At one time or another, most writers find themselves facing a blank page or screen, wondering what to write next. Sometimes this unnerving experience happens at the beginning of a new writing project—where to begin, you wonder? Other times it may happen in the middle of a work-in-progress. You ask yourself, now what? Where do I go from here?
Don’t mistake this for writer’s block. If you’re sitting down at your computer or at your desk with yellow pad in hand, you’re not blocked; you’re just temporarily stymied by a minor case of page fright. It can be brought on by a headache or too many distractions. You may be fatigued or preoccupied with other matters. You might be feeling blue. No matter what you do you just can’t seem to concentrate. Don’t try! Here are 10 simple strategies that will help you get back in the writing groove.
(1) Go out for a café Americano at your favorite coffee shop. Take a notebook. Eavesdrop on a nearby conversation and try to write down the overheard conversation word for word.
(2) Keep your brain limber. Concentrate on learning a new embroidery stitch. Put together a challenging jigsaw puzzle. Before you know it, your brain will start working out possibilities regarding your current writing project.
(3) Write nasty retorts to your latest collection of rejections—but don’t mail them! Tell that unimaginative editor that her rejection letter does not meet your current needs. This can be cathartic and even humorous.
(4) Write letters to living authors that you admire. Definitely mail them or post positive comments on their blogs.
(5) Do something childlike—buy yourself a jar of bubbles or a book of paper dolls. Cut them out and the clothes too. Finger paint with chocolate pudding. Go fly a kite. Buy a coloring book and a new box of crayons. Activities such as these really are rejuvenating!
(6) Keep a biography of a famous writer or a memoir written by an author you admire next to your writing workspace. I have enjoyed One Writer’s Beginnings by Eudora Welty and On Writing by Stephen King. Read a chapter or two whenever you feel page fright coming on.
(7) Do something outdoors. Research shows that sunshine and fresh air can relieve a multitude of ills. Take a walk. Plant some tulips. Take your laptop to the park. I actually have a favorite picnic table at a nearby park where I retreat to when I need a change of pace. The great outdoors can be a potent cure-all.
(8) Peruse mail order catalogs for ideas, particularly book catalogs like Bas Bleu or Chinaberry. Read the text. Underline phrases you particularly like. Circle words that you find intriguing. What is “shattered silk” anyway?
(9) Do something you’ve been avoiding, such as renewing your driver’s license or cleaning out the closets. Make that dental appointment. Haul used clothing and old toys to donate to the thrift shop. It will be one less thing on your mind to distract you from writing.
(10) Go to a book singing, even if you don’t know or like the author. Envy can be motivating.
Our workbook, Write a Marketable Children’s Book in 7 Weeks, will motivate you with a plan and a step-by-step process.