Do you suffer from writer’s block? If so, you’re not alone. Most of us do from time to time. The words won’t come or if they do, they’re all jumbled. The story doesn’t seem to move in any direction. Or worse—you stare at a blank page or screen for hours. Terrible, I know. It’s natural. Baseball players get into a hitting slump, so it’s fair to say, we as writers wouldn’t run into a bit of a slump.
Don’t worry. As a retired Navy veteran, we have a saying, “Don’t give up the ship!” This is also true is of writing. “Don’t give up the story.”
We all hit the wall at some point. Some may give up. Actually, that’s not true. Many people who start their first story will quit because they run into the wall. The more time you procrastinate, are unable to come up with ideas, the more you get discouraged. However, what makes you different from the rest is you continue to write. “Don’t give up the story.”
How do I overcome this slump? What if I can’t get back into the story? What if I’ve gone as far as the story will take me?
Great questions. The short answer may be writing prompts. Writing whatsits, you may be asking.
Writing prompts are geared to kick-start your muse, flex your creative mind. Below are examples to choose from. Aim for a hundred words. If you feel inclined write more, do so. There are no rules. One of these may turn into a short story or your next novel. The skies the limit, cliché I know.
• You hit a deer with your brand new car. While the car is in the shop you discover something about the car you never would have known if you hadn’t hit the deer.
• Your best friend gives you a surprise party, but you’re not the one who’s surprised.
• You find a key. You don’t know what it fits. You set out to solve the mystery, asking yourself, “Why did I hang onto it?”
• You’ve been captured by cannibals. How do you try to convince them not to eat you? If that fails, how do you attempt to escape?
• You receive a message on your answering machine. There are only 3 words before the message is cut off. “I need help …”
Writing prompts can help you hone your writing skills. They can also be fun. Now you have something to start with, yet the rest of the story is up to you. If you don’t like the examples above, I’ve added several links for you.
Whenever I get into a slump and I can’t seem to move the current WIP forward without the words sounding forced, I’ll set the manuscript aside for a few days and I’ll work on a prompt.
You may be one of those writers who work on more than one story at a time. This can be useful, because if you hit a wall, you can transition into one of the other stories.