Writing can be tough on good days and nearly impossible on bad days. I can usually manage a few words for a blog or a personal essay, but fiction can stop me in my tracks. Over the years, I have found some tips and tricks to help jump start my writing when the coals are burning low.
1. Make a character folder. If I run into interesting people or see a striking (good or bad) face in a newspaper or magazine then I clip it out or write it down and put it in a folder. A great character can really get the creative juices flowing.
2. Eavesdrop. I have been known to steal bits and pieces of conversation that I will put in a dialogue folder. Be careful though. I once got caught writing out a story a lady was telling. When I get stumped, I refer to real conversations to get me going again.
3. Go on a trip – in your imagination or even online. Look up a place you have never been before and then write a short story about that location.
4. Look up your family history. You might be surprised at the numerous stories your heritage has hidden in it. Make your family history into a book that can be given out at Christmas or just use the colorful characters in your past to get your own story flowing.
5. Write a tall tale for your children (or nieces, nephews, cousins, etc). Take an event from their lives and then add lots of exaggeration and humor.
6. Read. Just the other day I was stuck in the doctor’s office. Instead of being annoyed, I skimmed several magazines and got some inspiration for future articles (which I jotted down in the notebook that I carry in my purse). I also read a few articles to get an idea of the style that magazine was looking for, incase I decide to query in the future.
7. Write a poem – just for fun. The exercise stretches the imagination and does not require publishing to be a success. Create something straight from the heart. Unable to get my thoughts going one morning, I wrote a poem about our crazy cat. I use that silly poem to give my mind a break when other writing does not flow the way I desire.
Change things up and look for creative outlets. Make writing an adventure every time you open up to let the words flow.