Two Methods for Never Running Out of Things to Write About
One is a mindset. The other is a technique.
Someone reminded me recently that it’s the things that come so easily to you that it seems like they don’t need to be taught that you should be teaching. Your super power is almost definitely something that other people want to know how to do, but don’t.
Here’s mine: I don’t get writer’s block. Ever. Especially not when it comes to blogging.
I also never worry about running out of things to say.
It isn’t because I’m special. I don’t have any kind of super power. I just have a method.
Actually, two methods.
The first is a technique.
I keep a stack of books near my writing space. They change often. They’re books on topics that interest me. If I can’t think of what I want to write, I just open one of them and read. Just flip it open to any old page and see what I come up with.
For instance, right now I have Carol S. Dweck’s book Mindset next to me.
I just flipped it open and landed on page 174.
It’s got a couple of small stories about how important it is to feel accepted and like you won’t be judged. It includes this line that stands out to me: “You know, in France, when they’re nice to you, you feel like you’ve passed a test. But in Italy, there is no test.”
I can work with that. Maybe I’ll write a post about finding your own private Italy. Or why people put themselves in situations where they have to pass a test to be treated well. Or maybe I’ll write about what’s like to raise a child who constantly pushes to see “what happens to boys who break toys,” another line from that page.
So, that’s three blog posts ideas from about sixty seconds of inspiration. And you know what? They’re good. I’ve added them to my list.
It’s not stealing, really. Or if it is, it’s stealing the way that Austin Kleon advocates in his book Steal Like an Artist. The good kind of stealing. It’s taking an idea and running with it in your own direction.
The first is a mindset.
I consider writing my job. That’s easy these days, since I make a real, full-time income doing it. It’s my job in every sense of the word. But I considered writing my job, even when I made zero dollars doing it.
Anything else I might have had to do to pay my bills was my side hustle. Even if I did it forty hours a week and I only had a few hours left over for writing. That mindset really solidified when I worked as a journalist.
I dare you to try to tell a newspaper editor that you can’t finish your story because you have writer’s block.
Since writing is my job, I just show up and do it. It’s not muse-dependent. I show up like I’d show up at a 9-to-5, punch-the-time-clock job. Some days work feels just like that, too.
But most days, though, once I show up the inspiration does, too.
That’s it. Go forth and write!
Shaunta Grimes is a writer and teacher. She is an out-of-place Nevadan living in Northwestern PA with her husband, three superstar kids, two dementia patients, a good friend, Alfred the cat, and a yellow rescue dog named Maybelline Scout. She’s on Twitter @shauntagrimes and is the original Ninja Writer.