Have you ever had a deadline, or started a new project, or really wanted to flesh out a story, and just couldn’t come up with quality content? It’s annoying, and knowing that the clock is ticking seems to personally make my mind even more of a plateau of worthless ideas. I also tend to fall into the trap of fixating on one particular idea; if I come up with a vague concept about the direction of one of my stories, I find it very hard to deviate from it. Because I have to deal with these issues often, I’ve spent my fair share of time drawing up solutions to them. Luckily, two tried and true ways always come through for me. All of my experiences will be written as they relate to writing, but I believe that they come in handy for other projects as well.
The Great Distraction
This probably sounds counterintuitive, but one of the best ways I’ve found to nail down new ideas is to not think of whatever I’m working on at all. Instead, I distract myself with any number of awesome activities; I ride a horse, I go bake a sheet of cookies, I let my friends take me on a motorcycle trip, just whatever. I’ve come up with some of the juiciest plot points to my stories while following this advice. Maybe it works because I’m too busy having fun to stress about what I’m working on, and as a result, the new, fresh ideas are free to flow in!
An important disclaimer to note here: when it comes to work before fun, I generally thrive on the opposite pattern. I do better if I reward myself before the tough stuff, and maybe that plays a part in why the above method works so well for me when I’m struggling with forming new ideas. If I try to force myself to blaze through work instead, I end up sitting in front of whatever I’m supposed to be doing with my brain turned off, which proves to be a massive waste of time.
This probably… also sounds counterintuitive, but the title I’ve given it likely makes it sound way worse than it is. Not caring is a method I like to employ when I become aware that I’m fixating too much on a specific plot detail instead of stepping back and allowing the story to breathe. I believe that forcing an event into a tale just because you want it there—as opposed to inserting it because it adds to the story in a meaningful way—is a surefire way to end up with some questionable content. When I am confronted with writer’s block, or simply trying to write a scene in a way that doesn’t suck, I find that one of the most helpful things I can do is to force myself to stop caring. After I let go of the necessity I’ve placed on particular plot details, I’m free to explore new paths that may have felt off-limits beforehand. Oftentimes, really cool ideas arise in the wake of me relaxing my mental stranglehold on a work.
As a last tidbit to follow the abovementioned two tips, I should add that you should take care not to be too quick to dismiss ideas that may seem a bit too unique to be included into a story or other work you’re putting together. I try to write down anything that comes to me when I’m brain-storming, because you never know how something that seems bogus in one part of the piece may fit right in later down the line, or in another work entirely!
That’s it for my little writing tips. I hope they help someone out the way they’ve come to my rescue countless times before!