Sunday, December 29, 2019

Jump-start your writing

As the year comes to an end, you might feel like the source of words that you draw on throughout the year is empty.

If you prefer finding your way to the holiday table and taking a break from writing, that’s fine. It’s good to rest and recharge, of course, and to think about what you might want to write in the year ahead.

It’s also good to take the end of the year to review what you’ve written over the past twelve months and to congratulate yourself for all the work that you’ve done, regardless of whether your words found their way into print.

If you want to keep writing but your mind is blank or you don’t know what to write, here are a few suggestions that might help you jump-start your writing. 

1. Explore Memories

Do you remember how it felt to spend time with your best friend in elementary school? Or the time you discovered a passion for something—reading or basketball or knitting or running—and you couldn’t wait to do it? Or when you were the last picked for the kickball team? You can write about these memories—the feel of a book in your hands as you sat reading as a child late into the night; the way it felt to finish your first ten mile run in high school; or how  you came to be friends with the girl sitting across the aisle from you in third grade. Your memories can serve as a rich source of material for you to explore further in the year ahead.

2. Express Gratitude

Sometimes we forget each breath that we inhale and exhale is a gift, each word a kind of miracle, each story filled with magic, and we fail to offer words of gratitude for all the blessings in our life. What if you stopped for a moment and made a list of all the things and people that you’re grateful for. How long would the list be? And who and what would you put on the list? Can you pick one thing, one person,  one blessing? Can you write about why you feel grateful for it? Can you write about how gratitude can change your perspective. And what it feels like to be grateful?

3. Place Yourself In the Moment

If you’re searching for words, for something to write, you might look up from your desk and take a look around you. Look! Really look at where you are now. Describe the room, or the forest, or the beach, or the interior of your office or the movie theater where you’re sitting at the moment or the boat or car. What do you see and hear and feel? Can you taste the breeze? Can you smell popcorn popping in the theater lobby? Each moment contains a wealth of details (for which we can be grateful). If you can stop and notice the details, you’ll find yourself with plenty to write about. The details themselves might not prove interesting, but once you begin writing, you never know what kind of story you’ll discover unfolding beneath your pen.

4. Face Your Fear

Everyone is afraid of something. What’s your biggest fear? What prevents you from doing what you want to do? Why are you afraid? Where does this fear come from? How can you face it so that eventually you can overcome it? One of my teachers once told me that the best writing comes only when we cross the yellow police tape stretched across our imagination and explore the region of our mind that we’ve been told is off-limits, forbidden, closed. Can you find the courage to cross the tape? Can you learn the truth of why you’re afraid? Most important, can you find a way to write about it?

5. Fall in Love 

Each of us experiences love in different ways. Some of us remember the love of a mother before she died of cancer. Others know the love of a brother or father or daughter or son. Maybe we know the love of a partner. Or perhaps our love expresses itself in kindness to animals—cats, dogs, horses, hamsters, whatever living thing you find yourself attracted to. Can you describe who or what you love? Can you explain why you feel so strongly about a person or an animal or an object or event? What is it that you love about it? Sometimes we just need to find out what we love… and what we think about what we love.

These are five possible ways to jump-start your writing at the end of the year (or any time of year, really). There are a gazillion other ways. (See the links below.) Just opening the newspaper each morning for some writers is all they need to get their pens moving across the page. 

What’s your favorite prompt? How do you deal with periods in your writing life when you don’t know what to write? Why don’t you drop us a line and let us know in the comments below so others can benefit from your experience and so we can all start the new year writing something wonderful.

As the year comes to an end, I’d like to thank everyone for following Wordswimmer’s posts over the past twelve months. I’m looking forward to 2020 and hope to hear from you about your successes finding words (sometimes where you least expect them) in the year ahead.

Happy New Year!

For more införmation on jump-starting your writing, visit: 

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