death-in-its-most-hideous-form asked: Any advice for a writer who is beyond W-blocked? Like in a writing depression (not just “write anything,” that doesn’t work for me)?
I do not envy you. And no, I can imagine that “write anything” would be rather bewildering advice to give at this moment.
How about “write something”? Over the next week, try to write at least 500 words per day, using the exercises below or anything else you can think up.
- Write with a purpose. Whether it’s a poem as a gift to a friend or a letter to a pen pal, write to someone for something. Instead of writing for yourself, write to someone else. May we suggest answering some questions for WriteMeIn?
- Rant. Write a post about something that’s really been bothering you. As you write, notice how passionate you are, really notice. Passion is an amazing writing tool. It gets us through the day and wakes us up in the middle of the night for more. Write about something that makes you angry or sad, something that makes you feel, and remember what it was like to have passion while you write.
- Copy from life. Sit in a coffee shop or in class or at work and jot down the conversations of the people around you. Since you lack the inspiration, use their words as a launching point or simply to help you meet your 500-word quota. The point is to exercise that pen a bit, not necessarily to write a novella about a classmate wishing to borrow a sheet of paper.
- Comment on blogs. Tumblr ask boxes are perfect because they limit your space, so you must compose rather than going on at great length on a subject. Comment to a few blogs each day. Tell them what you think of their articles/graphics/gifs/faces/whatever. Tell them you love/hate their blog. Be passionate. Try commenting only during the time of day when you normally write (for me, it’s in the late evening or early morning) to help yourself get back into the rhythm of writing during that time.
- Let people read your work. With commenting and writing with a purpose, other people will see what you’ve written, but it’s not necessary fiction that you’re writing. Let a stranger read and give feedback on something you’ve written in the recent past. Positive reinforcement that others enjoy your writing can be a wonderful source of self-esteem and may be just the kick in the pants that you need.
- Read a magazine. Go read some random short articles, maybe even just on Wikipedia, on something that you know next to nothing about. Take notes. Lift character and plot ideas from these articles, even if you don’t plan to take them anywhere. This exercise is to get you back into the flow of finding creative writing ideas and experiencing newness (which can also be achieved by going somewhere new or meeting new people). Newness is a big deal for writers. If we don’t leave the house, we may get stuck in a rut.
- Doodle. Trust us. Doodle.
- lullabydust adds: My personal favorite, and this always works for me, is to rewrite something you’ve already written. Take the last chapter and rewrite it word-for-word. I find that by the time I get to the end the juices are really flowing and I can just keep writing! I do the same thing with poems sometimes~ Alternatively, for the less-intensely writer’s blocked, re-write a scene in less literal terms. Take some scene that you know isn’t good enough and rewrite it! You may not be increasing your page count, but at least you’re being productive :)
I hope those help! If anyone has any other ideas to add, please send them to our ask box and we’ll add them to the list.
Thank you for your question (and good luck)!