After the trauma of Honours, I decided to have a hiatus from writing for a few months and just enjoy the present. Now that my life’s in full swing again — I’m job hunting, blogging, creating habits for a healthy lifestyle plus fitting in a casual job — it’s time for me to resume my one true passion: creative writing. For me, it feels like it’s been ages. For the first time in two years I am returning to my favourite fictional world, trying to do it justice. So far though, I feel like I’m letting it down and as a result, I am losing my enthusiasm to write.
This isn’t uncommon and happens to all types of writers. Sometimes the lack of enthusiasm is temporary, maybe an hour or so. Sometimes it can last days or even a couple of weeks. In unfortunate cases, it can last months. Regardless of the duration, my understanding is that it’s a natural part of the writing process, and rather than just waiting for enthusiasm to strike again, it’s better that you seek it out. That being said, here are my top 10 favourite ways to kick-start my enthusiasm to write.
Change Up Your Environment
During Honours, every writing session felt like I was slamming a brick into my head. Rather than forcing the same habits, which clearly weren’t working, I started writing in the dining room with pen and paper rather than migrating to my room on my Macbook. It was the best thing I could’ve done. By writing on paper, rather than screen, I was allowing myself to emerge into the story’s world and explore its possibilities. A major reason why I believe I needed to change my writing environment was because I was having to drastically research and analyse during Honours as well. Normally I did this in my room and on my Macbook, so it became a habit to think analytically, instead of creatively, when I was working in this environment.
Try Out Some Writing Prompts
As much as I disliked writing prompts during class, they do help you stretch and prepare your writing muscles as well as giving you the opportunity to develop new ideas and scenes. You’ll find prompts of all sorts in any writing book, but if you’re after one on the fly, check out Jonathan Wright’s 510 Creative Writing Prompts: For Aspiring and Experienced Writers. It’s got general prompts, as well as ones for specific genres like Science Fiction, Horror, Fantasy and Thriller. You’ll find plenty of writing blogs, especially on Tumblr, that also have a decent collection of prompts.
Listen to Different Music
When it comes to a writing soundtrack, I’m a sucker for an instrumental movie score. This is for two reasons: (1) I’ll start my own X-Factor audition if I listen to anything lyrical, and (2) movie soundtracks are fucking awesome. However, being one of those weirdos who can listen to the same song on repeat for days, if I’ve listened to the same soundtrack too much it kills my inspiration. Sometimes simply whizzing through my iTunes and picking a new soundtrack is all I need to get the ball rolling again. Personal favs to write to include: Oblivion by M83, Passengers by Thomas Newman, The Martian by Harry Gregson-Williams and The Age of Adaline by Rob Simonsen.
I have to confess, I’m not a massive brainstormer – I get too frustrated by how unorganised my ideas appear – BUT as a part of one of my first-year units, which focused on the processes in the creative practice, we had to brainstorm things we can do with a cardboard box. Considering how dire cardboard boxes look, I was happily surprised with how my brainstorm looked and the ideas it possessed. The trick is to just keep going and to never second guess any idea. In brainstorming, any idea is worthy of being written down.
Read Your Favourite Book
When it comes to writing advice, there’s a reason why all authors suggest reading widely and regularly. Reading books — especially your favourite ones — will help you on so many levels. They give you a deeper understanding of the relationships between setting, characters and plot as well as revealing a variety of tools you can incorporate into your own writing. Most importantly though, a great novel reminds you of why you started writing in the first place. So pick up that novel, even if you’ve read it fifty times already, and get inspired again.
Watch Your Favourite Movie
Watching a movie works the same way as reading your favourite novel, only it offers visual techniques rather than written techniques. Not only does watching a movie give you a break from fretting over the daunting blank page, it gives you the opportunity to see with your own eyes how character development and plots unfold. While I wouldn’t solely rely on movies to learn narrative techniques — books always outclass in that department — they sure are a great way to witness a story come to life.
Fill Out a Character Questionnaire
Even when you think you know everything about your characters, there’s always more to discover! Answering questions can reveal so much about your characters, and your newfound knowledge can then ignite new ideas and spark the motivation to put pen to paper again. Even better, fill out questionnaires on minor characters. Not only will they ignite new ideas, but they’ll deepen your character’s purpose in the story too.
Freewrite for 10 Minutes
During uni, I hated freewriting just about as much as I hated writing prompts. However, after the ten minutes spent racking my brain and pushing through writer’s block, there’d often be a gem or two — even if it was just a sentence — that would make the pain worthwhile. Even if the finished product was a piece of shit that had no storyline and no character development, knowing that I’d pushed my writing boundaries and tried new genres and techniques was enough to keep me going.
It’s amazing how naturally a story can develop without having the pressure of writing it all down. Of course, all the best ideas happen when there’s no pen and paper around; the shower, driving in the car, when you’re warm and comfy in your bed and too lazy to get out. While it can feel counterproductive at times, from my own experience I find it vitally important to drape across my bed, relax, and let my mind wander freely through the fictional world. That way, I discover new aspects of my world I wouldn’t otherwise uncover.
Treat Yourself to New stationery
Sometimes staring at an empty page is daunting, so much so that I don’t want to put pen to paper. On other occasions, when it involves a fresh new notebook and fully inked pen, I can’t wait to explore the possibilities and jot it all down. It’s the same for any new thing you buy; an outfit you want to show off immediately, a game you want to become absorbed in. Stationary is no different. The fresh pages ignite an eagerness to fill it up as quickly as possible.