In the midst of writing 3 books, client articles, numerous posts, I sometimes lose track of what it is that I should be writing about for my own profile. I read to replenish all the juice that is flowing out.
But there are dry spells. Sometimes they last days, others times weeks. But as a writer, by calling and by profession, I really can’t use that as an excuse to not put pen to paper. So over the last 2 decades or so, I have developed a few tactics for writing when I don’t know what to write about.
Embrace the vacuum
Now this isn’t some philosophical mumbo jumbo. On an average I write around 3000 words a day. Then they are proof read, edited and published or sent to clients. So it’s not unnatural that when it comes to writing for myself, I draw a blank.
I keep writing prompts handy. My writing prompts are at 50 right now. It’s a small document. I keep editing it time and again.
Some of the choicest ones that I keep going back to are:
- And then-
- It was beyond-
- About three quarters-
- Is it true? –
- My new theory –
And then, I keep writing whatever flows out of me then. I don’t judge or edit or try to make sense of it. I just write.
Develop thought prompts
In the last 7 months I have written 80,000 words. This is published content. At any point in time, I have a document open on my laptop, titled “Extra”. These are those sentences or paragraphs that didn’t find space in the final piece. They were edited out.
I call those the thought prompts.
My extra document is at 27,996 words today, and one of the excerpts reads like this-
One study from the University of California-Santa Barbara found that when men and women spoke, men were responsible for 47 out of 48 interruptions. Another study from Brigham Young University and Princeton found that men took up 75 percent of the discussion in meetings on average, and that women women participated less, they had a smaller impact on group decisions. When you experience that on a daily basis in your work meetings, it’s easy to come to believe your contributions are less valuable.
These prompt me into thinking along these lines. I start writing about how diversity doesn’t mean inclusion. And how inclusion doesn’t mean acceptance (at least not yet anyway).
The learning here is that once it’s written don’t erase it. It comes in handy elsewhere.
Phone a friend!
This last one is my favourite method yet. I call up my business partner. She gives me a word or a topic and I shoot off into space.
When you are a writer and want to become a better one, you don’t not write.
You take writing very very very seriously and you write till you feel the need to read again.