quest refreshed, in a different mood, and with a different outlook. Even if you are like me and usually listen to NPR, the stories you hear can really get your mind working and put you back on track to starting, continuing, or completing that story you are looking for.
#5 Write something!
“If I could write something, Slater, I wouldn’t be reading this stupid list now would I?” I said something, as in “anything.” Write a limerick. Write a short story. Write a blog. Change your Facebook status. Write a chronological list of your day’s activities. Whatever it is, just write it down! If you crumble it up and throw it away afterwards, that is still one thing that you have written. You have broken the drought. The only thing that overcomes defeat is success, no matter how minor that success is.
An idea drought can be devastating to anyone that considers themselves a writer. Don’t let it wipe out your hopes or plans. There are always methods to dealing with an obstacle. You can go around it. You can go over it. With appropriate application of force, you can go through it! What you can’t do is sit down in front of it and declare “You win.”
Guest post contributed by Christopher Slater. Christopher is a Middle School History teacher in Tennessee. He’s also a husband, father, and author.