Weekend Writing Inspiration

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Here are a few prompts to get you through the weekend:

  • How would you spend your weekend if you could do anything?
  • Write a post from the point-of-view of Monday, The day everyone hates…
  • What is your weekend ritual?
  • Does the change in weather change the way your family spends their weekends? If so, How?
  • Write a story about a weekend gone terribly wrong.
  • Write about what would happen if everyday was a weekend.
  • Write about the best weekend of your life.
  • Is the weekend the same as every other day for you? why/why not?
  • If you could add one more day to the weekend, what would you call it, and what would you spend it doing?

Feel free to post your writings (or links to them) in the comments section below or send submissions to perfectlyprompted@live.ca

Until Next Time…

Write On!

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The Different Types of Writer’s Block (And How to Battle Them)

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Writer’s Block ia a subject that we have discussed many times on this site in the past. It can be a frustrating and often overwhelming condition that writer‘s of all levels face at one time or another, no matter their style or expertise. What you probably don’t know is that writer’s block comes in various forms and each requires a different approach in order to overcome the obstruction and take back your creativity.

The Different Forms of Writer’s Block (and How to Tackle Them):

Lack of ideas

This is the most common form of Writer’s Block and consists of literally staring at a blank page. Perhaps you will manage to write something down, but chances are you will delete it shortly there after. This can be a very frustrating experience and usually you can’t even get started because you have no idea what to write about. You are halted before you have even begun.

There is good news for those that are suffering from this type of Writer’s Block, this is one of those times when ‘doing a writing exercise’ may actually work. Try, for example, free-writing for a few minutes. This means writing without thought, simply put your pen to the page (or fingers on the keyboard) and let the words flow from your mind. Don’t worry about editing, or making sense for that matter, set a timer and simply write whatever words come to mind. Once you are done you can read through what you have written and pull out any ideas that may be useful. Another way to generate ideas is by reading, pick up a magazine, visit your favorite bogs or utilize online bookmark sites. (StumbleUpon is a great source of inspiration) By reading different materials you can generate ideas for your own writing. You may find a topic that needs more in-depth information, a different point of view or slight expansion, just be sure you share your source of inspiration so the original author gets the credit they deserve. Be sure to check out writing prompts (there are many listed on this site and even more that can be found though a simple Google search) sometimes simple inspiration to get you started is all you need to break through this barrier.

An abundance of ideas, but a lack of discipline

Another form of Writer’s Block is the challenge of having a ton of ideas but the lack of discipline to follow through with any of them. This common case of Writer’s Block is the type that I struggle with most often, I will have an ample amount of ideas about what I want to write about, but I lack the discipline required to complete the writing. Perhaps you have lists of topics you want to write about, you may even begin each piece, but somewhere along the way you get sidetracked and these pieces never get completed. I have files full of half-finished articles, stories and blog posts that require a bit more attention. The best resolution to this form of Writer’s Block is to file them away until a time when they do get your creative juices flowing. Chances are eventually you will be able to turn them into something in the future, but trying to force them out now will only result in disappointment. Set them aside until a later date or try putting a new spin on them, but don’t force them to work or you will wear yourself out.

The fictitious brick wall

We have all faced this obstacle in our writing lives. You start out with a great idea and the ideas are flowing freely. You are writing up a storm and all is going well, then suddenly you hit a fictitious wall and you get stuck.  It is moments like this that make you think about the art of outlining. Some writers work well with outlines, others are far better off just jumping into a story feet first. Outlines aid in creating a road to follow, but the good news is that they can be introduced at any point.

Creating an outline can help you break through any obstacles or barriers you come across in your writing, but they don’t necessarily have to begin at the beginning. Using an outline to get from point A, to point B, to point C will work just as effectively to get from point F to point G. If you find yourself ‘stuck’ create a quick outline of what you want to have happen next, and consider how your character is going to get there while staying true to themselves and the story-line. An outline, whether created at the beginning or the middle point will simply prevent you from travelling off-route and keep you in-line with your ultimate goal. So many times I have gotten stuck and ended up far-off from the point I wanted to end up at because I allowed my mind to wander freely without direction, and though this is not always a bad thing, you run the risk of taking a wrong-turn a hundred pages back and not realizing the result until it is too late.

The bold beginning without an end

This form of Writer’s Block runs along the same lines of the fictitious wall, you have a great story idea and your writing is going well then you suddenly realize that it is time to end the story and you have no idea how you are going to accomplish this goal. A good, even grand ending can make or break a book. (or article, or even blog post) Your ending should leave the reader satisfied, yet thinking as well. You can not be barreling along and suddenly come to a halt, nor can you end your piece without tying up all your loose ends. I have read so many books that have my undivided attention and then out of nowhere they come to an abrupt end leaving me stunned and somewhat disappointed.

