Writers are creatures of habit. They do the same things the same way. Sometimes, this works well– maybe you have a lucky chair or desk you write in. Sometimes, though, this sameness causes things to go stale– and it shows up in your writing.
If you’re feeling stuck, bland, or uninspired, you need a change of scenery. Here are some ideas of things you can do to jumpstart you physically, mentally, and emotionally:
Do something you’ve never done before.
Go to the beach and brainstorm or write there.
Go to a busy Starbucks or local cafe and write there.
Go for a walk through the woods by yourself with no electronics.
Take an entire week off with no access to electronics.
People watch for an entire afternoon
Read something in a genre you’ve never read before
Re-read your favorite book from childhood
Call someone you haven’t called in a while
Apologize to someone you need to apologize to
Pay the toll for someone behind you
Spend the day on a farm
Visit the “poor” section of town
Volunteer in a homeless shelter for an afternoon
Visit the ritzy section of town
Dress up like someone you admire
Read about the life of a writer from two centuries ago
… you get the idea. It’s time to break out and do something completely unexpected. You may have heard this advice before, but you likely haven’t seen anything like this list before. One or more of those ideas stood out to you. Now, do them.
You’ll come back to your writing with a new perspective, a new jolt of creativity, and total freedom to write something awesome much more quickly than you would have had you just stared at the blinking cursor for hours on end.
No, I’m not saying you should get out there and write a screenplay. I’m saying you should feel and know your characters as deeply as you would if you were directing them in a movie. You should know what they look like, what their background is, what their physical and emotional flaws are, and more.
Many writers struggle to get to know their characters. They get frustrated and experience writer’s block because they don’t have a clear enough picture of who their characters are. It’s one thing to “direct” people you can see and hear. It’s another to try to “direct” characters who don’t yet exist and haven’t come alive in your mind.
You need to make your characters live before you get started writing so they are easier to direct. If they are alive, it’s much easier to take them in unexpected and magical places because you don’t have to spend any energy wondering who they are.
How do you do this?
You create them.
Flip through a magazine and find people who represent each character. Find and cut out objects, travel destinations, homes, and other photos and graphics that represent who your character is and what they love, hate, do, and feel. Paste your character and the other images to a poster board so you can glance up and see your character whenever you need to. Do this for each major character and you’ll be surrounded by “people” who have actual lives instead of a few lines of flat, typed characteristics. Alternatively, create this “poster” on your computer using digital images for easy access.
It will be so much easier to write compelling scenes, dialogue, and descriptions once you do this. Make your characters live and you’ll write more quickly, write better, and write more productively. Have fun with this– it sincerely will banish writer’s block and anxiety in writing fiction.