You’ve hit that point. You know, that point where the wheels are grinding and nothing is coming out of it.
You’re tapped for ideas. You sit at the keyboard vaguely hitting letters, but nothing is forming together into anything worthwhile.
It’s been 20 minutes now and you’ve accomplished nothing. Frustration begins to set in, you’re one minute away from closing the laptop and giving up.
You decided to work your way through your writer’s block. But that block is big.
It’s too damn big. Now, it’s kicking your butt and you’re about to give up.
We’ve all been here. Everyone who’s taken up writing as a profession or past time has hit this point. That point where all ideas are exhausted and you don’t know what to write about.
I’m sure at this moment if there was a cure for this dead spot in your idea generation machine, you would be willing to pay for it.
Luckily for you, I’m going to give away the cure for free. Well, at least it’s a cure for me. If it doesn’t do a thing for you — no refunds. What do you expect for free?
Stop making that face. I know what you’re thinking. Writing in a journal is what a teenage girl does in between reading her Twilight books.
Journal writing is what adults do…..in between reading their copies of Twilight.
Seriously, getting a journal and writing every day is an incredibly powerful tool. Many greats have written in a journal every day, there’s nothing strange about it.
For instance: Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Mark Twain, Charles Darwin, Thomas Edison, and Leonardo Da Vinci were all journal writers.
One of the greatest works of literature that’s lasted through the ages is Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. This journal that was written before 200 AD is still read widely today.
- Why should I write in a journal?
First and foremost, this gets you in a habit of writing your thoughts down daily. This is good practice for a writer who wants to be consistent.
Second, this is an idea generating tool. Pull the thoughts out of your head and put them on paper. Once you start generating ideas, these build into others and so on. This is also good practice for generating content and ideas consistently.
Finally, once your ideas are on paper, they’re reviewable. When you hit a time when you’re low on material to write about, surf through your journal. Think of it as mining for ideas. Skim through the pages and see if anything worthwhile is hiding in there waiting to star in your next piece of writing.
I’m just focusing on writing and creativity right now. But journals are also a great way to know yourself as well.
- What should I write in a journal?
There’s one appropriate answer to that question.
Anything you want!
Yes, you heard me, there can be multiple formats. One person’s journal may look like a diary and just consist of daily experiences. My journal focuses on luck. I mainly do it because I thought I was the most unlucky person on the planet. I search for little pieces of luck in my life and I never cease to find examples of it. Plus, in searching for luck, I find ideas on things to write about.
I do have a few suggestions though. Namely, write every day. Yes, every day. It must be a consistent habit. Also, it doesn’t have to be a long habit. I write for 11 minutes a day and so far it’s generating lots of ideas. You may say you don’t have 11 free minutes, but if you did, you’d be lying. I’m sure you can find 10 to 11 free minutes in your day to write.
Another piece of advice for the journal is to put future ideas for the journal in the upper left header. When you finish the journal for today, date the journal for tomorrow on the next page. Then, transfer the ideas you wrote in today’s upper left header into tomorrow’s upper left header. This way when you start, there’s no scrabbling for ideas, just start writing. I have a picture of this up above.
This little habit will also give you a little bit of commitment to write for the next day.
In order to start a fire, you need fuel to burn. The same goes in generating ideas to write about. You’ll need to consume some material first to formulate ideas. Whether it be, books, video, or audio, bring some medium with ideas into your life regularly.
Now in the header I said consume material ‘actively.’ This doesn’t mean that you sit in front of the TV with glazed eyes and zone out. By consume actively, I mean you’re taking note of things as you read, view, or listen.
In many instances it may pay for you to actually take literal notes as you review something. If you’re reading a physical book, this could be a pain in the ass. Having a notebook open next to a book as you read takes joy out of reading for me. However, I still do it. There’s a secret to do it simply and easily.
