10 Simple Steps

by limebirdlaura

It’s the perfect setting. You’ve got a steaming cup of coffee to your right, filling the room with the most amazing fragrance. The sun is filtering in through the window providing the perfect lighting. The birds outside sound cheerful as they flutter by. You breathe in such wonderful fresh air. The world is perfect.

You turn to your computer, the blank screen is smiling at you, ready for your words to fill it. Your fingers hover over the keyboard, poised and …

Oh no, the writer’s block sets in. What happened? Didn’t you have so many things to say just a few seconds ago?

Fret not dear reader, don’t weep for your words to return, for surely that will drive them away even more. Instead, have a go at a few small writing challenges to see if your words return to you. If not, maybe you’ll get a nugget of an idea for a different story/script/poem/grocery list/tweet/rock opera/letter to the editor…you know, whatever it is  you’re working on.

10 simple steps to combat writer’s block:

1. What would you do if you knew you only had 24 hours to live?

2. Write a 10 page maximum short story/screenplay using these specifications: Genre – Mystery, Location – A pizza place, Character – A banker.

3. Spin the plot generator at the Script Frenzy website, and write a short story from the results. For instance, I’ve just come up with: En route to a llama resort, a muscle-bound juggler tries to break into pro Sumo wrestling.

4. You have 5 minutes to write a short romantic comedy – Go!

5. What is your greatest fear? Write a short piece as if you’ve had to face this fear.

6. Insert one of your favorite fictional characters into another fictional setting and write a short piece about it. For instance, Darth Vader suddenly finds himself headmaster of Hogwarts. That can’t be good for anyone…

7. Write for 25 minutes without stopping, using these specifications: Genre – Science Fiction, Subject – A trap, Character: A crazy cat lady.

8. Write a short 10-15 page story placing the protagonist of your current work in progress into an established literary setting. Send them to Narnia to fight the White Witch. Have them join the X-Men. District 9 needs a new tribute for the Hunger Games, and I think your protagonist is perfect for the job. Does someone need to have an epic battle with Godzilla? I think your protagonist does. Yes they do. Don’t fight with me, they do! Get to it. Chop chop!

9. War. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing. But what does your main character do if they suddenly find themselves in a war torn countryside?

10.You’ve got 5 minutes. Write about the first thing you remember about your childhood. Was it your mom and dad yelling at you about sticking gum in Snuggle Bear’s mouth? How did that make you feel? Pretty darn rotten I’d think. Sort of along the lines of, “Hey, you told me to always share, and I just wanted to share my gum with Snuggle Bear!”

So, are your creative juices flowing again? Or are you huddled in the corner out of fear and insanity after having read this list? I’m leaning toward the latter myself, after coming up with this list.

Well, if your writer’s block isn’t gone after following these 10 simple steps, then the only thing left to do is grab that warm cup of coffee and fling it at the birds fluttering by so happily outside your window.*

Have you ever used writing prompts to combat downtime while the writer’s block controls your brain? Have they ever turned into full fledged projects, or just frustrated you even more? 

*Limebird Writers do not actually condone violence against the happy birds outside your window. If, in fact, the writer’s block is getting the best of you perhaps it’s best to just get up and walk away for a bit, and leave the poor fluttering birds alone.


37 Comments to “10 Simple Steps”

  1. Laura, this was a wonderful kickstart to my day. You had me laughing with some of these. I love your prompts; they’re outrageous and fun, and I think they’d get anyone to start writing again!

    I have to say, I don’t really suffer from writer’s block (don’t throw your coffee at me, please! 🙂 ) At least not in the sense of having no words come.

    When I get stuck, it usually centers around which path I need to take my novel when I come to a crossroads of sorts. I could spend hours on a choice my character needs to make. That’s when I stand up, step away from the computer, and start walking in circles through my house, thinking out loud, trying to sort out the differences. For me, thinking out loud (talking to myself) is the best mode of pushing myself through that sticky place.

    I’m glad you added the disclaimer at the bottom. We Limebirds don’t want to be accused of violence to our counterparts 🙂

    • I do that too! Talking to myself. Sometimes I’ll read something that has me stuck out loud then start asking questions and stuff trying to figure out what would happen next. Either we’re not crazy because we’re not alone… or we are crazy, but at least we’re not alone 😉

      I didn’t want any birds harmed in the making of this blog post 😀

  2. Ha! Some of these sound like fun! I’ve been considering finding a project for one day a week for our blog. Fabulous!

    • Some of them are things I’ve done (the Character, location, subject suggestions), I think they can be fun too! Thanks for the comment 🙂

  3. Oh I can never do these things. xD Prompts never work for me, and I find myself less inclined to write something that isn’t a story. Even writing passages from future novel ideas is a bit daunting, so… yeah, I’ll most probably go and huddle in the corner with you.

  4. Those are some great tips. Writing prompts are a great way to get the creative juices flowing. I’ve got another one for you.

