Things to Write About When You’re Out of Ideas

We’ve all been there – you’re ready to start wielding your extensive vocabulary and syntactical prowess…and the ideas just stop. The words don’t make sense any more, and you can’t remember how it was ever possible to pull a story out of your barren brains.

First of all, I want to encourage you. This happens to everyone! Writer’s block is temporary. Your beautiful tropical garden of a brain will soon bear inspiration-fruits again, but until then, here are some ideas to tide you over.

1: People-Watch

Go outside, get on public transport, and just observe (in the least creepy way possible.) Who is that man with a moustache like an eyebrow? And does that woman have a…ferret? In her sleeve? Fill in the gaps yourself – where they’re from, where they’re going, what’s they’re deepest darkest secret…

And if all else fails, I suppose you could just ask them.

2: Record your Dreams

Dreams are one of my favourite things to keep track of – not to analyse, but to laugh at at a later date. But dreams can also be amazing writing prompts; no one is as creative as Subconscious You! I have recurring nightmares about octopuses, and that fear of the unknown depths is actually something that feeds into a lot of my stories.

And no stress if your sleeping self isn’t coming up with best-seller material – even just writing down what happened in a coherent way is a great writing exercise, and probably quite good for your psychological health.

3: Write Someone Else’s Story

Disclaimer, I’m not talking about plagiarism here! I’m thinking more of verbal stories (although retelling your country’s traditional stories can be fun too!) – the kind your grandma probably likes to tell. I’m sure your family or friendship group have a wealth of stories that you all love to remind each other of, and that would translate really well into the story you’re working on! Sometimes the funniest literary anecdotes are those derived from a true story.

4: Write Someone Else’s Words

This one’s less creative, but I often find it helpful to choose a page by one of my favourite writers, and just copy it out by hand. It trains you to use words and sentence structures you might not normally use, and just feel the way their words flow when you write them. It’s not about learning to imitate their style, but learning from their strengths and expanding what you know how to write.

5: Re-Write Something Old

If you’ve been writing for a while, you might find it helpful to go back to some of your older work, and see how you can improve on it with all your newfound experience! Rewrite your poems, edit and expand your stories…if nothing new’s coming, it just might be time to revisit an old treasure.

I hope this helps – and do leave a comment if you have any other tips! Also if you’ve had a particularly interesting dream, I’d really like to know about that. Dreams are great.

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

Dani

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2014 Reading Wrap-up

Happy New Year’s Eve, everyone! I’m so excited about this post: my first ever YEAR-long reading wrap up!

For 2014, I set myself the challenge of reading 100 books, and (drumroll, please) I got through 117! (Hurray, party poppers…and moving swiftly on.)

According to Goodreads, that’s 31,645 pages!

I’ve worked out a few more little chart-y things about this year’s reading, too:

Authors

Gender Pie 2014

Nationality Pie 2014

Genres

Genre Pie 2014

Next year, my plan is to read a little more variety – looking back over my reading list, there’s a huge amount written by American men. I need more angles!

How many books did you get through this year? Do you have any reading resolutions for next year?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani

Interesting Facts About Writers

Recently, I’ve been reading a few autobiographical books of authors, and it struck me that writers can be quite strange and acutely interesting people. Here’s a little collection of facts about famous writers that I found fascinating.

  • Margaret Atwood once had a boyfriend who sent her a real, blood-sodden cow’s heart pierced by an arrow¬† for¬†Valentine’s Day. What a romantic.
  • Michael Morpurgo’s grandfather was a poet, some of whose works were set to music by Edward Elgar himself!
  • If you reading this have published a piece of writing and are disappointed with the ten copies you’ve sold, take heart – you’re doing better than the Brontes’ first did, my friend! In 1846, the Bronte sisters collaborated and published a book of poetry…it sold two copies.

Virginia Woolf beard hoax

 

  • The above photograph details what is known as the ‘Dreadnought hoax‘. Basically, a group of Bloomsbury writers and artists including, Virginia Woolf, dressed up and donned fake beards to trick the crew of the HMS Dreadnought into thinking they were Abyssinian princes. They were given a forty minute tour of the ship.
  • As a schoolboy, Roald Dahl worked as a taste-tester for Cadbury’s chocolate.
  • Victor Hugo’s cure for writer’s block was…nudity. He’d get his servants to remove his clothes, and instruct them not to return them until he’d met his deadline.
  • John Steinbeck’s first manuscript for Of Mice and Men was eaten by his puppy. He later wrote telling his editor: “I was pretty mad, but the poor little fellow may have been acting critically.”
  • Charles Dickens always carried a compass with him: he liked to sleep facing the north. He thought it would improve his writing.

I hope you enjoyed this little collection of trivia – let me know your favourite literary facts!

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day.

~Dani