I am so excited to have the most excellent Miss Angelica Dawson with me here today. She’s a fellow Naughty Nights Press author. If you like what you read below, you can find more of her at Naughty Nights Press.
I have just come out of a very long writing slump. After going into a death spiral, I finally got my feet under me and wanted to jump back into writing. But I have the same problem almost every writer faces at one point or another. “What do I write about?” This is true of blog posts as well, and part of the reason I’m here.
I have been given a few prompts that are great for getting those first words on the page. The first, I bought at our local gaming store.
Rory’s Story Cubes are fantastic for building a plot or writing a flash piece. Each die has six sides and there are nine dice in a box. That’s 56 different images to spark ideas. They can be used in a multitude of ways. Writing a new short piece, you can roll a die every time you need a new direction. If you’re trying to start a new plot line, you can roll all nine and piece them together into three-act structure. The pictures can be interpreted in a myriad of ways. For instance, the axe could be a literal axe, it could represent someone getting fired, it could stand in place of another weapon. Perhaps it’s a craft or trade. I have run into trouble where my pictures ran together and laid things out a little too simplistically, but for a jumping off point, they rock!
Another great source is photos. Everyone has done this, seen something in the paper, a magazine, on TV and had it trigger an idea. However, when you get really blocked, you’ll look at a picture with the intention of writing and have absolutely nothing come to mind. I get that, especially when my source (mine is We Heart It) has hundreds of the same picture. All girls with long hair posing for the camera. The great part about the internet is the ability to search. So go for something different. Try a new site, or use a new search term/tag. For instance, when I scan the new photos, I’ll see something that catches my eye, out of the ordinary, like a senior couple. Bingo. I can search for seniors or grey hair or whatever. The story may not actually be about the couple. I might land on a picture of a man and his dog in the end, but it puts me in a new headspace.
Dictionary.com has their word of the day. This word isn’t always one you would like to use currently, or maybe it just seems a bit to pretentious. Well, there’s a thesaurus there as well! Find a word that does suit, or use that word in a search engine and see what hits you get.
The big thing I’ve discovered and has really helped me get my fingers back on my keyboard was this. Write a little every day. It doesn’t have to be for a WIP, it doesn’t have to be something that anyone else will ever read. You never have to look at those words again if you don’t want to (but I DO recommend saving them in case you change your mind!), just get the words and ideas moving. After several small pieces, you might find you have a few themes that are perfect for a new novel. Or you might discover the character that would be a perfect addition to a WIP. Today, my goal is 10 minutes of writing. That was what I promised myself when I came out of When Words Collide this year. You know what? I haven’t written less than twenty minutes any day since the first week and am now clocking over 1000 words a day. If you’re struggling and not finding prompts for yourself, feel free to email me for some suggestions.
Now, stop reading. Go find yourself a prompt and get at it. Share some of what you come up with in the comments. I’d love to know it’s working for someone else too!
Angelica Dawson is the author of Blue Moon House and it’s prequels, available from Naughty Nights Press.