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What Happens When a Writer is Out of Ideas?

Updated on September 1, 2012

When the Light Goes Dim

The Idea Bulb
The Idea Bulb

The Writing Won't Flow

Have you ever tried writing something, short story, novel, research paper, and the words just won't flow? I'm there right now. I'm going to share with you a few ways I use to get my creative juices working.

First, I am working on the third novel in a series. I know my characters well. I need to fill in some things that happened in the time between the last book and this one. It is making me a bit nuts right now.

Here are my suggestions for getting things moving. I'm going to write from my main character's point of view all the things that have transpired. Then I'm going to look at those same things from the other character's points of view. Hopefully, somewhere in all of that things will mesh.

I am also going to walk away for a bit. I have a short story I want to expand into a novel so I'm going to revisit it and see where I can begin making changes. I will be looking at totally different characters in a totally different setting. Then maybe I'll be able to look at the third novel with fresh eyes.

Another thing that has worked in the past is to set a timer for ten minutes and write whatever comes to mind. It may or may not have anything to with my current project, but it could lead to fresh ideas. When finished, I'll put it away for another time. Sometimes these ten minute writes give me the inspiration I need to get back to the task at hand.

Set a deadline. I work best under pressure. So set a deadline for having a set number of pages, words, or chapters written. It's incentive to get busy and not waste time.

Pull out older works you have previously written. Can one be turned into a short story,or a news article? Work on polishing it up and getting something done with it. It might be just the thing to get you back to work on the project at hand.

If you have a novel or two out there, are your followers asking for more? There is another incentive. You don't want to lose your fan base. You need to keep putting more work out there. Make sure that what you are writing is quality work. Polish those stories, eliminate unneeded words.

For me the challenge is to go through my work and take out or find replacements for the word "that." It is a worthless word in moving the story forward. I also have to make sure I am using active voice and not passive. Look at what you are writing. Make each word count. What adjectives do you need and what ones can be replaced? Find synonyms so you are not repeating. For example, you can only say: said so many times before people get bored. Go through and find different words to say the same thing.

If you still cannot get your writing to flow, do something totally different. Walk away from the computer, typewriter, or notebook. Read a book. Read some poetry. Find something out of your normal genre and read it looking at the words the author used. Do any of these words appeal to you?

Try your hand at writing poetry. Haiku, cinquains, free verse, sonnets,even limericks, just for a different exercise. They make you think differently. Sometimes they are just what is needed when the words won't flow.

Whatever you do, don't give up.The piece you are working on will come together. Maybe you just need a different focus.


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    • Duchessoflilac1 profile image
      Author

      Rebecka Vigus 2 years ago from Johns Island, SC

      Ryohei, I have no idea.

    • Duchessoflilac1 profile image
      Author

      Rebecka Vigus 2 years ago from Johns Island, SC

      Thank you, James. My goal is to write more in 2015.

    • profile image

      James 2 years ago

      Simply wish to say your article is as hosnsitaing. The clearness in your post is just spectacular and i can assume you are an expert on this subject. Well with your permission allow me to grab your RSS feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please keep up the gratifying work.

    • Duchessoflilac1 profile image
      Author

      Rebecka Vigus 2 years ago from Johns Island, SC

      Ken, I started with blogger.com. It's free. If you are familiar with WordPress use it.

      As to tips for aspiring writers. Write something everyday. Even just a 10 minute free write. Read about the craft of writing. Study the people who write what you want to write. I write mysteries, so I read mysteries and thrillers. Attend a writer's conference. There are many good ones. If you can afford it spend a week at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival hosted by the University of Iowa. You can Google Iowa Summer Writing Festival. Best of luck to you.

    • profile image

      Ken 2 years ago

      Fantastic blog! Do you have any tips and hints for aspiring wtrreis? I'm hoping to start my own site soon but I'm a little lost on everything. Would you suggest starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I'm completely confused .. Any ideas? Thanks a lot!

    • Duchessoflilac1 profile image
      Author

      Rebecka Vigus 3 years ago from Johns Island, SC

      I rarely have writer's block. I do know people who do. I solved the problem by writing a different third book and making the third book number four.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      I just never get writer's block, I just never have the time I need to write, I would love to write 8/10 hours a day! I know many people do though and am sure this will help them!

    • Duchessoflilac1 profile image
      Author

      Rebecka Vigus 4 years ago from Johns Island, SC

      Glad you found it useful. Good luck on the next book.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

      This is great information. I have written one ebook, but have completely dried up on the second, its an old one I wrote back in the 80s on a typewriter, but its so old fashioned now that I think I will start again, nell

    • Duchessoflilac1 profile image
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      Rebecka Vigus 5 years ago from Johns Island, SC

      Anything that gets you thinking of different ideas is a good thing.

    • Routledge profile image

      Routledge 5 years ago

      I like this, I get in the mood to write and have 2 good ideas then run dry. Recently I have been playing a game (Airmech) for an hour or two and try to think about things as I play and generally come up with something I am interested in writing about by the end of it. I find sitting still is the worst for getting good ideas.

      Followed :)

    • Routledge profile image

      Routledge 5 years ago

      I like this, I get in the mood to write and have 2 good ideas then run dry. Recently I have been playing a game (Airmech) for an hour or two and try to think about things as I play and generally come up with something I am interested in writing about by the end of it. I find sitting still is the worst for getting good ideas.

      Followed :)

    • Duchessoflilac1 profile image
      Author

      Rebecka Vigus 5 years ago from Johns Island, SC

      Glad I could help. I have set aside the work giving me fits to work on another one.

    • techhound profile image

      techhound 5 years ago

      Thanks for the useful tips. I will be trying them as I have drive writing spells quite often. Awesome!