If you’ve ever faced a deadline you know occasionally, right when you need the words to flow like buttah from your fingas… they dry up and you’re left looking at the Death Valley of creativity.
Here are five strategies I use when it’s getting close to midnight and my publish button starts to mock me.
1. Go through your idea files. Every writer should have an idea file, a place you tuck interesting thoughts, sentences, stories, or situations that tickle your funny bone. Your style may vary from a folder in your email, Pinterest board, text messages to yourself, or sticky notes on your bedside table, but find something that works and don’t let those ideas get away!
Some examples of my idea file? “Why You Aren’t Married,” “How Raising a Toddler is A Form of Purgatory,” “Practical Ways to Be a Thoughtful Spouse,” “Living Gracefully Through a Downsize,” “Life Lessons Learned from a Wart,” “Guarana Berry is not the same as guana,” and “Playing Marco Polo with Strangers in the Mall.” I think I will get around to writing these posts eventually… so stay tuned.
In the meantime, go stock your file!
2. Creep Facebook & Twitter. Social media is the mother lode of ideas. Human tragedy, comedy and insanity scroll through your feeds. Live vicariously through other people’s lives, and check out the news stories that interest them to get an idea of what might click with your own readers.
Using social media you’ll find diamonds in the rough like:
- “”Rawwrrr’ means I love you in dinosaur. Everyone knows that, silly.”
- “When I’m in an elevator with other people, I just stare at them the entire time so that the ride isn’t awkward.”
- “I love everybody. Some I love to be around. Some I love to avoid. And some I’d love to punch in the face.”
- “If you put your finger in your ear and scratch it sounds like you’re playing Pac-Man.”
Posts, just waiting to be written!
3. Copy-cat. Imitation is the purest form of flattery! What have you seen lately that is brilliant? Can you re-appropriate it with your own twist? Do it! Check out your favorite blog’s posts. Was their spark of an idea something you can relate to?
Warning: don’t be so blatant it’s painfully obvious you have no creativity of your own… (that’s called plagiarism)… and give credit where credit is due. With that said, there are lots of memes going around that can be re-purposed. (You know my search term “Posts that Brought You Here”? Totally stole that idea from a really funny blog, Because I Said So. I’ve now seen it lots of places – because it’s a great idea – use it!)
4. Mock idiosyncrasies. Newsflash – there is no such thing as normal! You’re surrounded by hilarity at this very moment. When you hit the writer’s block, think about quirks and start poking fun.
When I get a kick out of an old boss who couldn’t eat at the Golden Corral because of the possible germs from mass humanity on the buffet utensils, or my political science professor who clicked when he talked because of an unfortunate nasal condition, my friend who chooses a number upon bathroom entry then tries to finish his visit before counting down to zero, or the fact my mom honestly believes hummingbirds will peck out your eyes… well, I realize I’ve got fodder for writing!
It’s even better when you can point out your own strangeness! Things like why I make my husband change his socks because my nose is in overdrive, my inability to mis-match sippy cup lids, or how touching the rubber on some phone cases makes me freak out they way I do when I hear are nails on a chalkboard… I am a strange, strange woman and there’s a lot of humor wrapped up in that if I’m bold enough to share!
5. Get all hyped up on Pixie stix or some other cancer-causing sugar sin and see what comes happens. If all else fails, go into sugar shock. This post you’re reading, well, it’s the product of four Pixie Stix.
(I am not sharing my Pixie Stix stash with my children, either. It’s all for me.)
I will utilize the sugar shock but I’m NOT going to snort Pixie Stix because I did that once in sixth grade (the time in a human’s life when their attractiveness is at an all-time low and intelligence severely compromised by hormonal imbalances). I was sure my head was going to explode, my eyes involuntarily teared for the rest of the day, and when I blew my nose the snot was purple and I smelled grapes. Lesson learned.
However, candy is totally cool as a blog post Hail Mary. Good luck with that.
What are ways you crush the writer’s block?
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This post was originally published April 29, 2012 and is being recycled as part of the “I’ve Been Around” summer! Hope you enjoyed it and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!