Anton Chekhov wrote: “My country house is full of people, they never leave me alone; if only they would go away I could be a good writer.”
I bet you have your own “if only …” sentence that tells why you haven’t reached your writing goals.
Mine change from time to time. “If only I was more knowledgeable about this topic, I would feel confident enough to finish this novel” (my present “if only”). “If only I wasn’t so easily distracted” … “If only I felt more motivated” …
I’ll tell you one thing that does help me break through my “if only” dilemma, and that’s working on something I’m really excited about.
Many prolific writers generate innumerable ideas, and my guess is they’re mostly great ones. Ideas for poems, short stories, plays, screenplays, novels. You have to generate a lot of ideas to get to a few truly great ones.
Some of my writer friends and clients complain that they just can’t come up with any good ideas.
Where do good ideas come from? Some people scour the news for intriguing events or situations. A cold crime case. A crazy political conflict. A traumatic situation in a Third World country.
Whatever you care about, what intrigues you, what concerns you, what moves you—that’s where the best ideas come from.
If you’re tired of writing in the same genre, pick something wildly different from what you’re used to writing. If you’re absolutely stuck and can’t face starting a big project, write one poem. Or one page of flash fiction.
If you’ve already tried all that, may I suggest five fun suggestions to help you unstick?
5 (Fun) Suggestions to Help You Get Writing
- You can find lots of writing prompts Often using a writing prompt has moved me to create a great piece of poetry or prose. Pick some that are challenging and weird—see how creative you can get. Try writing in first person, set in a fantasy world or sometime in the past.
- Look through images Pick a word or phrase and type it into the search bar. Maybe something really odd, like “elephants that paint.” You’ll be surprised at what you find. Start writing about an elephant that paints. Or use it as a metaphor for some aspect of your life.
- Listen to a new piece of music. Close your eyes and let thoughts and pictures form. Picture a movie scene with this music as the soundtrack. Start writing down what you see. Chose a persona to write as—someone famous or fabricated—who has an attitude.
- Grab a book at random off your shelf, fiction or nonfiction. Open to a page and read it. Pick five words that stand out to you, any five, then write them down. Use them in a sentence to start a poem or story.
- Write about an incident from your childhood. But don’t write it as you. Write it from a stranger’s or neighbor’s point of view, what it might appear like to them, however wrong. Or write it from the POV of a bird or mouse peering in through a window into your life. What does their voice sound like?
E. M. Forster said, “How do I know what I think until I see what I say?”
How do you know what amazing creative things will come out of your brain until you see what you wrote?
Got any fun suggestions to help you get writing? Share them in the comments!