Tips for the Busy Writer

by Kat Bailey

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I admit it; lately, my progress on my novel has stalled. In fact, it’s ground to a near halt. My poor story awaits on my computer, begging me now for a few extra lines. But whenever I sit down to think of my next great plot point, my brain just will not work. I know it happens to all of us, and for teens, this is an especially busy time of the school year, where stress and deadlines make every second of writing time precious. And so I decided to bring back into the light a few of my favorite ways to avoid writer’s block and maximize writing time.

One, carry a notebook everywhere. Sometimes my best ideas come when I’m sitting in math class. Think about it – lack of stimulation, mind begins to wander – and then you think, “oh. I should try writing something about that.” There are many moments of every day when we get small inspirations – but then the teacher calls you to the front of the class, and the thought is lost while you try to remember everything you never learned about quadratic equations. But writing a quick note for yourself does wonders – often, little ideas or snippets of dialogue accumulate in my head over the course of time, until I have a chapter, or pieces of several different chapters, usually within a few days. And whether it helps or not, it gives you something to do besides fall asleep and drool on the desk.

Next, use writing prompts. They’re all over the internet – try Pinterest, or Google images, or maybe even brainy quote. I personally prefer pictures to words. I find a picture that I like – usually a drawing or painting of something fantastical – and then I write down whatever comes to mind about the picture – observations or questions. I find that if I spend five or ten minutes tooling around with “What’s happening here?” I get some kind of idea. Sometimes it leads to a scene, setting, or character I can use immediately. Sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s always a great way to get the brain percolating. It may be that all you need to nix writer’s block is to write something – anything.

Finally, try incorporating more variety into your reading. I’m the first one to claim guilt here. My fantasy and mystery books are worn with dozens of readings, but history books? Hard science fiction? They gather dust on the shelves. But a reading reset outside your preferred genre can do wonders. A couple of months ago, I did a terrible thing to myself; I picked up a history book. Voluntarily. I almost couldn’t believe my audacity. But a) it was a surprisingly interesting read, and b) it gave me loads of ideas for adding a whole new aspect to my novel.

So, when your mind is straining for an idea, try one of these. It may surprise you what you can come up with when you shake things up a little bit. The variety of your writing will increase, and you will make sure that every second of your writing day counts. Happy writing.


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