I hate writer’s block. Does this surprise you? Of course not. Nobody likes to feel like their creative juices are gone. They hate it almost as much as they hate the phrase ‘creative juices’.
Yet it happens to all of us. I wrote three stories yesterday, but today I woke up with no ideas. Nada. Zilch. Zero. So I did what I always do: I wrote anyway.
My Formula (… + ! = !!!)
When I have no idea what to write, I watch TV. Most of the time I’m not stealing ideas from Stanley Kubrick or Michael Bay. Then again, maybe somebody should steal Transformers from Bay and make a good movie in the series.
I’m not looking for ideas. I’m looking for a distraction. I’m looking for something to shift my thought patterns.
When you are stuck in a rut, digging deeper in will never get you out.
The most original ideas come from cross-pollination. Take two things and mash them together to see what you get.
biology + chemistry = biochemistry
donut + croissant = cronut
Transformers movie + good director = ???
I was writing about my experience of getting into college yesterday. When I got stuck, I turned on The Last Man On Earth. Will Forte guided me out of my rut in a matter of minutes.
I don’t watch anything intellectual during this process. I don’t want to think about the show. I just want to be jarred out of my current train of thought. That is actually what makes a sitcom or a Michael Bay film so perfect: they require very little thought.
Set Phasers to Random
The real key is what I’m waiting for. I don’t need an amazing, fully fleshed-out idea. I need a prompt.
I’m watching the thoughts going through my head, waiting for one that is bold, silly, and in no way related to what I was planning to write. This becomes my prompt.
I take that thought and put it on the paper (okay fine, the computer). Then I just start writing. It flows freely at first. Once I understand where I’m going, I start to organize it.
I create a few catchy section names to serve as further prompts. I write a bit in each of them to see if I like where they go. I erase sections if I don’t like them, but I don’t erase content at this stage. I’m not editing. I’m brainstorming.
With any luck, I then have something. 90% of the time it is complete garbage. Sometimes I publish it anyway.
No matter how bad the outcome, I’ve achieved what I wanted. I’ve escaped the rut. That was my only goal. I wasn’t trying to write the next Hamlet. I just needed to reroute my train of thought.
Unlike Michael Bay
That’s all I had to say. I could try to make this story flashier, maybe add a few pictures of explosions or Megan Fox leaning over a Camaro. But I won’t because that’s not what I came here to do. (Sorry, Megan, you were great on New Girl).
If I can leave you with one piece of advice, it’s this. Writing is a creative art. Be random. Get out of your head. Go out into the world. Look for the muse that pulls you out of your rut.
Find your Michael Bay.