That secret is Kindle. You may prefer a physical book over a tablet (I originally did), but the Kindle gives you an amazing tool for making note taking easy. You can just highlight an interesting section with your finger. Once this is done, the Kindle saves this highlighted section in a note file called “clippings”
As you can see above, I quickly scrolled to a clipping from a highlighted section I read in 2016. No notebook necessary next to the book as I read. Just a quick swipe of my finger and it was saved away. This option also gives you the ability to review your notes from a book once you’re done. This is an excellent way to review what you’ve read and reinforce some of the ideas of that particular book. It also makes life easier if you want to pick up a book again a year later to revisit what you thought was relevant.
Another good way to consume material is podcasts. These can be listened to in your car on the way to work, on a treadmill, or any possible downtime you have where you’re not completely actively engaged. The podcast can also be replayed over and over in case you want to revisit something for note taking purposes.
There are an unlimited variety of podcasts on various subjects. You can find just about anything you’re into and they’re generally long form. So, you’ll get in depth content on the subject you’re interested in.
My podcasts of choice are:
- The Jordan Harbinger Show (various subjects — self-improvement)
- Joe Rogan Podcast (various subjects)
- Hardcore History (history — obviously)
- After On (technology)
These podcasts I’ve listed above cover a number of thought provoking subjects and often do interviews with interesting decision makers and authors. Just by actively listening to these shows, you’ll get ideas for things to write about. I do frequently.
In the anthropological website, Sapiens, Patrick Nunn tells the story of the oral tradition of an Aboriginal people in Australia. These people have a story they’ve handed down between generations about an ancient hunt. This hunt was after a long extinct giant bird in a land where volcanoes were erupting. It turns out this was more than just a story, anthropologists think it was true. They date the story between five to ten thousand years old.
Human beings have a rich tradition of storytelling. Long before there was writing, there was oral tradition of handing down stories to the masses. Just about every culture had some kind of story that was handed down. Even Jesus taught in parables — stories. Most people enjoy telling stories as well.
I have a theory that everyone on the planet has at least one good story in them. If you need an idea for something to write about, reveal your story. Who can tell it better than you? Let’s say you did this and only have that one story in you. Who are you surrounded by?
Other people………..other people with stories
Just about everywhere you look, you’ll see another person. They have at least one story within them too. How many countless stories is that for you get ideas from?
Rishi Sharma is an epic example of sharing others’ stories. As a young teenager (about 14) he wanted to be a marine. So, he read as much as he could about the military, in particular WWII. He got his hands on a book about a war hero and learned the man was alive. Rishi called him and he actually answered and spoke to Rishi.
A thought came to Rishi’s mind, all of these veterans from this war were getting old and passing away. Most of these vets had never had their story told, and they were easily accessible. He rode his bike to the local nursing home and began talking to WWII vets and recording their stories. Soon people were recommending other vets to Rishi, so they could tell their stories as well. This effort grew and grew, now he’s 18 and has interviewed approximately 260 vets and let them tell their stories. His website is worth a look.
Now, obviously, you don’t have to go to that extreme. But, you’re surrounded by countless people with countless stories. Why not make those stories work for you and tell someone else’s story?
Once I decided I wanted to start writing frequently, I needed a way to put together material quickly and in quantity. I got myself a cheap notebook and instantly I was able to increase my writing volume. The purpose of this notebook isn’t to write a rough draft — although, you can do that. Its whole purpose is just for jotting down ideas for a future story.
When I get an idea from some of the methods I’ve listed previously, I break out the idea notebook. I just jot down a few points of what I want to write about, then I move on. As I get more ideas about this future story, I list them down as well. I don’t need to write paragraphs, just a few bullet points here and there. I can extrapolate a story from these.
I can also do several stories when the inspiration hits. I just need main points, so I can relive my thought process when I’m ready to write. I keep this notebook in my bedroom so I can jot down notes after I wake up. I also find that ideas flow to me after taking a shower, so having the notebook nearby in the bedroom generally turns out well. If this sounds ridiculous, it shouldn’t.
