The classic inspiration, a sunset. A beach in Massachusetts. Photo by Kate Ota 2019
This pandemic is getting people down. Sure, some are working hard on their #CampNaNoWriMo projects (and more power to you!) but others are struggling to write a single word. While many have more time at home than usual, some are trying to juggle working from home and teaching kids with writing, or are essential and working outside the home more than before. I’ve seen many on twitter claiming the muse isn’t appearing or they just can’t force themselves to a keyboard. I found myself in the latter group, but have done a few writing exercises that helped me get back into my #WIP. Here are my ideas to help you ease in to writing even when you’re not inspired.
1. Fill the gaps in your world-building
For off-world adventures, have you thought about the animals, birds, and insects of your world? For our-world stories, have you fleshed out the side characters? Maybe there’s something you let drop off to the side earlier in the draft and you said, “I’ll figure that out later.” Now’s the time to think about your novel’s world and make sure it’s full. Even if most of what you create here never makes it to the page, you need to know how things run. This can get your mind focused on your project again, and thinking of filling holes may lead you to go in and fill them.
2. Write a commercial for a product in your WIP
This was fun for me, since my current WIP’s plot is all about a business. But every writing project, even one without a business explicitly part of the plot, could have a commercial. Radio, print ads, or even the town crier apply, for historical settings. It gives you a sense of what people in your world value, or explain something the character has in their home. A particular weird flavor of toothpaste the MC loves, the bistro where a grisly murder took place, a hotel where the two lovers meet for their hook up. It’s a goofy thing that can get you thinking about your characters and their world.
3. Research a relevant topic
Maybe it’s as complicated as how a toxin works, or how a space station would function. Maybe it’s as simple as watching your MC’s favorite movie. Whatever it is, there’s something you know you need to research a little more to ground the setting, round out a character, or carry a plot point. Once you do your research, you’ll write it down so as to not forget it, and maybe even figure out where to use it in your WIP.
4. Write a scene you don’t plan to use
Maybe it’s a technical explanation of how the murder victim died. Or it’s a fight between the MC’s parents. Write anything taking place in your world, regardless of relevance to your MC or the main plot. Maybe it’ll spark something in you, maybe it won’t. But it’ll get you started writing, and that’s the hardest part.
Sitting down and getting the juices flowing is essential to writing. Always challenge, but more so with the anxiety of our current world. Hopefully these ideas helped you get started again. Do you have any other tips for getting back to your writing? Let’s discuss in the comments!