    In the spirit of H.G. Well’s “The Time Machine,” one character or a group of characters travel many years into the future. What do they find there? Are they able to come back home, or are they trapped? What has become of mankind? Is life better or worse? What’s the political climate? The real climate? (IOW mother nature) The choices are up to you.

    That’s the writing prompt to our short story writing challenge. If you’re interested see our site for details.


  5. This list made me laugh, but I have to say that some of them could be interesting. I have used a writing exercise before to help combat writers block. I altered it just a bit and it became a chapter in my current work.

    • The Script Frenzy plot generator can be a bit silly, but sometimes a part of what it comes up with will spark an idea. That’s great that you were able to use an exercise against writer’s block in your current work 😀

  6. Those pesky birds! What are they so happy about before the sun even comes up?

    • You’ve got that right! I hear them out there now singing away, so cheerful… my coffee hasn’t even hit my system yet 😀

  7. Funny post about a not-funny topic 🙂

    • Thank you Shannon! Some of the suggestions are a bit out there but sometimes I think it can be fun to just think of something completely ridiculous to write about.

  8. I often (not much in the last few weeks!) take part in a Drabble challenge – which is another 100 word story challenge. This one gives just one word as the prompt.

    Last year, one of the prompts was Edge and I knocked off the following that afternoon:
    Carine traversed the cold black corridors of the old quarter. Mother Fay’s words had proved to be true; a whisper of air still remained.

    She reached the end and, yes, there was a single ancient escape suit plugged into the wall. Backing into it, she felt the suit wrap around her. Breathing against the glass of the helmet, the displays flickered on.

    Carine walked up to the wall and it dissolved. Stepping through, she felt a stirring within the nascent wings of the suit.

    Standing on the edge, she looked at the bright blue world so far below.

    Smiling, Carine jumped.

    One day, at a loose end, I was looking for a story idea and came back to the 100 word piece on Carine. The expanded piece came in at 2,600 words, was a finalist in SFSA’s Nova 2011 competition, and is going to be in Itch Magazine this month!

    So now, whenever I am stuck for something to write, I either knock off a 100 word piece (and save it in case I want to expand it later) or I go to my folder and see if any of my previous 100-worders inspire me.

    • What a wonderful piece Dennis! Oh and such good news about how it ended up. Congratulations on having it published!

  9. I’m totally with Limebird Dennis! I love using smaller prompts – like the 100-Word Challenge for Grown-Ups – to kickstart my creative juices. Luckily (or, sometimes unluckily, for my novel), these prompts come every week. My only issue is that I can find myself becoming drawn more into my mini-stories than I do for my novel.

    I also find that switching medium helps. If you usually write on computer, try writing longhand, or vice versa. If you like to draw, pick up your sketching pencil and just let your hand flow. It can work wonders!

    Great list, though, Laura! Even if some of them did scare me away a little bit…! 😀

    • Switching mediums is definitely a good way to go. Sometimes I’d almost prefer to write by hand because it’s easy for me to become distracted (oh curse you solitaire!!) but then after so long of handwriting something I always think I’m wasting time because the process could be going faster on a computer. Though now that I think about it…not with that pesky solitaire waiting for me. lol 😀

  10. When writing poetry I sometimes look at photos and try to write a poem about the photo. Also I once wrote a poem by opening the dictionary and choosing to write using the first word my eyes lit on (turned out to be “stalking horse”.

  11. Loved the list, and especially the Darth Vader one. I can hear it now…”Harryyyy (heavy breath) I am your faaaather.”

    • Bahahahahaha! Now I’m trying to figure out who would win a fight between Lord Voldemort and Darth Vader.. Voldey is quick on the avada kedavra…but Vader does have a sweet lightsaber. Oh I know, Neville will step in and take them both down! hehehe.

  12. The weird mix inside me includes a total lack of writer’s block experiences… my fingers always seem to find a way forward. Should I have writer’s block talking on writer’s block?

  13. Love 6 and 8! I might have to try those. To borrow an idea from Char’s WordPress blog, “Joy in the Moments,” zombies work, too. I tried it once, and it really helped!

  14. Haha – this made me laugh and it was the perfect thing to read before writing. Funny, I am in fact sitting in front of a window with sunlight streaming through, there are chirping birds and my coffee is right next to me…but I promise to leave the birds alone ;p

  15. I’ve used prompts to get me thinking about how to creatively write my life stories. I know many prompts are meant for fiction, but they can be used to put an interesting twist to memoir, too. 🙂

    • I’m glad you pointed that out! I know sometimes it’s easy to think how a fictional character has or will act but then coming up with personal things can get a bit sticky sometimes.

  16. One of my favourite solutions is to start the new page like this:
    Oh no! I have to start writing something about llamas (or whatever). I’ll never do it. What is there to say about llamas? Medium sized woolly things that live in the Andes.Which is where I first met X…and then I’m usually OK. The point is to get the whining out of the way. Then the writing will come.

    • I love that! I do stuff like that too, or doodle on the page for a few minutes just to sort of relax my brain or something, tell it to shut up and focus!

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