Some have a phobia of wide, open spaces.
I have a fear of a wide, open screen. You know, with no words on it. It gloats, as if proving what you've always suspected - that you have nothing worthy to say or to write. It's a pernicious, self-fulfilling prophecy.
No inspiration means no writing which is evidence of not being a writer. Or a "real" writer. And it's not a pleasant place to be. Most writers I'm sure, have visited that place. But they don’t live there. I guess they wouldn't be writers if they did!
Others have generously contributed their no-inspiration busting moves in the comments on the previous post. I'll add my own:
- When I have to be ruthless and cut a section or a character from a WIP, I don’t see it as "killing my darlings". Thanks to the magic of word processing, it's easy to cut and paste them to a new document. I'm not killing them, just relocating. So when I get the blank-screen blues, I just visit my old darlings. Sometimes they still have a tale worth telling, and I play with them, and let them tell me their stories.
- A story in the newspaper can send me down the what-if path. Sometimes, I can get a few hundred words from it.
- I have to reframe the dilemma. Not adding to my WIP does not mean "not writing". Sometimes I can hit a dead-end with a WIP. Leaving it to rest for a few days means that I can return to it with a fresh mind. On those days, I start something new. Maybe the new story works, maybe it doesn't.
- Having a deadline certainly forces the creativity to start again. Sadly, a self-imposed deadline doesn't work, because I know it's a fake. But I've been entering competitions recently. All have a rule stipulating that no late entries will be accepted. I've never tested that rule! It's amazing how a new plot-turn or (even better) a resolution will present itself when there's a sense of desperation biting at my heels. Thank you very much, adrenaline rush!
- If I really have no idea what to do with my WIP, I just put two of my characters alone in room together, and let them fight it out. Even if they're best friends/ confidants/ allies, just putting them in an irritable mood (why are they irritable?) and giving them something to disagree about (what?) usually reveals things about them I hadn't previously known. How do they resolve the conflict? Who backs down first? Who's actually right? Do they have old grudges? Suddenly, I have a number of leads to follow -more than I need - each of which will take the story in a new direction, with fresh energy. Ah, conflict!
- Finally, I need to remember that time is not an infinite resource. We have precious little of it. I was sadly reminded of this about three weeks ago, following the passing of one of my friends. We went through Uni together. He was about a month older than I. He managed to accomplish many things in his life. I never knew all of his ambitions, but I know that there was a major one he left unfulfilled. Maybe he believed his time was unlimited, too, and that he'd "get around to it one day". I will think of him whenever I'm tempted to leave something undone.