Every author dreads that inevitable torture of not knowing what to write next. It happens to all of us, some more often than others, but it happens nonetheless. When our minds go blank, and we don't have ideas, we're left with one thought: what now?
It's difficult to know how to write a book when you don't have ideas. After all, ideas are our source of fuel. Without them, we can't write. Or can we?
Want to learn how to write a book from start to finish? Check out How to Write a Book: The Complete Guide.
When You Don't Have Ideas, Write Anyway
Here's a secret I've learned: no writer is ever truly stuck. Sure, a particular scene could feel stagnant or you might hesitate for longer than you'd like about what to type next, but unless a physical object sits on your keyboard, writer's block is a myth. You can always write, even if all that comes out is gibberish, even if each sentence is the same (“I don't know what to write. I don't know what to write. I don't know what to write.”). It still counts.
So write anyway. Keep your fingers moving at all costs. Spelling and grammar don't matter right now and neither does anything else. What you write doesn't matter so long as you're writing. If you keep up the habit, the ideas will come later.
And if they don't come?
Seek Out Ideas
Another myth about writers is that inspiration strikes them without any warning, like a flying object to the back of the head. Sure, Harry Potter might have waltzed into J.K. Rowling's mind fully-formed, but the rest of us are rarely so lucky. Ideas are shy and elusive creatures. When something nibbles at the edges of our imagination, we have to coax the rest of it into existence.
Go looking for inspiration. It lurks in your favorite books, on a walk with your dog, in the shower as you sing a familiar tune. You can even borrow ideas that have already been used by others: take a fairytale or a story from history and give it a twist. Ask yourself “what if . . .?” and let a thought take form.
A thousand writers can tell you how to write a book, but only you can decide what it's about. Don't wait around; take the initiative.
When All Else Fails . . .
Remember that creative slumps are normal. Schedules fill up and we get out of our usual habits. No matter how hard we try, how many different techniques we employ, there are some things that are out of our control. What we can control is our attitude and our efforts. All that matters is that we do our best to sit down every day and type something new.
What do you do to find new ideas? How do you deal with creative slumps? Let me know in the comments!
Freewrite for fifteen minutes.
Don't look for writing prompts and don't censor yourself. Simply write until your time is up, doing your best to keep your fingers moving. What ideas come to you as you go? How does it feel to write without much thought or direction?
When you're finished, share your work in the comments, if you wish. Don't forget to give your fellow writers some love, too!