There are times when I find it difficult to write. Sometimes I’ll sit in front of the computer with the best of intentions, but the words don’t come and the page remains blank. Yes, I want to be writing – I desperately want to create – but I feel stuck. Usually it’s because I’m stressed or finding it difficult to think, or trying not to focus on the other things I should be doing instead (i.e. cleaning).
So when the words won’t come, I try to think of other things I can do that will help push my ideas in a forward direction, instead of letting them swirl in an eternal vortex of hesitation. Such as…
Outlining. I never used to be big on outlining. I would sometimes know specific scenes and maybe how I wanted a story to end, but I always got there organically. Sometimes I even wrote out of order, having to find ways to cobble scenes together coherently. But when I’m having trouble writing I find that jotting down a rough outline of how I want the scene to look will help me. This especially helps with stress-brain, as now I know what I’m looking for and working towards. [This probably counts as writing, but it’s still different than actually writing the story.]
Creating Avatars. My visualizing isn’t always the best, so sometimes I’ll go online and create an avatar so that I have a quick reference to what a character looks like. What was their eye colour? Hair colour? Skin colour? Just look at this photo and you’ll know. And you don’t have to stop at avatars – create or find reference photos for places or buildings, too.
Reading a Great Book. When I was in high school I had two friends who were writing stories and they inspired me so much that I wanted to write one of my own. To this day, I can easily get inspired just by reading something amazing. It makes me want to create something just as wonderful. [Note: I can also sometimes be inspired by a book I find not-so-amazing, as it inspires me to write a story that doesn’t have all those things that bothered me in it.]
Reading or Watching Something Similar. If I’m having trouble slipping back into the world I’ve created, I’ll sometimes find something that’s similar in genre/character/tone, to help ease me into the world. It’s not always a book – it can be a television show or movie or graphic novel. Usually I go back to the thing that inspired me in the beginning. Whether it’s a musical that brought about a short story or a television show that I’ve spun into a series, taking another look can help me re-discover my original inspiration.
What are some of your favourite helpful non-writing activities?