We were talking at the Plymouth Christian Writers’ Group about writer’s block.
We came to the conclusion that for a lot of people the main problem isn’t that we can’t write. What causes us anguish is finding a good idea in the first place, or, for that matter, any idea at all. So we came up with a few ideas to help us ferret out inspiration. Here they are.
Keep a notebook and record your observations.
Collect characters, mannerisms, facial expressions. How do people express themselves through body language? Watch animals and birds. Seagulls and cats are particularly fascinating.
When you have a selection of characters assembled between the pages of your notebook, choose one at random, and give him/her a challenge or problem. Then help to solve or frustrate it!
One of the writers in our group had bought himself a small book of writing prompts, and we tried one which he selected at random. It was this:
Your mother-in-law has written to say she’s decided to move in with you. Write an email to tell her it’s impossible.
The replies were highly imaginative, and had us all laughing.
The challenge of the character and the problem might bring out the best or the worst in your character. Or a combination of both.
Scour the newspaper.
Stories can be adapted beyond recognition. If you want good news stories, look in the i every day. Turn to page 3 for a positive story that lifts the spirits.
Make a list of themes which could become the basis for a story, for example, jealousy, betrayal, rage, shame, loneliness, sorrow, peace, justice, mercy, patience, kindness. Keep adding to the list as you think of more.
Pick one from your list and brainstorm as many ideas as you can. Choose one idea and write something, anything, even if it has to be shredded afterwards.
Writers’ block may be plot block after all. (Trust me – I know a lot about this one!)
What do you think?
I’m not very good at thinking at the moment.