All posts by Alexis

How to Write When You’ve Exhausted All Your Options

Write even when it feels like you can’t.

No matter if you’ve been writing for years or today is your very first day attempting to write your story, getting started can be… difficult, the say the least. Even endlessly experienced writers face a blank page and an equally blank mind occasionally.

Don’t worry. It’s completely normal.

I’ve written plenty of posts before on getting started, fighting writer’s block, and give you monthly posts of writing prompts to help make it as easy as possible for you to get started.

But sometimes, no matter how many writing prompts you file away for a rainy day, no matter how many stories you have going at one time, no matter how many Pinterest boards of writing prompts you follow, it can still be a struggle to fill a blank page with words.

So today, I’m sharing a few ways you can find the motivation and inspiration you need to get writing, even if you’ve already spent an hour browsing prompts on Pinterest.

Don’t worry, I do it too. 🙂

Engage With Other Stories

This is my most common problem and it’s gotten to the point where I can tell when I need to get my head out of my own stories and deep into somebody else’s.

Whenever this happens, I’ll take an afternoon and binge watch a tv show. I’ll watch a movie with my husband, something familiar that I know I love. I’ll pay attention to the story and play around with it in my head. I’ll binge read a novel or a short story and marvel at the way the author uses words or allusion or description.

I also won’t go anywhere near my current WIP or look at any writing prompts. I use this to simply allow my brain to engage and immerse me in another story, another person’s characters, setting, and plot.

Sometimes, when the blank page just won’t fill, all we need to do is be inspired by another story. So if you’re feeling like nothing you write is quite right, take a break, step away for 24 hours, and go engage with another story.

Engage With People

I find that I get into modes of writing where that is my supreme focus. All my thought energy, all my mental awareness is wrapped up in whatever I’m currently writing. I find it hard to remove myself from whatever story I’m in the middle of.

Oftentimes during these phases, my friends and family end up taking a bit of the back burner.

If I’ve found myself at odds with the blank page and engaging with stories isn’t helping as much as I’d like it to, that’s my cue to get my head out of my story and back in the real world for a time.

I’ll grab a friend for coffee, visit the zoo, Skype friends far away, go outside and take a hike. I’ll take a yoga class, do a round of tennis, anything to get my engaging with friends and talking about things that aren’t writing. I’ll check in with their lives, see what they’ve been up to, what they’re thinking about or feeling or struggling with.

And let’s be honest, I still talk about writing with my friends. But by checking in with my favorite people, I find the time to not only engage with them, but I engage back with myself.

And ultimately that helps me write even better.

Engage With Wellbeing

I think I can speak for most writers when I say that writing is a sedentary lifestyle. We’re normally typing away at our computers or scribbling away in a notebook and while both are amazing for creating rich stories, they’re not so good for our health.

Especially if sitting is the new smoking, then it’s even more important for writers to get moving frequently! None of us want to be the writer who dies before finishing their epic fantasy series.

I often feel as if I need to take advantage of every free moment I have to write or work on something related to writing. This self-pressure is unhealthy in a lot of ways, but a major one is I end up sitting at my desk for the majority of the day and forget to go outside or move.

So if you’re feeling sluggish and like your story isn’t moving anywhere, stand up and stretch. Do ten minutes of yoga. Run up and down your stairs. Turn on your favorite bouncy music and have an impromptu solo dance party. Take a twenty-minute walk around your neighborhood. Stop by a drop-in yoga or spin class.

Just get out of your normal environment and get moving. When you come back to your screen or your notebook, you’ll inevitably feel better.

Just Write Something

Sometimes the biggest thing standing in our way in ourselves.

Sometimes, the thing you really need to do to get the juices flowing again is to just write.

Something. Anything.

It can be “I have no idea what I’m doing and I’m only writing because Alexis from the Lexicon Writing Blog told me to in that one blog post.”. And that’s ok! Just write what you’re thinking, what your frustrations are, what you have for lunch, how you feel about what you had for lunch, the weird thing your cat did or the funny thing your kid said or the way your partner looked at you when you forgot to pick up chicken for dinner. Write about the little things until your story starts flowing from your fingers again.

It will happen. I promise.

Cheers!

How to Improve Even If You Don’t Write Everyday

Engage with your WIP even if you can't write every day with these tips and practices.

You’ll see me say this over and over again: the more you write, the more you’ll improve. I encourage writing every day because writing is a lot like working out, eating healthy, or self-care: Consistency is key. As long you can get to your computer to write every day, even for five minutes, you’ll be helping your writing by leaps and bounds.

But I get it. Writing every single day can be really hard, especially when you have vacations, balancing schedules of kids and spouses, seeing family and friends, and other commitments to balance. Finding five minutes to brush your teeth can be hard!

But the rule still applies: consistency is key.

So you can’t write every day. Can you write five days a week? Three days? Four hours every Saturday?

That’s still golden! You’re still writing, getting yourself in front of your stories, and making yourself a better writer as you go along.

