Writing is hard, nerve-wracking even. No matter how much of a good writer you are, all your skills equate to nothing if you can’t find a topic to write about. However, you shouldn’t let a simple ‘writer’s block’ define who you are as a writer. Believe it or not, authors and journalists have been plagued by this phenomenon for centuries!
In an interview with Buzzfeed, author Rainbow Rowell shares her experience with writer’s block:
For a period of time, I’ll think nothing I write feels good. It feels like this gray muck.
Hasn’t this occurred to all of us at some point? All the stress, worry, and anxiety from feeling unproductive.
Nevertheless, there are endless ways to generate writing ideas:
1. Go outside.
During his junior year in college, John Green and his friends went on a road trip to South Dakota. They stumbled upon a ‘paper town’ called “Holen.” Green later used this encounter as the main plot for his best-selling book, Paper Towns. Like John Green, it’s up to you to connect the dots together and create a new story. We’re not saying ideas just come from thin air, but a quick stroll around the neighborhood can give you a new perspective on things.
2. Rip off someone else’s writing.
No, seriously. When you see a beautifully written piece, use it as an inspiration. As a writer, you have the power to personalize it as best as you can. To do this, you must add your own writing, get ideas from other sources, and recycle it until you can truly call the piece yours.
3. Talk to people.
The best way to generate new ideas is through conversations. Use people’s opinions as a building block to your work then reflect upon them. Ask your parents how they met, talk to your neighbors about global warming. There are infinite things to talk about.
4. Stay up to date on books, music, and art.
There have been many instances where writers were inspired by a particular painting, song, or movie. Take the case of The Da Vinci Code, for example. The book revolves around Leonardo da Vinci’s The Vitruvian Man. In another case, Kim Kardashian’s book, Selfish, sparked a debate within the literary community as to whether it qualifies as a book or not. Journalists were quick to express their opinion on said discourse.
5. Look online.
The Internet is a treasure trove of information. A quick Google search can give you access to thousands of useful data. Lucky for you, I’ve compiled a list of resources to help you get started.
- The New York Times’ 500 Prompts for Narrative and Personal Writing
- The New York Times’ 192 Questions for Writing or Discussion
- Radiolab’s ‘Pitch Us’section
- Skimm– news straight to your inbox
- Writing Exercises Subject Generator
- Reddit AskHistorians
- Reddit Writing Prompts
- Plot Generator
- Jill Williamson’s Brainstorming Worksheets
- Digital Writing 101’s Creative Non-Fiction Exercise