Any writer can point you to notebook on notebook of half-baked ideas and aborted plot lines that once showed promise but quickly lost steam. It’s a writer’s badge of honour and source of shame; we have all of these great ideas, but so few see their way to completion. I have countless journals spanning a decade and a half full of partially formed concepts and wild ramblings and I will admit, some of those ideas were downright atrocious. Some, though, have a degree merit and now that I am a few years removed from the initial concept, the ideas actually seem like a wonderful jumping-off point. I will promise that almost, if not all, of these ideas will never go farther than simple writing exercises but they are worth revisiting regardless.
Every writer takes a break between drafts – it helps to look at something with fresh eyes. It’s also why we have that brutally honest friend/ relative/ editor with the angry red pen look over our work. Fresh eyes make all the difference. If we can see something in a completely new light just by working through first and second drafts, why wouldn’t we be able to gain inspiration from ideas that previously ran into dead ends?
Writer’s block hits us all at inopportune times; when we want to write most is the exact moment that our creative minds go out to lunch. Next time this happens, visit some of your old notebooks or some abandoned stories on your hard drive. Take a look at these bits and drabbles and figure out why you thought the original concept deserved expansion. See what went right and what went wrong, then take the idea and write it down on a fresh sheet of paper (or in a new Word document) and see where it takes you. It will get you writing and maybe push you toward your next big idea.
I dealt with writer’s block for about six months this year (check the gap in my posts for an idea of the time frame) and have finally come out the other side. It took a lot of work and a lot of frustration (not to mention self-doubt) but I am here writing and that’s what is important. The stuff I have written recently has not been my best work – far from it, actually – but revisiting my past successes and failures and reviewing some of the things that didn’t work has helped me to get back on the horse, so to speak.
I hope this is helpful to some of my fellow writers. Good luck and never stop carrying your handy-dandy notebooks!