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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China

China flag

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but as part of my degree, I’m learning Mandarin! It’s definitely very challenging (and very interesting). I thought that it would only be appropriate to write a post featuring some of the most surprising (at least, they surprised me) facts about China. I think it’s such a culturally rich country, and there’s a lot to learn about it.

  • Reincarnation is forbidden in China without government permission. (Source)
  • In China, you can major in Bra Studies. (Source)
  • Over 35 million Chinese people still live in caves.(Source)

China caves

  • Tens of thousands of female babies are abandoned, and around a million are aborted every year in China. The ‘one child only’ policy means it’s preferable to have a male child. (Source) This means that by 2020, China could have between 30 and 40 million men who can’t find wives. (Source)
  • The word ‘censorship’ is censored in China. (Source)
  • More people go to church on Sunday in China than  in the whole of Europe. (Source)
  • China’s richest twenty people have a combined net worth of 145.1 billion dollars. That’s more than Hungary’s GDP. (Source)
  • Ice cream was invented in China in about 2000BC. It was a soft milk and rice mixture, packed in snow. (Source)
  • In the Tang dynasty, all educated people were expected to greet and say goodbye in spontaneously composed poetic verse. (Source)

And lastly:

  • One in five people in the world are Chinese. (Source)

China is such a fascinating country; complex and mind-blowingly huge! If you’ve ever been, I’d love to hear about your experience. Are there any other facts you think should have made the list?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani

The End Is…Nigh?

I really enjoy reading post-apocalyptic literature, and there’s so much coming out at the moment! I took on this craze as a kind of writing challenge, and I wanted to share it with you too: What is the wackiest apocalypse you can think of? What is the one way the world as we know it could end that no-one ever saw coming?

Here’s mine!

We never knew. After the first break-out, we laughed in their faces.We’re bigger. We’re stronger. They outnumbered us from the start.
We farmed them, before. We called them dumb and shut them away in the cyclic rhythm of our total control. We harvested them, killed them off as we pleased. We thrived. And then they fought back.
We don’t know what made them snap; what shifted in our relationship. Maybe one too many mothers were deprived of their children, or one too many fathers snatched away from their families.
We blessed them with space and called them happy and free as they picked at our crumbs. For years, we smiled down at them as we chose which neck to twist first. We built fences around them and said they were ‘safe’, but what we really meant was ‘ours’.
The first time they killed a man, we called him stupid. It was almost laughable: how could a grown man be over-powered by…them? Then the second and the the third and the fourth deaths filtered into our news, until we became the statistics and they became the threat.
We scattered and they flocked, breeding in the shadows and nesting in the spaces between our strongholds.
It took months. We fought back, of course. We killed hundreds of them. But the role-change was irrevocable. We had lost our place as head of the food chain.
We were forced back to the rivers; to the lakes and seas where they couldn’t reach us.

We still see them, occasionally: lined up on the shoreline, clawing at the ground with taloned feet and fluttering golden feathers. A warning, but also a taunt.
Who, they say through yellow beaks, is chicken now?

Hope you enjoyed it! If you decide to take up the challenge, I’d love to read yours.

Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

~Dani

Haikus and Movies

I found a really fun post where the writer summarised Disney movies…in haikus!

Just to clarify, a haiku is a Japanese form of poetry in which a stanza has a line of 5 syllables followed by a line of 7 and a line of 5.

Anyway, I was inspired to try some of my own:

1.
Tale as old as time:
Twisted stairs light darkened hearts
She came back and fought

2.
She trimmed and replaced;
Her weakness was not herself
But their ignorance

3.
And all the lanterns
Were not stars but dreams because
They defied the night

My challenge to you is to ‘Haiku-up’ some of your favourite films! Also, if you can guess which three I described (they’re all Disney) you may have bonus points. I’d love to see what you come up with!

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani

Writing Inspiration: Titanic

I’m assuming we’re all vaguely familiar with the tragic iceberg-Titanic story, but here are a few lesser-known facts that I found really interesting (and a little creepy):

  • The musicians on board kept playing for hours as the ship sank in an attempt to calm down the passengers. One of the last songs they played was ‘Songe d’Automne.’ (Source)
  • One key could have (potentially) saved thousands of lives: the look-outs were deprived of binoculars when the ex-Second Officer neglected to return the key to the look-out’s locker. Had the men had access to said locker, they could have identified the danger earlier and thus avoided the sinking of the ship. (Source)
  • The Morgan Robertson novella ‘Futility’ or ‘Wreck of the Titan’, although written years before Titanic was ever designed, holds some uncanny similarities with the infamous ship. Similarities include: the name (obviously); the fact that they sank in April in the North Atlantic; both ships were described as ‘unsinkable’; both had a passenger and crew capacity of 3000 (and a serious lack of lifeboats); both struck an iceberg at 400 nautical miles off Newfoundland. The coincidence is chilling! After the real wreck, the book was republished with some changes, like the Titan’s gross tonnage. (Source)
  • Allegedly, John Jacob Astor IV (the richest man on board) quipped to his waiter: “I asked for ice, but this is ridiculous.” Unfortunately, he went down with the ship. (Source)

This is a really melancholy topic to be writing about, but I found these facts fascinating. I hope they inspire your creativity as much as they do mine.

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani