All of us face a blank wall sooner or later. Even experienced writers and successful authors face it. But for new writers, it is even more difficult to start off. A blank page or screen stares back at us, as we struggle to fill it with something interesting.
We start to write something, then think again. We delete it only to rephrase it differently. We may reach half way, across the page and still not be happy with it. Start again, we think, but somehow just can’t seem to get it right.
Here, are some tips to get over that initial roadblock –
- Step 1 – Use the prompts given as part of assignments in Blogging U. to come up with something interesting. It doesn’t have to be Booker Prize worthy. It just has to have your original take on it. Not registered on the course – use random phrases, idioms, words, quotes, song lyrics, photos, dialogues, tweets, facebook comments etc as an inspiration. You can learn more about prompts and how to use them here.
- Step 2 – Read recommended articles or posts that are mentioned by the Happiness Engineers. These usually are very insightful on how to approach the process of writing and also very helpful in giving tips on how to pick up ideas from around you.
- Step 3 – Read other people’s blogs, posts, comments. It usually does trigger off something – the memory of a similar incident, the death of a loved one, your own take on life, your opinions regarding a social evil, love for a shared interest. All of these can be developed into a post. This post was also inspired by a comment from rosecoulouredsince91 and the responses of other fellow bloggers. She has already written some greats posts since our exchange.
- Step 4 – Take a moment’s pause and reflect on your life – important milestones, incidents and/or experiences, lessons learnt or even setbacks – you may want to write about them and share them with others.
- Step 5 – Disconnect from your writing and take a break. Connect with the real world. There’s life beyond the virtual world, also. (I really need to take my own advice) Watch a movie. Listen to music. Take a walk and observe and absorb the sights around you. Real Life and Nature, both are very good sources of inspiration. Use it as a setting for a story or post – a fictional account of a seemingly happy married couple fighting while on holiday, an interaction between two strangers who are stuck at a bus-stop in the rain, a philosophical take on failed relationships, a poem about the starry night sky. Anything from the real world could be developed into something on paper. Taking a break is very important as it helps declutter your mind. Pick up that half-written draft that you tossed aside yesterday. Revisit a previously written draft after a short break. Stuck in the middle of an article? Leave it alone for now. Sometimes, the time away from your desk helps to see your writing with a fresh mind and perspective. This would not only improve the quality of writing but also help you avoid glaring mistakes that may distract and take away from the message in your post.
- Step 6 – Talk. Read. Ask. Just involve yourself in the stories of other people. Talk to your neighbors and ask the couple how they met. Chat up with that suave, confident office-goer about his experiences in college. You will get to know a lot more than what you initially did. Not only does it make you a better people’s person but also gives an insight about people and how certain incidents shaped their lives and made them who they are. These discussions can become the basis of yet another post – fictional, or real-life account or even a self-help article.
- Step 7 – Write. However obvious this point may seem, I can’t emphasize on it enough. You may not have a clear idea of how to express, so just ramble on. You may not even know what to talk about and how to go about it. So, just write about the first thought that comes to mind. Burnt the chicken casserole, frustrated with your pathetic painting skills, couldn’t find that important appointment letter? Write about it. Pour out your feelings. It doesn’t matter whether it makes sense or not. You can always edit and re-edit it later. You don’t have to even publish it or share with anyone at all. But developing the habit of writing down is important and a step in the right direction.
- Step 8 – Read up about the experiences and advice that the pros share. It may not give you ideas but will give you comfort and solace in knowing that you are not the only one experiencing “writer’s block”. Give yourself space and time. Usually, sooner or later, something or the other from the above points sparks off something and an idea germinates in your head. Go back to Step 7.
And soon you would see that have already finished with writing your article 🙂