This post is based on a conversation we had in the Duck Prints Press LLC Discord, and all contributors comments have been used/paraphrased/integrated into this post with permission. The people who contributed ideas to this post are: @nottesilhouette, @ramblingandpie, @arialerendeair, @tryslora, @deansmultitudes, @theleakypen, Owlish Intergalactic, myself (I’m @unforth), and one who preferred to remain anonymous).
Few things are harder than coming back to writing after a long period of not writing. Being creative takes a lot of energy, and starting after not doing so for a period of time takes even more energy. The writers on our Discord had a really productive discussion, where we talked about strategies we’ve each personally used to help us get our writing mojo back. None of these methods work for everyone, but if you haven’t written in a while, maybe one of these will work for you!
How to Revive that Creative Writing Spark:
- doing sprints with a friend – knowing you’re all in it together can really help!
- talking with writing buddies about what you’re each working on – the shared enthusiasm can be really helpful,
- journaling, about daily life, or about dreams you’ve had – turning the dream into something coherent can be a great strategy (or, don’t bother, and just write it however crazily it took place!)
- pick a random story you wrote in the past and read a chapter, paragraph, or 500 word segment – and look at it as a reader, say things you liked about it, praise it, emphasize the good things about your own writing.
- transcribe a song with lyrics you find inspiring, or crack open a favorite book and transcribe a few paragraphs. You can even do it with something you’ve written yourself!
- set a low-pressure, low-word count deadline – make it public, if you’re the kind of person that helps, or keep it to yourself.
- sign up for a zero-consequence challenge, such as a bingo, or the Duck Prints Press #drabbledaysaturday prompts on Twitter – something where no one will mind if you don’t succeed, but you might find some inspiration.
- create a small goal, either daily, weekly, or monthly – it can be a time frame (I’ll write for 5 minutes a day!) or a word count (I’ll write 1,000 words a month!) or even something tiny (I’ll write one sentence a day!) or a public sharing goal (post a ficlet a day!) and then do your best to stick to it, and reward yourself when you succeed.
- open your ask box or otherwise solicit short prompts – for example, do a “three sentence” meme (”send me a pairing and a trope and I’ll write a three sentence fill”) or a story title meme (”send me a story title and I’ll write a little about the story I’d create with that title”) or an emoji prompt (”send me three emojis and I’ll write a ficlet”) or make your own fun one that will bring you joy (one of our writers created a “name two characters and I’ll make them kiss in six sentences or less” meme that helped them a lot)
- participate in a prompt month, something with no consequences for failure but with prompts that can inspire daily ficlet.
- write without editing, and just throw what you create out into the world – anything to get the words flowing.
- challenge yourself to write a drabble day, no more and no less.
- try changing how or when you write – get a nice journal and write by hand, or if that’s your normal, try writing in a word document instead.
- write at different times of day, and see if it’s easier for you over breakfast, or after lights out, or during your lunch break, or by stealing a few minutes while you’re “on the clock” at work.
- make an attempt at different formats of writing – if you usually write prose, try a poem; if you usually write really long things, try a drabble.
- look out your window, or find a place you like, and just describe what you see.
- do some free association exercises – for example, use a random word generator (I use this one sometimes) and then write literally whatever word comes into your head next – keep going until you fill the page, or until it starts to turn into a story, or just until you don’t feel like it any longer.
- pick a random sentence (the person who suggested this often uses “Just write anything”) to be the start of a story, and “pants” your way through whatever comes next, without worrying about grammar, continuity, logic, or much of anything.
- plan ahead – schedule your writing time and don’t let yourself put it off (rewards for success are always good!) and/or visualize exactly what you want to write ahead so you’re ready when you sit down.
- if you get hit by inspiration, don’t put it off – even if all you do is scrawl a sentence in your phone or on scratch paper between other tasks, get it out of your head. Even a single sentence is a creation!
- get out of the spaces where your usual things are – go to a park, or on a hike, or in your backyard, or even a different room in your own home, and bring a journal or phone or laptop, and see what strikes you.
- pick That Thing You Haven’t Been Letting Yourself Write and ignore all the things you Think You Should Be Writing and just…write what brings you joy
- fanfiction can be very helpful, especially in canon using canon-compliant ships/characterizations – there’s no need to do the heavy lifting. Even if you just write the characters going to a grocery store, or talking about what movie they want to watch, or arguing over take out – something short and sweet that’s just for fun, with no expectations for yourself or anyone else.
- alternatively, if you’re the type who writes better for others and you’re feeling down – knock out anything, even something short, and post it, and take joy even in a single like or kudos. Knowing even one person out there loved what you wrote can really help.
Any or all of these may help you, but there’s one final one that I, at least, think is the most important of all – and that’s helped me most.
- FORGIVE YOURSELF. You have work in progress up. It’s okay to leave them. You told someone you’d write something for them. It’s okay not to. You have a deadline looming. It’s okay to ask for more time, or to withdraw, or – in the end – it’s even okay to ghost. You think what you’ve made is bad. It’s okay if it’s bad. You’ll never be able to create when you’re raking yourself over the coals. Everyone in fandom has “been there” – has missed deadlines, has left challenges, has abandoned works in progress, have reneged on a promise to a friend to write something. Until you forgive yourself, you’ll never be able to create anything, and isn’t even a single sentence that isn’t on that Big Important Thing better than no sentences on anything?
Forgive yourself, and find that spark, inspiration, muse, whatever you want to call it – and write things that bring you joy.
We believe in you!
YOU CAN DO IT!