This is another time when the outline comes in handy, consider also brainstorming to come up with ending options and choose the one that makes the story feel most complete. Make a list of all the loose ends you need to tie up before ending the story in order to prevent readers wondering what happened next. There should always be room for imagination, or continuation, but there should not be unanswered questions.

Chaotic characterization

Characters can create a whole other type of Writer’s Block. Perhaps you have spent hours creating these bold, substantial and vibrant characters with depth and detail. You have written pages and pages about them, they way they look, where they live, what they do and who they are in general, but they don’t seem to be ‘doing’ anything.

Strong characterization is important to your writing, but over-characterization is just as dangerous as none at all. Spending too much time chalking out your characters personality leads to boredom and inactive plots. You can quickly fond yourself without a story for this amazing character to act out.

Don’t get discouraged, it is not a complete loss. Sometimes spending time writing pages of nothing actually leads to something. By creating in-depth information about your characters you are getting into their world and once you set out to start the story you will know your character inside and out. The downfall to this approach is that most of what you have wasted time writing will need to be cut out during the editing process. Consider instead creating a ‘character questionnaire’ that you can answer for each of your main characters before you begin writing, this is like a story outline for your characters. Include questions such as, Name, birth date, zodiac sign, career, likes and dislikes, etc. Gather as much detail as you possibly can and keep this list close during your writing, adding information periodically when it fits in the story. The aim is for your reader to develop a full picture of your character over time, while the story unfolds around them.

Debilitating self-doubt

Self-doubt is one of the biggest causes of Writer’s Block. You start with a great idea, you begin writing, then you start questioning what other people are going to think and you lose your momentum.

Your inner critic can be your biggest setback and until you complete your first draft, that voice needs to be drowned out in any way possible. Don’t focus on the feedback you are going to get later, or later will never come. Chances are the problems you are imagining are simply that, imagination. You are never going to get ‘any’ feedback if you don’t first write. So tell that inner voice to shut-up and focus on getting your ideas down on paper. You will need that inner critic at a later time, during revising, so tell it to sit tight until then.

A Lack of Language

Another huge barrier that writers face is the challenge of finding the perfect words to convey their message. This is important if you are writing poetry or trying to set the imagery of a specific scene, but for the most part during the first draft the exact wording is not overly important. Rather than wasting time trying to find the perfect word to describe something, use the first word that comes to mind and highlight it in some way to be edited later. If you waste precious time on single words you will lose sight of your final goal and you runt he risk of this obsession over-taking your mind. Save simple changes for a later time and move on with your story and information.  If moving on is not an option, for example, finding the perfect word is all a part of visualizing the next scene in your head, than by all means take your time or take a breath until you can move forward with your piece.

From the inside out

This type of Writer’s Block forms with a fantastic idea you have inside your mind, you have a plan and you just know it is going to be great. You begin writing your idea down and suddenly it doesn’t seem so fantastic after all. Is this simply your inner critic getting the best of you? Perhaps, or perhaps there actually is a problem with your idea that you are only seeing for the first time in black and white.

You have two options with this type of Writer’s Block. You can choose to motor on forcing the idea out of your head in the hopes that it somehow takes the shape you dreamed of, or you can cast it aside and set out in search of greener pastures. There is nothing wrong with letting a bad idea die incomplete if it means opportunity to begin a new piece that may be closer to your ultimate goal. If you decide to let the idea go, don’t delete it, simply set it aside for future review. Sometimes old pieces of unfinished work turn into treasures after your mind has had a chance to focus on other adventures. These long forgotten pieces may become a missing link to a future story, so keep them on hand for inspiration.

If you choose to follow through with your idea be prepared for disappointment. If you are ‘forcing’ your writing, chances are you will never be completely happy with the outcome, but this does not mean it is a complete waste. As with the previous option, if even after completing your project you are still not happy with result simply set it aside for revision later. A fresh mind, and a few changes, may be all it needs to become the idea you once held inside your mind.

Writers often spend so much time developing and idea inside their mind that by the time it gets to the page it is twisted and contorted into something it never was, save time with an outline and a clear idea of the result you are looking for.

Erratic over-editing

The last form of Writer’s Block comes from erratic over-editing. This is when you continuously edit as you write and eventually lose sight of what you were writing in the first place.

One of the hardest things for writers to learn is to avoid editing until you have completed the first draft. There is no harm in correcting simple spelling or grammar as you go, but complete revisions of characters or story-lines should be saved until the entire piece is complete. You must let the story unfold before you truly know what changes need to be made. No writer has ever sat down to write a novel in one sitting, so stop trying. Focus on getting all the main ideas out of your head and on to the page before you try to perfect the product or you will find yourself stuck half-way through with no idea where you started or where you aimed to end up.

