It's so hard to get back to writing, though, once we've dropped the ball. You know that feeling you get when you look at your WIP and realize you haven't touched it in weeks? Yeah ... I don't want to feel that way either.
If the ball has already been dropped, if it's rolling down the sidewalk even now, we can catch it! Try one of these ideas, tomorrow if not today, and your writing mojo will be crawling in the doggy door before you know it.
1. Eavesdrop on a public phone conversation and fill in the side you can't hear - make it super scrumptious!
What you imagine: "Almost, I'm just stashing some M&Ms in Brian's sombrero."
"Ooookay ... well, I'm at a table by the window, so you can--"
"Do you think they'll melt?"
"The M&Ms! They're in the suitcase, so it should be fine, unless it bakes in the sun for a while, but I suppose the worst thing that happens is they become one giant M&M."
(See? What's more scrumptious than a giant M&M?)
You could also: imagine they're talking to one of your characters on the phone. How would that conversation go?
2. Got kids? When you take them to the playground, don't just sit back and watch, get in there with them!
Seriously: crawl through the tunnels, inch down the slide, mosey across the monkey bars; remind yourself how it feels to experience the world from that perspective.
3. Take in a local music event and let the music inspire a character/scene/snippet.
A marching band doesn't need to inspire a retro high school pep rally scene and a rock concert doesn't need to inspire a character who wears nothing but leather (though either of those things could, of course, be the inspiration that comes to you). Go for the direct influence, listening to the lyrics, mulling the genre, or just let the feeling of the music wash over you. Let your mind tell you whether your main character was listening to this piece on the radio when her college boyfriend broke up with her, or that you need to write an argument between your heroes that takes place on the rocks by the sea in the midst of a raucous storm.
4. Set a day aside to play with other creative pursuits.
Many of us creative types aren't just writers: we have other creative hobbies, too, and if we're trying to make a career of writing we often give short shrift to them, poor little things. Take a day to indulge those pursuits: sew a skirt, crochet granny squares, sketch the ducks in the park.
5. Dust off some old writing and put it to use.
I won't repeat myself here, because I've covered this in detail before, but you don't always have to come up with something from scratch when gorgeous gems from Days of Writing Past are just waiting to be unearthed. Who knows? Some of your past efforts might still be paying dividends!
6. Trade the latest ten pages of your WIP with a writing friend.
Okay, so sharing your work - especially unpolished, unvarnished, unprettified work - can be absolutely terrifying, but hear me out. You need to choose someone who won't nitpick, because that is SO not the point of this. Once you have the right person lined up, don't just trade pages: ask them to tell you what happens next, NO HOLDS BARRED ... and then you jump in and write it that way.
This new addition doesn't have to be long. It can be a chapter or a scene or even a paragraph. You don't even have to keep it if you don't want. Just write it, giggle over the absurdity of this crazy writing exercise, and hit the delete key.
What if it's not absurd? What if that random suggestion to send the main character's best friend to Iceland turns out to be the coolest thing that's happened to your story since Neil Gaiman favourited your #amwriting Tweet? (Hey, a girl can dream.)
This is one of those things where it could be nothing. It could just be something fun to try, to shake yourself out of a rut. But it could also be so rewarding you'll be scrambling to write down the words as fast as your mind is offering them.
7. Stock up on idea snippets.
Sometimes we write so fast and so hard that the well runs dry before we realize what's happening. Make like a squirrel or restock your idea cupboard, stat, or you'll be like a fish in the desert.
8. Read poetry (or something else that makes your head spin).
We all have our favourite genres, something that makes us sigh in delight as we settle into a hammock or cushy chair for hours of decadent reading. What can be utterly delicious for inspiring your writing is something that makes you swoon at how amazingly it's written. And here, I'm not talking about a scintillating story or a well-developed character, though that's great, too. I'm talking about the words on the page, the way they're strung together, the metaphors and similes and images that fill your head with pictures and sensations. For writing like this, I love writers like Rainer Maria Rilke, Audrey Niffenegger and ... okay, honestly, a whole lot of poets.
Whatever it is, read something that makes your head spin, not to analyze it, not to write like it, but just for the sheer pleasure of revelling in the beauty of language.
9. Make a Pinterest board about your story.
If you're a writer and haven't made some inspiration boards for your writing, you could be seriously missing out. I made an epic guide to the Power of Pinterest for Writers that will give you all sorts of hints and ideas, but here's a few to get you started:
1. Make a new board (private or public, whichever you're comfortable with)
2. Spend twenty minutes pinning things about: (a) your main character(s); (b) the story setting(s); (c) areas of research [i.e. maybe your main character is a chef and you need to research cooking techniques and recipes - pin some!]
10. (Window)shop like your character.
^ clarification was necessary because I didn't want to be responsible for your next credit card statement otherwise ...
One of the greatest things we can do for our readers is make them believe the story we write, the characters we create, have lives beyond the pages of the book. Today, go shopping - yes, LITERALLY go out shopping - as though you were your character, whether it's a hardware store for their next carpentry project or a thrift store for their back-to-school clothes or the grocery store for their first solo Thanksgiving dinner.
Chances are most of this won't even make it to your final draft, but it's heaps of fun and can really help you get into your character's mindset, to boot. And hey, who knows? That can of beans on sale for half price might be the key to that scene you've been trying to write for days. (Stranger things have happened!)
If you enjoyed this post, you might also like 14 Easy Ways to Bring Your Scenes to Life and How to honour (or toss) old bits and bobs of writing.