April 27 is Tell a Story Day, a great time for writers at all levels to finally share the stories that they’ve been keeping to themselves. But, what if the story you want to tell isn’t quite ready for its debut?
We encourage you to find a different story to tell! How, you ask? Read on . . .
Famous writers approached their writing in different ways, but one commonality involved extracting stories from real life experiences. The characters and settings may have received some embellishment, but the premise of their stories mirrored what they experienced during their lives. Hemingway wrote about armed conflicts that he covered as a reporter, Faulkner brought to life the southern culture he remembered from the early portion of the 20th century, and Jane Austin vividly described the scenes of 18th century English society.
Although the ideas for their stories derived from real life experiences, famous writers had different ways of developing story ideas. Hemingway often talked about how he worked out story ideas on the go. Faulkner believed that “You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.” Only through pushing the boundaries was he able to develop complex story ideas. Austin took the power of observation to another level in the development of her story lines.
Novice writers often complain that their well of story ideas has run dry. They do not have to follow the lead of a famous writer to develop compelling story ideas. Instead, they can stimulate their own creative process by following a few writing tips.
Open Up to New Experiences
Experiencing different cultures, people, and places enriches the idea machine that often lies dormant within your mind. The more you diversify your experiences, the more fertile the idea machine becomes. Try different foods, travel to distant lands, and above all, read the works of authors who cover a wide variety of genres. Famous authors such as Hemingway and Faulkner mention how much reading helped them to develop story ideas. “Writing in the voice of me” helps writers expound on their expanded horizons.
Writers may represent the most self-critical professionals. The lack of story ideas can turn a once confident writer into someone who begins to limit his or her belief in the capacity to churn out creative story ideas. Writers need to acquire the patience to face the inevitable impasses that derail the story idea development process. Believe in yourself and your story ideas should flow like a graceful river.
Every Idea Counts
Instead of trying to focus on developing great story ideas, strive for quantity over quality. Entertain every story idea until the feasibility of the idea wanes. What appears to be a stupid story line today may be the next best selling story idea of tomorrow. Record all of your story ideas in a notebook or in a computer file and revisit each idea periodically to expand on its premise. Time does a wonderful job of forming some story ideas into powerful novels. Record every idea the moment it pops into your head. Once again, reading a wide variety of writing genres helps you generate story ideas.
Famous writers often defied writing convention to bring their unique ideas to life. They thought outside of the writing box by creating characters and developing story lines that appeared to have no chance of gaining popularity. Who would have thought the musings of an illiterate adolescent would make for a powerful story idea in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Obviously, Mark Twain did not follow the writing norm in creating his captivating main character.
Walk a Mile or Two in Your Shoes
The writing process can stagnate whenever you stare blankly at your computer screen and silently curse your current state of writer’s block. You can shake writer’s block and stimulate story ideas by working story lines out as you walk. Too many novice writers sit down and immediately expect story ideas to pop in their heads. Famous writers such as Hemingway walked until they developed the foundation for a story idea. Once you develop the structure of your story idea, the words should fly from your fingertips whenever you decide to sit down to write the story.
Remember that, at times, even the most polished writers have trouble developing ideas for interesting stories. What differentiates them from the novice writer is that they implement strategies to set their creative wheels in motion. Follow the examples set by famous writers and open yourself up to new experiences; entertaining every idea you think of; avoid convention; eliminate self-doubt; and if all else fails, take a walk! You’ll be writing again in no time.
What is your best strategy to counteract writer’s block? Share in the comments!