We’ve all been there. Staring blankly at an empty notebook page or Word document, the blue lines or pixels taunting us, jeering at us, mocking us. Whether it’s for an expository essay or creative writing, sometimes the inspiration just isn’t there. Don’t worry! Here are five tried and true ways to get the creative juices flowing.
1. Use music to write.
Sometimes it only takes a few words to prompt an idea. One fun thing I like to do if I’m stuck on a concept is to put my music library on shuffle and write the first lines from the first five songs that come up. Here’s an example:
“When your legs don’t work like they used to before” – Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran
“I bought this camera to take pictures of my love” – Bad Self Portraits by Lake Street Drive
“I know you know that you messed up” – Ready Yet by Sasha Sloan
“I’ve been rollin’ on the freeway” – Rollin’ by Calvin Harris
“Never thought that I would grow so old of seeing the gold” – Don’t Save Me by HAIM
It’s practically a poem in itself. You can use these lines as inspiration for something else. What story are these songs telling together? Now, write that story.
2. Get up.
If you’ve been sitting at that desk a while, get up. You probably have a hand cramp and your foot’s asleep. Take a walk, preferably outside. Fresh air and new surroundings can help circulate new thoughts and your circulation. If it’s raining out, try and think of new ways to describe rain. How would your character react to the rain? How often does it rain where they live? Make up details and the rest will follow.
3. People watch.
I love to people watch. People do and say some really strange things. The other day I was in the dining hall, and the girl at the table behind me said to her friend, “My best kiss was with a gay man.” Please tell me more about this girl. I need to know her life story, and why the rest of her kisses were so unsatisfying. Go write it.
Now, this method takes some form of self-control. I am a sucker for candy. Go get a bag of your preferred candy (or any kind of food, really). My favorites for this are Sour Patch Watermelon and M&M’s. With each paragraph or few lines you write, reward yourself. But don’t cheat! If you do, I’ll know. Well, I won’t really. But I don’t want to be disappointed in you.
5. Write anything.
Now we’re really desperate. Nothing’s worked. The deadline is looming. At this point, my best advice is to just write something. It doesn’t really matter if it’s brilliant or the best piece of work you’ve ever written, as long as you get something on the page. The hardest part is starting. Even if it’s just simple statements or facts, it’s a start. From there, you can embellish and expand. Hopefully this is just a first draft you’re submitting, so you can edit it later. And to be honest, I find that once I get over the initial dread of starting, the words begin to flow. If you’re reading this post as a form of procrastination, thanks for reading, now start writing!