However, even if you don’t write every day, it’s imperative that you still engage with your writing every single day, even if you don’t write or edit.

Today, I’m going into a few ways you can still engage with your writing, your technique, and your creativity every day, even if you can’t sit down in front of your computer.

Read

Duh. I don’t need to tell you this but here it is. Because aside from writing, this is the most important thing you can do. The more you read, the better your writing will be. The better your stories will flow, the more depth your characters will possess, the more dynamic and alive your setting will feel. Because you’ll be taking in someone else’s understanding of words, you’ll be broadening your own.

Listen

Get off your phone! Put it in your pocket or purse and just listen to what’s happening around you. Whether you’re waiting to pick up your kids, waiting to meet a friend at a coffee shop, waiting in line at the doctor’s office, don’t just zone out on Candy Crush. Listen to conversations, sounds the espresso machine makes, the click and clack of heels on linoleum. Listen and file those sounds away. You’re writing will flourish once you can add in that additional sensory piece of what your characters are hearing as they move through their story.

Carry a Notebook With You

I say this a lot too because I can’t stress its importance enough. Carry a notebook with you everywhere. I have a few different ones: on my nightstand, in my purse, on my desk at work. They don’t need to be big, I just use these little composition notebooks and just leave them wherever I think I might need them. Whenever inspiration strikes, I can write it down, rather than forgetting it. Whenever I hear something that I have to include in my next story, I write it down. Whenever I see something or taste something or experience something that I know needs to appear in a story, I’ll write it down.

Seriously. Get thyself some notebooks.

Get Back to Daydreaming

When was the last time you sat and let your mind wander? I can probably count on one hand how many times I’ve let myself do this since this year, but every time I do it’s so so so good. By letting your brain daydream, you’re opening yourself up to ideas and stories, even if all you’re imagining is that your boss comes into your office and miraculously grants you a raise. They’ll still help your brain work its creative muscles which will come in handy when you sit down to write.

Think About Your Story…A Lot

Let yourself think about your WIP often. You don’t need to go writing anything down the minute it pops into your brain and you don’t need to restrict yourself to thinking about it only when you’re ready to write. Let yourself dwell on your story, your characters, their motivations, their journey’s. Think about what it must feel like to live where they live, see what they see, eat what they eat. The more you think about it, the more it’ll flow from your fingers when you sit down to write.

Keep Your Inspiration Close By

What inspired you to write this story in the first place? Was it a piece of artwork? A prompt? Something you overheard in conversation? A personal experience? A photograph?

Whatever it is that inspired you, keep it close. Right now I’m writing a story based on a piece of artwork so I have that art piece propped up next to my computer and saved as a lock screen on my phone. I see it all.the.time. It helps me remember why I’m writing this story in the first place, why I love it, and it automatically allows me to take a quick two-second jaunt into the world of my story so my brain can keep the story gears turning.

Observe Stories in Your Daily Life

Whether it’s in books, newspapers, magazines, tv shows, movies, even pamphlets, there are stories everywhere and we engage with them every single day. Begin to notice how the authors tell those stories. What information do they withhold from the very end? What do they tell the reader right off the bat? What are the characters like? How does the story become believable and beloved? Become a student of good stories and your writing will automatically get better.

I hope these tips help! You can still improve your writing even if you don’t physically write every single day. Take heart and know your story will always be waiting for you, even if you can only meet it once a week.

Cheers!

 



Summer Travel Writing Prompts

Get writing this month with prompts all about summer travel. Test your writing skills and get better every day!

On the first Monday of every month, I create a few writing prompts to help you get writing! You’ll see them here each month and on Instagram @thelexiconwritingblog every Monday.

July is here and that means summer! My husband and I, along with some of our best friends took a trip to Southern Oregon a few weeks ago for a bit of relax time and it was so rejuvenating and inspiring. This month’s writing prompts are inspired by summer travel. Continue Reading

Best Posts for Plotting and Outlining Your WIP

One of the requests I get most frequently is “Help! I have no idea how to plot out my story!”

I hear you.

For the longest time, whenever I got a new story idea, I would end up writing a haphazard, messy outline. This outline never did much to help me and I ended up dropping several story ideas from poor plotting on my part.

Today, I thought I’d share a roundup of my favorite posts on plotting and outlining. These posts will help you know where your story is going, what you need to do to get your characters wherever they need to go, and give you peace of mind…so you’re not running around like a chicken with her head cut off trying to remember which land your characters need to go to to save the world from an evil overlord. Continue Reading

How to Add Depth to Your Story

Use these four elements to add depth to your story.

Have you ever read a story that felt thin? Like there wasn’t enough character development or the world wasn’t quite believable, or you had unanswered questions about the minor characters? I have and they’re so disappointing. The story feels incomplete, unfulfilling, and flat.

Readers will pick up your story to be engaged in a new world with new characters experiences, something to draw them out of their actual life. The more details in the story, the more immersed and committed your reader will be. The more invested they’ll be in your characters, your plot, and your world. Continue Reading