New Year 2019 rolled around and we started off with such good intentions – to set aside time for writing, to be disciplined, to avoid distractions, to hit a daily or weekly word count … and before we’ve had the chance to finish a cup of coffee, January is over. I know for sure that I haven’t done half the things on my to-do list, and as for being a creative genius, well – still waiting! It’s easy to feel downhearted, but any time is good for inspiration to strike. And if you really need an excuse to break out of a rut, it’s Lunar New Year on Tuesday, so you haven’t been slacking, you’ve just been in tune with Mother Nature. Here are a few ideas to help you ignite that writing spark.
Try a different form. Put that novel aside for a while – and don’t even think about starting a new one! – and try your hand at a spot of poetry or a short story for a change. What about flash fiction? Ever thought about performing at a spoken word night? What about … wait for it … writing a blog post or article? Have you ever thought about a play or screenplay?
Try a different genre. You could even switch from fiction to non-fiction or vice versa. Normally write romance? Why not try sci fi for a change. Just do it for fun. You don’t need to worry about being good at it. After all, no one will ever read it, right? But you never know where it will lead – and it will exercise your writing muscles.
Use a setting as inspiration. It doesn’t have to be massively unusual. Just go somewhere, or find yourself somewhere, and look around – really look around. What do you find? What’s around you? Then think about what stories might have started or ended in this place.
On a related note, we love the site and app What3Words. Some of the three-word combinations provide great story springboards. Who exactly were ‘those.guilty.bats’, for example, and what relevance do they have to your parents’ old house? And who did you meet at ‘agreeable.glades.whips’?
Another way of kickstarting some inspiration is to enter a competition. Maybe not just one! Have a look around for competitions with different themes, word limits and parameters. Not your usual scene? No problem! Go as far outside your comfort zone as you can. Remember: you’re not actually entering these competitions … or are you?! Take the pressure off yourself by aiming not to submit your work … and you never know what might happen.
Let this be a month of asking questions. (Yes, month, not year. Start off with an achievable goal!) Ask a question every day. Especially ‘what if?’ questions. Take these stubs of inspiration and expand them. Go on journeys to discover your own answers.
Try collaborating with someone. Perhaps you have a friend who would also like to write, but needs to find a way to start things off. Put your ego on hold for a while – or help someone else do just that! – and chat to some other writers about potential joint projects. You’re great at wordcraft but not so hot on plotting? Team up with someone who’s brain is teeming with ideas and see what you can come up with between you! Or you might be the person with loads of plot ideas but lacking the focus to get much down on paper or screen. Work with someone who is strong where you are weak. Or you could work completely side by side, work out your plot together and write alternate scenes. If they’re waiting for your contribution, you’ll need to get on and do it.
The key is to take advantage of the drive to make a change or to start something new. Remove the self-consciousness and don’t think about writing for an audience. You can look for beta readers later! And write as much as you can. Don’t stick to just one project or just one of the ideas above. Do as many of them as you can manage! The more words you get down, the more material you have to work with and turn into something great. Remember: you can’t create something out of nothing, and even the most beautiful pot started life as a shapeless lump of clay.
What new writing projects are you planning this year? Let us know in the comments – we’d love to know what you are up to. Perhaps you could even blog about it for us!
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