Early disclaimer: Take this all with just a grain of salt because what works for me might not work for you. I have just found these particular tips to work pretty well and get some writing actually done. There have been many times in my life as a writer when I have sat down with the sincere intent to get some writing down and kept putting it off because it just didn’t seem to be coming to me, so to speak. I would go back and forth between the blank text file and everything in the world that was not related to writing – and hour after hour would pass with no result.
One of the biggest challenges that I personally face is that of procrastination. I genuinely intend to write a short story, or an article, but then I think to myself I will do it after I play a certain game or look at a certain website. Once I am done playing the game (however many hours later that might be) I, of course, come up with another excuse to not write.
An approach I have found that actually works really well — even though it seems somewhat indulgent — is to set limits to my distraction. For example, I will decide that I am going to play a certain game, but only until a certain time, and then I will write.
Conversely, what I also do is decide that I will write, ass on chair, for a set period of time and then I can “reward” myself for making it by playing that game. This is not to say that I don’t enjoy writing in itself, but when I am in a procrastinating mood, the “reward” idea is excellent.
Sometimes, the problem that I face, is that I just can’t think of what it is that I actually want to write. I find that the worst attempt at a solution to this problem is to just stare at the screen until you think of what to do.
Many years ago when I used to write simple programs in Pascal, I would come across a bug in my own code that I could not seem to fix. The solution to the bug would most often come when I had walked away from the problem itself and gave it some time to air, so to speak.
Sometimes, when you can’t think of what you want to write, the best thing to do is to just walk away from the computer altogether. Whether it is taking a walk or having a conversation with a friend, sometimes something remarkably simple will trigger ideas.
Another thing I like to do when I am really stuck is to just freely write. I will flip open a magazine and find a random photograph and start to write about the photograph — what is happening in the photo and perhaps even tell a little story. What happened in the time that led up to the photograph being taken, and what happens afterward?
Lastly, I would like to suggest creative writing prompts. Though there are plenty at the web site creativewritingprompts.com, simply searching for the term ‘creative writing prompts’ can get you more. A creative writing prompt is a simple idea or a phrase to kick off a story — fiction or nonfiction — that can then bring more ideas into your mind for what you really want to write. At least, they usually do for me. So to they should work for all of us.