When the words won’t come, and your usual overflowing well of ideas is bone dry, try this:
- write in a different spot, in front of an open window, on a comfy couch, at an old desk, on the floor, at a bookstore, at an art museum, on the beach, at an ice cream shop, in the shower, in line at the grocery store
- watch the sky with the same passion and enthusiasm and curiosity as a 3-year-old
- describe the person next to you as though they’re a compelling character in your new compelling book
- write about what the people on the train are really thinking about as they shut the world out with their headphones or ear buds
- take a nap
- find a favorite poem and copy it into your notebook, and keep rewriting it until you memorize the poem word for word
- close your eyes and listen to a soothing guided meditation
- remind yourself that every writer and creator struggles with their craft
- take a break and take a walk
- watch something funny or silly (bonus points if you can’t stop cracking up)
- remind yourself why you write and why you create
- try this gentle yoga sequence
- jot down what you’re hearing, feeling, seeing, smelling and tasting right now
- reread a favorite passage from a favorite book (maybe ask yourself why you love it so much)
- write in a notebook instead of on the computer
- make a simple (or elaborate) meal or bake some cookies
- open the dictionary and remind yourself of how much you love words, and how beautiful and magical language really is
- think about what the world might look like in 3030
- visit the library, and browse the stacks
- write down something that’s true
- use something you overhear from a conversation as a prompt (bonus points if the conversation is between kids)
- start studying a work of art, and study it for an entire month
- explore the many different ways people reinvent storytelling (here’s a brilliant example)
- read a children’s book—or five.
When it feels like our brains are empty, it’s easy to also feel defeated and to struggle with self-doubt. But really this is super common. And there are many, many things we can do. Which is empowering and reassuring.
Ultimately, the key is to listen to ourselves. Explore how you’re feeling, and what you might need. Maybe you’re just tired. Maybe you need to get out of the house more. Maybe you need to clear your schedule. Maybe you need to read more, and surround yourself with beautiful words. Maybe you just need a nap or a day off.
Either way, whatever you need is absolutely OK.
What do you do when the words or ideas don’t come? What helps you reignite that spark of inspiration?