Stuck without a muse? Creative spirit gone on vacation?
At times all writers experience moments of doubt, laziness, or disinterest in their efforts. We make excuses as to why we’re not working on a story but some times, lets face it, we need a break. Other projects catch our eye; we want to go on that vacation; we need to get away from the computer before our eyes fall out from staring too long at the screen. So how do we get back to form when we’ve been away for a while or feel stuck or uninspired? Sometimes the best way is just to get back to the basics and do some simple writing exercises.
Through these exercises we can hone our skills, boost our self-confidence, and cast away nagging problems. So if you’ve suffered a summertime slump or just want some ideas for a rainy day, here are a few suggestions you might try:
1. Find the muse with music- Some people love to write using music for inspiration but not everyone shares this sentiment. No problem. While it might not work for the novel or script you’re working on music can be a fun place to reconnect with your creative impulses. Find something new that you aren’t overly familiar with and let your mind wander through the piece. See if it takes you to some new setting or allows you to envision interesting characters. Maybe it will free your mind to create something totally unanticipated – a story or poem you never had in you. Maybe this is your big chance to try your hand at creating some original lyrics for the song. Go with the flow. Discover new artists or soundtracks, let the tone influence what you create, and have fun.
2. The nonfiction cure – What? I’m a fiction writer. How is nonfiction helpful? Life and art are hopelessly intertwined. A good dose of nonfiction might be just what you need to get some creative ideas rekindled. Not in the mood to read? There are some great documentaries available on about any subject or person you can think of so don’t limit yourself to the gospel of print alone. Just like fiction, nonfiction can put you into new realities, present interesting characters, and get you to look at an idea or subject in a new way. Nonfiction can put fiction writers onto any number of interesting and unforeseen paths so get moving.
3. Embrace the love-hate relationship – Often writers gravitate to creating characters they can relate to or feel compassion for but what if you cast that aside? Try to image a character you wouldn’t normally feel comfortable writing. Why? It will get you to leave your comfort zone, allow you to play with point of view, and possibly help put you in touch with a side of your creative self that you never knew existed. You might create a character you love to hate. Play 🙂
4. Single purpose pieces – It’s easy when you’re working on a longer piece to forget all the smaller literary tools that make the whole more interesting. Create short pieces that have a single goal. For example, a short story that only works to establish a specific tone, explores symbolism, is centered on a single type of conflict, or explores a highly focused theme. Brevity is the soul of wit.
5. New medium of storytelling – If you’re feeling in a writing rut don’t get down; instead, use it as an opportunity to try creating something in another storytelling format. You might be a novelist but have you ever really tried to work on poetry? Artistic? Why not try making a short graphic novel? Ever tried to write a screenplay? Well, why not today?
Bonus: Revisit a story or storyteller who inspires you – Don’t measure yourself against these stories or artists, especially if you’re already feeling down about your own creative efforts. Enjoy what they have to offer. Remember what drew you to them. They are a part of your creative journey and sometimes it’s just nice to “go home” and see a familiar face.