With just a few regular activities, writers can reduce their constant struggle for ideas.
Writing is as much about coming up with a good idea as it is about articulating it. But we all know how elusive such ideas can be. Their hide-and-seek tactics have left us with the pesky writer’s block. Some writers live in fear of it, while some others dismiss it as a myth. The bottom line is that the lack of good ideas is one issue many writers face in common. Thankfully, you can overcome it with something as simple as a daily ritual.
Here are three of those rituals that can give you a steady stream of ideas to base your next piece of writing on.
Finish Your Morning Pages
Artist Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages ritual is your creative license to write with abandon. Grab a notebook and a pen early in the morning and write three pages of anything in longhand. Yes, anything.
Capturing your thoughts as they come — no matter how bizarre they seem or how unfit they are to be shared with anyone — is liberating. The strangest things come to light as you continue to write this way. When you begin with the first page, you think you won’t be able to fill that single page, let alone three. But once you stop overthinking and concentrate on putting down the next word, you’ll find it tough to stop at three pages.
The morning pages are not meant to be read, even by you. Their main task is to make you aware of the ideas bubbling beneath your consciousness. With regular practice, you’ll begin to see some great ideas come to the surface, many a time fully formed and only in need of expression.
For those of you who have forgotten how to hold a pen, try 750 Words to complete and keep track of your morning pages digitally. The site even has a points and rewards system to boost your motivation to finish your daily quota of three pages.
Try Focused Reading
As writers, we often wait to be struck by a stellar idea. But why leave something as important as ideas to the whims of chance? Take steps to conjure up ideas when you need them. Try stoking ideas with some focused reading. Instead of idly browsing whichever page the Web throws at you, build a curated collection of writers, websites, and books that have a special impact on you. Every day, absorb a little of what they have to say. Do enough of this for a few days and you’ll become adept at judging whose words can inspire you instantly. The next time you have trouble putting words on the screen, you know where to find the right push.
For example, when I’m short of ideas for my next MakeUseOf article, I navigate to the profiles of various MUO authors and browse through their article archives. If I don’t feel motivated to write at all, I seek out Patrick Rhone’s website or his assorted thoughts about writing to get me out of my slump. When I’m overwhelmed by all the deadlines I have to meet, I open up Zen Habits to find some clarity.
Indulge In A Stress-busting Activity
Stress can wreak havoc with your thought process and concentration. When you’re stressed out, you’re often plagued by lowered confidence in your abilities, a sense of panic caused by approaching deadlines, and an irrational fear of messing things up. The specter of writer’s block looms large once again. You can hardly expect yourself to give your best when you’re reeling under such negative feelings. No wonder you get stuck for ideas.
A solid way to release creative blocks is by countering stress, and the best way to do that is by not allowing stress to settle into your life. Involve yourself in some stress-busting activity every single day. It doesn’t have to be something complex or take up a huge chunk of your time. It just has to calm you down and refresh you. Taking a catnap, fixing something around the house, talking to my sister, going for a walk, solving a crossword, etc. are some of the simple things that act as stress busters for me.
One Day At A Time
I have outlined these tips for writers, but with a few tweaks, they can be just as helpful for other types of artists wanting to destroy creative blocks. You need dedication and discipline to keep up with these practices. But once they go from being random activities to ingrained habits, you don’t need much effort to stick to them. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you slip up. Just pick up where you left off.
Have a few idea-generation tricks for your fellow writers? Share them in the comments.
Image Credits: Find the idea by khalidalbaih (used under CC), perfect stranger by mezone (used under CC), Poesia by thebbp (used under CC), smiley face stress ball by jetheriot (used under CC) || All images are derivatives of their originals.