You sit comfortably in your dorm, made cozy by the (fake) candles, snowflake decorations, and fuzzy socks. With microwave-made hot chocolate in your cupped hands, you curl up under the covers with a notebook or laptop next to you on the desk next to you. Your eyes can’t help but notice it and remember all the past times you’d meant to take time to write for pleasure but chose Netflix instead. Inhaling a sigh, you put aside the half empty mug gently so as to not disturb the peacefulness of your room. The desire to write and read and experiment with words and thoughts spills from your fingers as they grasp the pen or click on the keys. Your mind feels completely blank. So, you Google cures to writer’s block. But, you realize you don’t feel like taking a walk, or stepping away from the keyboard.
When grinding forward painfully seems like the only option, consider these alternative ways to get your juices flowing and cure your writer’s block.
1. Find a word
Pick a word and write what comes to mind. Create a story just from that word or even look up synonyms to jog your memory of topics you may have forgotten. Find other words that rhyme with the word you chose and use wordplay and rhythm to experiment with your writing. Trying a new style of writing exercised your brain. And hey, maybe you’ll even find a way to expand your voice.
2. Listen while you write
Write while listening to music. Music serves as a major muse for my life, and certain songs can put me in a different head space. The new feelings brought up from the song can give rise to an idea. However, choose to pay attention to the lyrics and the emotions. These parts to the song inspired songwriters, producers and singers. Now, you have the chance to utilize this for a muse. Don’t forget to try different genres!
3. Pick a friend
Pick a certain friend and think about your relationship to them. Now, change your experience with them. Use the existing relationship and your friends as characters for a new story. Because you know your friend’s personality and traits, it becomes easier to think of scenarios and plot around a fully formed person. Maybe instead of meeting your friend at school, you met in summer camp or an internship. Maybe, you imagine that you two didn’t get along when you met. Make up a crazy, far-fetched adventure that your characters have to go through. The possibilities are endless!
4. Go backwards
Retrospect can be a great tool for writing. Look through your old pictures, notes–clothes, even–and use the past to make something new. Put yourself back in a time when you felt scared or alone, but use your new knowledge to change what you would have done. Write from an older perspective but in a younger situation. We tend to romanticize our memories and experience when we look back at them. An event that may have felt horrible at the time could have ended up alright, or even have led to something amazing.
5. Lean into emotions
Sometimes, the best work comes from fully delving into small emotions. Try using a feeling and exaggerating how intensely you feel it. Maybe you have a crush on someone in your class. Imagine you feeling utterly in love with them from afar and go with it. Milk the emotions you feel, good or bad. Maybe you feel nervous about an upcoming presentation or job interview. Lean into the feeling, build on it, pay attention to how exactly it makes you feel. Allowing yourself to feel all the details through your writing may also prove therapeutic.
6. Change your perspective
Think like a kid, or someone of a different gender, race, nationality. Imagine yourself taller, or wealthier. Change one small thing about your life, and flip it on its head. Shape the story with a change of point of view, or change of voice in order to spice up your writing.
7. Think positive
Writers and creatives alike tend to dwell on the negative. Conflict drives the story, but sometimes writer’s block comes from taking on something too big before crafting its basis. Remember the good things in life. Write about someone you feel grateful for, something you feel proud of, or even a time you couldn’t stop laughing. Sometimes these emotions or experiences become unused, and need more exploration to balance a story or poem.