In an article in the Boston Globe, an associate professor of neuroscience, Mark Fenske, says, “shampooing hair and lathering up doesn’t take a lot of cognitive focus…other parts of the brain can start to contribute.’’ Often these sections of the brain can be working on problems in the background and the distraction of doing routine monotonous activity can bring them to the forefront. The background parts of the brain can bring solutions or ideas with them that may have been previously unattainable.
There’s also a company that makes a waterproof notepad in case you can’t wait until you get to your idea notebook.
Your cell phone is an excellent way to take quick notes when your little bits of genius slip in as well. Just about every smartphone has a memo function.
I’m by no means an expert. I’ve had really mixed results in all my writing efforts so far, some good things and some bad things. However, I’ve written about 40 stories since July and I haven’t even come close to exhausting myself of material.
Generally my journal, the world of stories, or active consuming leads to my idea notebook. All I really need is a few main ideas in bullet point format and I can put together a story. I listed the journal first, because that’s what really pushed me into writing again. Many other things don’t exactly have to be in order. Obviously, the idea notebook would be a good idea to be the last listed, because it’s my final step between formulating and writing.
So far, the only thing that’s slowing me down is limited time to write. I use everything above I’ve mentioned and so far it hasn’t let me down yet. I’ve never had to try and figure out an idea of what I was going to write about. I also have at least 2 or 3 things in my idea book to pick from at almost all times.
Hopefully these hints will help someone along whose hit a wall. Good luck and don’t bring your idea notebook in the shower with you, people might think you’re weird.
Thank you for reading my ramblings. If you enjoyed what you’ve read, please share.
What to write when you don't know what to write about? ›
- Write about your struggles. You may not feel very inspiring but people are often inspired by you just showing up and it's even more powerful when they know you're struggling to be there. ...
- Write about your experiences. ...
- Write about what gets you through the hard times. ...
- Share Your Thoughts.
Quote by Mark Twain: “Write what you know.”What are 10 things to write about? ›
- Favorite foods.
- Favorite tv shows.
- Favorite form of entertainment.
- Favorite book.
- Favorite video games.
- Favorite games and/or board games.
- Favorite childhood memory.
- Favorite season.
- Find the Best References Quickly and Easily. ...
- Use Reliable Sources. ...
- Get Your Footing. ...
- Lay the Groundwork. ...
- Dig a Bit Deeper. ...
- Keep Things Need-to-Know. ...
- Explain it in Relational Terms.
“There is no friend as loyal as a book.”What is the main message of the author? ›
An author's message is the "big idea" of the text or a part of the text. It is what the author wants the reader to learn or take away from reading the text. There may be more than one message in a text. A life lesson: The moral, or lesson, that stories like fables are trying to teach readers.What did Ernest Hemingway say about writing? ›
1. I learned never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it. 2. If a writer knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows.What is a random topic to talk about? ›
- What's your favorite TV show?
- What's your favorite movie?
- What's your favorite book?
- What's your favorite music genre?
- What's your favorite band?
- What are you doing this weekend?
- Where did you go on vacation last year?
- Do you like to cook or bake?
Chat about your past experiences if you want to open up to the other person. If you feel comfortable with the other person, you may ask about their past or what they want to do in the future. Ask them about funny things that happened to them, what their family is like, or goals they have.What is the most famous line of all time? ›
- “ May the Force be with you.” - Star Wars, 1977.
- “ There's no place like home.” - The Wizard of Oz, 1939.
- “ I'm the king of the world!” - ...
- “ Carpe diem. ...
- “ Elementary, my dear Watson.” - ...
- “ It's alive! ...
- “ My mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. ...
