Writer’s Block is a Lie
Sometimes, all you need is a little patience and hard work and you will never want for a new idea
I enjoy writing about writing, but I don’t do it because I know it all, I do it because I like to complain and ruminate about the pain and discomfort of the writing process with others who feel the same.
Sometimes I brag and celebrate the high points of a writing career with the same group of people. Somewhere between the highs and lows is the answer to the question of how to be a great writer.
Sometimes we find the answers together.
I went through a writing dry spell a few years ago, where it felt like my creative juices had dried up, and I was having a difficult time coming up with new ideas to write about.
It wasn’t writer’s block; I don’t believe in that at all, it was more than my mind had too much going on, and I couldn’t fish out the good ideas from the other stuff floating on the surface.
No new ideas were popping in my head, no matter what I did to dislodge them. They were there but being problematic and fussy.
I knew I needed to figure out a way to gather these ideas that were floating out of reach, so I sat down and started brainstorming ideas to help me come up with more creative things to write about.
I came up with a rather lengthy list, but like most brainstorming sessions of mine, 90% of the ideas turned out to be trash. But, of the remaining, I put together a few ways to make sure I never run out of ideas again.
You are welcome to steal all of the processes I now use.
Don’t Burn Your Idea Log
For most of my life, even before I started taking writing seriously, I’ve kept a list of the ideas in a wire-bound notebook that comes to me at the strangest times.
Later, I started using Evernote to gather them all together, just because it’s so easy for me to keep the app open on my laptop or phone and type out ideas as they come to me.
I never know when an idea will occur to me, so I’ve found that the best thing to do is always be ready.
Whatever notebook, program, or app you use to collect ideas together for safekeeping, make sure you make it a habit to use it.
It is almost automatic to me now to switch over and fumble out a few words to document my brilliance.
Also, don’t curate your ideas before you write them or type them out. Keep them as raw as you can while still being able to understand what the words mean years from now when you are searching for the next big thing.
Don’t do what I did one time and write:
“The blue thing that puts the stuff in the other blue thing in that room where you never go.”
That won’t work.
Check Your Drafts
Since I started publishing online religiously a few years ago, I started putting ideas I know would make great stories as drafts.
Most platforms like Medium.com allow you to save drafts of stories you began but never finished, or ideas for headlines that you couldn’t get out of your head at 3 am.
I also will type ideas and save them as Word docs, so when I’m looking through my older work I can pick out the topics I never really explored.
Sometimes it’s just a title, but other times I will save my research and links, so it’s easier to pick up where I left off when I finally get around to it.
For a long time, my drafts on Medium and my folders full of docs were a place where ideas go to die. I never looked at them. I had something like 500 saved files and they were piling up every day.
Now, as part of my weekly routine, every Monday, I go through and read them for inspiration. If I see something that has been there collecting dust for too long, I delete it.
Some ideas are never meant to see the light of day.
Use your drafts.
Graze the Timeline or Feed
Now, when I tell you to go through the list of stories on your timeline in your apps like Medium or News Break, I’m not telling you to steal ideas from other writers word-for-word.
That is plagiarism and it just stinks.
What I am telling you is to look at headlines and read stories that look interesting to spark your own ideas. The reason you do it is for you to develop your own take on a topic, not to be a cheating copy-cat.
I do this because I set aside time in my schedule to read the work or my fellow writers every day anyway.
Remember that there are rarely ever groundbreaking new ideas, just other writers’ take on topics that have been covered many times before. But that doesn’t give you the right to steal their whole take and present it as your own.
Mold the idea, come up with your angle, and write from your own experience.
Plenty of ideas to go around, people!
Come up with 10 New Ideas Every Day
The process is simple. Set aside however long it takes to sit down and write or type 10 ideas. The ideas don’t have to be about writing, they can be anything. Maybe you dreamed up a new Pringles flavor or a million-dollar startup idea.
Write it down. Do it 10 times every day. If you work your idea muscles, it will become easier for you to easily generate new ideas.
This won’t be easy, it is hard work, but do it anyway.
Simple as that.
I Don’t Believe in Writer’s Block
I don’t give my mind the excuse of writer’s block. I know if I try hard enough, I’ll eventually come up with a great idea or will stumble across something that will spark my interest.
It’s up to you if you want to use the excuse, but a lot of times, I see people who don’t want to put in the work to find new ideas.
They have no patience.
They expect their muse will hit them in the back of the head with a good idea every time, and it doesn’t always work like that.
Sometimes you must push yourself.
Yes, it takes some sweat equity to come up with new and interesting ideas and material every day. But I believe it should be rare that you come up empty-handed.
The more you write, the more ideas you generate. I write and publish daily and rarely run out of ideas anymore. I’m constantly following the process that I outlined above to come up with new ideas.
I put in the work.
I know you are already putting in a lot of work on your writing career but add a few of these steps to your existing process and you will never again want for another idea.
Have I ever let you down? Okay, have I let you down today?