Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Writer's Block: Photo Prompts

In last week's post I mentioned WRITER'S BLOCK as a writerly term. It's where you finally get a chance to sit and write, and--rats! No words can be coaxed from your brain onto the page or screen. I can't say as I've ever experienced it, since I start out a typical writing day going over what I've previously written, and that seems to be enough to get me in the swing of things. I also do some of the following:

Some Ways to Deal With Writer's Block
1. Spend your "off-hours" pondering what will happen next. In the shower. While washing dishes. Then by the time you're actually sitting in front of your journal/computer, you'll be chomping at the bit and prepared to write.
2. Outline your plot--at least roughly--so you know where you're going with your story.
3. At the end of a writing session, halt in the MIDDLE of a scene rather than at the end, so you have an easy start the next time.
4. Have a file or folder with Shiny New Ideas for the future, for when you finish a project and are ready to start a new one.
5. Do a writing exercise, such as writing a short scene in your character's point of view about something unrelated to your novel. Something in his/her past, perhaps.
6. Interview your characters and see what makes them tick. Knowing your characters better may help gain clues as to their motivations and future actions.
7. Do an image search online. Type in something like "cottage in a forest" or "sad girl" or "sci-fi city." Use a photo to inspire you.

How about this photo to get your writerly gears turning? [photo removed in 2012 due to potential copyright issues].

YOUR TURN
If you've ever experienced writer's block, how did you work yourself out of it?
Have you ever used a photo prompt to give you ideas for a story?
What kind of setting, character, or words come to your mind with the above photo?

30 comments:

  1. What I've found works for me is compiling a list of music for a book I'm working on and listening to it for a while before opening up my word document. It usually gets those creative juices flowing again by the time I get to the third song.

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  2. Interesting ideas for dealing with writers block, especially number 3. I've never thought of doing that.

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  3. I usually listen to different music and try to work on something. It doesn't have to be my WIP that I'm having issues with. I usually start something else and then it gets my creative juices flowing again. :)

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  4. Writing about why I'm stuck usually worked for me, or about why I wanted to write the novel in the first place. That photo makes me think fantasy or historical, with romance; maybe it's the supposedly secret spot where the lovers meet, only they get caught (of course).

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  5. I do the same thing you do, start out reading what I read the previous day. You might think it's funny but I get my best ideas in the shower. I'm a panster but an outline really helps.

    I love the picture. It's obviously an entrance into a magical world fluttering with fairies and the occasional leprechaun. Great post!

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  6. I listen to music, that also helps...

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  7. I find that reading often kicks me into gear. Sometimes I'll even pick up a novel I've already read (and loved) to read random passages. For whatever reason, this helps. Thanks for the other ideas.

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  8. I thought the picture looked similar to what Laila said. Another world where she meets a man who can't really be hers because he can't come through the portal, but she can only stay for a few hour at a time. I see a mission to find a way up ahead. ;)

    I do like you, I go over what I wrote the day before and that usually does the trick!

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  9. Cool picture and prompts. Summer is tricky. I have a harder time sittingin front of the computer.

    Life of Lois

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  10. I keep meaning to try the advice to stop halfway through a scene so I have any easy start the next day, but I tend to keep writing until I have nothing left. LOL.

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  11. Wow, that photo really is great fodder for the imagination!

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  12. Ooh, great writing tips. Usually the shower does it for me or a long drive with no music on.

    The above photo makes me think of a portal into a magical fantasy land.

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  13. Great suggestions, all. Outlining never works for me, but going out and doing stuff while I let the story percolate always does wonders. Lately I've also been getting into photo inspiration more and more. Especially paintings from the Renaissance, when my story's set.

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  14. Recently I had all the ideas, redid the outline...everything was there, but I didn't feel like writing. Sometimes the big idea of finishing a wip is overwhelming. So I wrote in spurts throughout the day, creating a bunch of mini goals that were achievable.

    I also switch between wips. I'm always working on two or three. When I do that, they feel less stale and I'm more eager to work on them.

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  15. I utilize #1 a lot. I've never thought of using images. What a great idea!!

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  16. I can't say that I've ever experienced writer's block, but I have experienced writer's procrastination. :) This is a great list of things to do in case you have it, and I'll bookmark it for future reference. I really like your idea for image searching, too. I've done that just for fun.

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  17. I'm never successful at stopping at the middle of the scene, but it's a good idea. And I LOVE thinking about my books in the shower, mowing the lawn, doing dishes, etc. I just need to hope I don't forget all the ideas then!
    erica

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  18. What an awesome photo! I take lots of photos for inspiration. I keep notes in lots of different journals too.

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  19. Great post! I can't really add to this, because you pretty much wrote down my usual list! Except the photo; never tried that! Good idea.

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  20. Great pic! I do #5 and 6. But honestly, I rarely get writer's block... I'm usually the opposite and can't turn it off. lol

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  21. I used all the method that you listed, and I haven't gotten writer block since I wrote my first book and came to a part where I couldn't write my characters out of a room. One important thing I've learned is sometimes writer's block happens because a scene isn't supposed to be there. The delete button can often time free you.

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  22. I like to combine two or three movie plots and see what would happen. Sometimes entire chapters open up and the writing just flows.

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  23. I have never used photo prompts but it is a great idea and this picture is such a great stimulant for ideas. Just breath taking!

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  24. Great list! It seems like I've tried most of these at one time or another. And if all else fails, if you stare at the screen long enough, something is bound to happen.:)

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  25. I never get writer's block in the middle of a manuscript (maybe that's because I write PBs of 800 words or less) I do, however, often feel "blocked" when I've finished a story and I want to start a new one. I have a hard time getting new ideas!

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  26. I suffer more from writer's distraction (social media) LOL
    I can't recall suffering from writers block... I can always find something to write about.. if I come to a dead end of feel a little lost ... I up and write some poetry or work on another project. ;)
    Great tips. xx

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  27. Carol,
    Thanks for stopping by my blog. You're an on-th-ball blogger. How do you do it all?

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  28. I usually go for a walk or play some music! ;-)

    Also, I'm so sorry - I missed your announcement of your agent! Congrats!! So very excited for you, you definitely worked hard for it! Well done. ;-)

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  29. I tend to wait it out. The more I poke at my obstinate muse, the more reticent she becomes. Annoying, but true.

    :-)

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  30. OH I love your ideas!! I'm not having issues now but can see them coming in another 20000 words. Great ideas,

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