- “ I'll be back.” -
What is Hemingway's moral code? ›
If man cannot accept a life or reward after death, the emphasis must then be on obtaining or doing or performing something in this particular life. If death ends all activity, if death ends all knowledge and consciousness, man must seek his reward here, now, immediately.What is the main point of the message? ›
The subject of the message may be a person, a place, an event, a product, or so on; and the main point is the focus or central idea about that subject.What's the message of the story? ›
A story's message, or theme, is what the author wants to teach you through his or her writing. Some stories have a specific kind of message called a moral, or a life lesson. You can find the message of a story by looking at the characters' actions and focusing on what is repeated throughout the story.What is the main message? ›
The main message, which should be one or two sentences, forms the main idea that you wish to convey in your report. It also creates a reference point for organizing your entire report.What was the best writing advice Hemingway received? ›
Every day go back to the beginning and rewrite the whole thing and when it gets too long, read at least two or three chapters before you start to write and at least once a week go back to the start. That way you make it one piece. And when you go over it, cut out everything you can.What did Hemingway say about death? ›
What Did Hemingway Say About Death? Hemingway actually wrote a lot about death and feeling alive, but one of his most famous quotes on the subject is this: “Every man's life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.”What did Ernest Hemingway believe in? ›
While raised by devout Christian parents, Hemingway converted to Catholicism at the age of twenty-eight for marriage and proved religiously indifferent throughout his lifetime, despite a preoccupation with biblical themes in many of his works (Johnson).What are some good ideas to write about? ›
- A popular story with an updated setting. ...
- Your greatest fantasy, come true. ...
- Speculation about an event in your future. ...
- Something from a creative writing prompt. ...
- A conversation, rewritten the way you wish it went.
If you have no experience you can point to in your resume, highlight your education, include relevant non-work experience, list your skills, and include a summary. Get started by using a template.What to write when you are bored? ›
- Write about a movie you just saw. ...
- Think about somewhere you'd like to travel to and write a story about it.
- Write about the first thing you see when you look out your window.
- Try to remember your earliest childhood memory. ...
- Remember a time you felt really embarrassed.
What to write in anything else we should know? ›
- Summarize your strengths and accomplishments. ...
- Reiterate your interest in the position. ...
- Clarify your previous answers. ...
- Show examples of your work. ...
- End with a follow-up question.
- Adapt a story from real life. ...
- Adapt the plot of a fairy tale or folk legend. ...
- Create a character based on someone you know. ...
- Write about a moment in your own life. ...
- Analyze the plot of a book you admire.
Top 10 Story Ideas
A middle-aged woman discovers a ghost. A woman who is deeply in love is crushed when her fiancé breaks up with her. A talented young man's deepest fear is holding his life back. A poor young boy or girl comes into an unexpected fortune.
- Use your life as inspiration. Your life is unique, as are your specific experiences. ...
- Plan your character development. ...
- Outline your main plot points. ...
- Change the context. ...
- Cross genres.
You may have never had a job, but think about your other relevant experiences that you can list on your resume. These experiences may include participation in school clubs, extracurricular activities or volunteer work. You might even have performed informal work, such as babysitting or mowing lawns.How do I tell my self I have no experience? ›
- Talk about who you are. Before answering this question, it's essential to figure out where to begin your response. ...
- Highlight your previous accomplishments. ...
- Explain your current situation.
The idea is to use real events or experiences as fodder for your story. Be bold and change places, time frames, personalities involved, point of views, key events, or even the outcome. It can also be a helpful exercise to write a factual account of an experience and then rewrite it as a fictionalized account.How do I start writing for fun? ›
- Write with the help of a writing prompt. ...
- Illustrate your writing. ...
- Tell a story. ...
- Write, write, write. ...
- Write about something new. ...
- Get inspired by others. ...
- Re-write previous works. ...
- Write about what you enjoy.
- Choose active voice and vivid verbs. Passive voice, or leaving the subject out of the sentence, makes it look like you are trying to avoid responsibility. ...
- Choose precise words. ...
- Choose concise phrasing. ...
- Choose simple words. ...
- Choose appropriate words.
You can mention unique technical skills/hard skills, soft skills, key personality traits, experiences, personal attributes, or any other factor that makes you an exceptional candidate… and different from other job seekers You could also mention a reason that you're passionate about this industry/work, if that's true.
What should we write in Tell me about yourself? ›
Your answer to the "tell me about yourself" question should describe your current situation, your past job experience, the reason you're a good fit for the role, and how you align with the company values. Tell the interviewer about your current position and a recent big accomplishment or positive feedback you received.