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Writing When You Have Nothing to Say

An ever-looming issue most writers have, especially someone like myself, is simply finding something to write about! The dreaded writer’s block combines with the exhaustion of Adulting - in my case working a full time job as a nanny for a three year old and a four year old - to make a perfect storm: lack of content...the issue plaguing both this blog and my writing life.

So, the question then becomes, how do you write when you feel like you have nothing to say? Or when you have no, dare I say it, inspiration?

Over the years I have learned a lot about myself as a writer, and what works for me when I’m feeling like writing just isn’t working, or doesn’t want to happen. So, I want to share what I’ve learned with you.

The unfortunate, and also awesome thing, about writing is that it’s not a perfect science, as much as successful writers who have their process figured out will want to tell you. It really varies person to person. So, while turning off notifications on my phone, and turning on some John Mayer usually does the trick for me, I know that my boyfriend, who is also a writer, would get absolutely nothing done in that kind of environment.

My best advice would be to try out a bunch of different situations and techniques and see what sticks.

Two things I like to do when I’m feeling an urge to write, but I’m not sure what I should write about is journal and write in a stream of consciousness. I will set up my ideal writing conditions, or as close as I can get in that moment, and then just write down whatever comes to mind. A lot of times that means that I’m writing about what I did that day, about an issue I’m worried about or just about a day’s activity that I want to remember. More often than not, my performative inner monologue takes over and I end up with a diary-like entry, updating some poor non-existent audience about the mundane-ness of my everyday life. So, this doesn’t always lead to an idea for a poem, short story, or blog post, but every once in a while, an idea that I’ve been storing somewhere in the back of my mind will surface.

Stream of consciousness writing is slightly different than what I just described. My journal-like writing inherently lends itself to pausing to remember an ultimately insignificant detail, and thus picking up my pen for a few seconds while doing so. But the idea behind stream of conscious writing is thoughts that you are constantly stringing together because they just so happen to come to mind in that moment. So, what I like to do differently in the cases which call for the unconscious is to set a timer for myself, five minutes for a beginner, or for just a short writing stint, but possibly up to half an hour, depending on how desperate I am to get some writing done. When I hit start, my pen DOES NOT stop moving until that timer goes off. If you like to listen to music while you write, like I do, make sure you’ve set up a good playlist because stopping to skip a song would mean picking up that pen.

If journaling or stream of conscious are not working for me, or aren’t your jam, I would then resort to using writing prompts to get that writer’s blood pumping. There are plenty of 30-day writing challenges for self-discovery that could be helpful either for yourself, or for a character that feels a little flat. I have found plenty on Pinterest, but an easy google search will work just as well for those of you who haven’t yet made your way to that beautiful red and white app. I have linked the writing prompts I have saved on Pinterest above in case you're looking for a good place to start!

At the end of the day, in my opinion, writing is writing, regardless of whether I wrote down a to-do list, a well-thought out text to my boyfriend, a self-check-in journal entry, or a full-blown blog draft. The important thing is that I did write something that day, and when the world is as crazy as it is now, I’ll take what I can get when my goal is to write at least once every day.

I hope that this post helps the next time you come up against writing resistance. Remember though, everyone has their own creative process and what works for me may not work for you, but as long as you’re open to trying new things, and recognizing when something is not working for you, you’ll be on your way to creating the rules and regulations for your own writing process.

Until next time—



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