If you do find yourself in this predicament the best thing you can do is read through what you have previously written (without changing anything) and hope that the inspiration returns. If all else fails look back to the original idea (or the outline) and start over if you truly hate what your piece has become.

No matter what form of Writer’s Block you are suffering from, the best thing you can do is to keep writing. If a project has truly got you stumped move on to something else. Often times changing they type of writing you are doing, even temporarily, is enough to clear your mind of its obsessive focus. Take a break or try looking at things from a different perspective. Ask for help and always seek out new and interesting forms of inspiration. If you are truly stuck and suffering feel free to utilize our ‘Get Connected’ section here on Perfectly Prompted or email your questions, comments, issues, submissions, or even frustrations to: perfectlyprompted@live.ca

Until Next Time…

Write On!

How do you cope with Writer’s Block?
What is your most common type? 
Share you tips, tricks, advice and stories in the comment section below. 

Inspiration to Break Down Those Icy Walls.

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With the cold weather fast approaching there is no better time to get down and dirty with your writing. Snow drifts and icy winds tend to keep us cooped up inside the house where we can stay warm and cozy. For many of us this cold weather leads to cabin fever and frustration. If you are anything like me, winter can be the ideal time to advance your writing and find new sources of inspiration. Below are some exceptional and inspiring writing prompts that are guaranteed to get your creative juices flowing and help pass the colder months with creativity. So snuggle down and get in gear for some imaginative and interesting writing ideas that may change the way you look at the world around you, and help to expand your writing style.

Writing Inspiration for the Cold and Windy Winter Months:

Take 5 minutes to describe…

  1. A crime you would commit if you knew you would never get caught.
  2. One memory from your childhood you truly miss.
  3. Something you would do differently if you had the chance.
  4. An object, without actually naming the object itself.
  5. What you would say if you won an award for your writing.
  6. A good deed that needs to be done more often.
  7. Your favorite poem/book/blog/story.
  8. The inside of your closet.
  9. What is perfect in your life at the moment or What you would change.
  10. How your favorite color would smell, taste, sound and feel.

Take 15 minutes to write a scene that involves…

  1. A disgruntled customs clerk.
  2. A family run restaurant that is going out of business.
  3. A character that has intentionally hurt a family member.
  4. An email message that has been sent to the wrong recipient.
  5. A horrible first date.
  6. A mother and daughter having a heated argument.
  7. A man in the women’s restroom of a shopping center.
  8. A conflict that involves a computer disk.
  9. A man in a suit walking barefoot down the highway.
  10. A confrontation in a check-out line.

Finish a paragraph that begins with…

  1. “I have no idea what I was thinking…”
  2. “This was not the plan…”
  3. “The minute my eyes opened I knew…”
  4. “I remember it as if happened yesterday…”
  5. “I finally had the proof I needed…”

Using as much detail as possible describe…

  1. A snake.
  2. A murder or crime.
  3. A stain on the carpet.
  4. An overdue apology.
  5. Your favorite smell.
  6. A bad habit.
  7. A person you love.
  8. Your favorite food.
  9. How you feel when your sick.
  10. Your child/own eyes.

Make a list of…

  1. 20 interesting ideas for stories.
  2. 15 titles for a story/poem/post/etc.
  3. 10 character traits.
  4. 10 posts you would write if you could only find the words and had no fear of judgment.
  5. Great names for characters in a story and/or Bad names for characters in a story.
  6. Places you want to travel to or Places you don’t want to travel to.
  7. All the things that make you angry/happy.
  8. Your greatest temptations.
  9. All the things you would change if you had the power.
  10. 20 great settings for a story.

*Bonus Inspiration*

  1. Create a list of every word you can think of that begins with the letter ‘A’ (Each day move along the alphabet completing the exercise until you have made a list for every letter.)
  2. Describe/list your best/worst features, your values, your unique abilities, your goals/dreams.
  3. Describe what you feel like when you are writing.
  4. Write a story that involves a mother, a stolen diamond, a canoe and a missing penguin.
  5. Write an entire story with only dialogue.
  6. Describe in detail the next stranger you see. What they look like, where they are going, what their life is like, who they are overall, etc.
  7. Modernize your favorite nursery rhyme to fit the ‘real’ world today.
  8. Write a few paragraphs in a neutral narrative voice that describes the scene of a crime without ever revealing what the crime itself was. Use clues and details to help your reader figure out what crime has been committed.
  9. Write a story from the point-of-view of a child lost in a crowded place (e.g. mall, parade, market)
  10. Turn your favorite story into a poem/favorite poem into a story.

**Feel free to share your writings in the comments section below or link to your site**

Submissions of your result or your own winter writing inspiration ideas can be sent to perfectlyprompted@live.ca if you wish to have them posted on this site in the future for inspiration and critique.

Until Next Time…

Write On!

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