Suddenly, you have that empty feeling every writer dreads: writer’s block. Your once abundant imagination has left you with nothing but a few crumbs of ideas—and they’re all stale. What should you do when you’re trying to write a short story, but you can’t find the inspiration to get started? Don’t quit—try one of these suggestions instead!
What To Do When You’ve Run Out Of Ideas For Your Next Short Story
1. Draw on your own experiences!
Try writing a few short sketches about different personal anecdotes. Pick the one that inspires you most and turn it into a story. You can get creative and embellish real events for some fascinating fiction!
2. Use a writing prompt…
Writing prompts aren’t just for sleepy high school English classes! A good prompt can inspire a story-starting sentence, invoke some words to sprinkle throughout your writing, or lead to an unexpected scenario.
3. …or try a visual prompt!
Do you respond more to visual stimuli? Then try a photo prompt! Whether you or someone else creates the images you write about, visual prompts can jump-start your creativity.
Stream-of-consciousness freewriting activities can help unlock your mind. You can start with a prompt, or whatever thought pops into your head (including: I don’t know what to write about!), or even something or someone near you.
5. Use your favorite song or quote as inspiration!
6. Make an inside-out outline!
Sometimes, stories don’t come together in the order you expect! If you’re having trouble beginning a story, try to write an ending instead—and work backward from there.
7. Reinvent a famous scene!
Can’t come up with your own new idea? Springboard off someone else’s! Reimagine an already existing scene from literature or film in a new way—from a different character’s perspective, or during a different time period, etc. Be sure to follow copyright laws if you intend to publish your piece.
8. Eavesdrop or people watch!
Some of the best ideas come from overhearing or observing the people around you.
9. Write a story based on your last dream!
Maybe you don’t consciously have any story ideas—but your subconscious can be a gold mine. From the realistic to the absurdly fantastical, dreams can be a great source of inspiration—and it’s a tactic tried and true by many established authors!
10. Go outside!
Sometimes a change of scenery is all you need to get your creative juices flowing—let the beauty of nature inspire you. Whether you travel to an exotic destination or just walk around the block, venturing out into the world is sure to help even the most introverted writers.
11. Write about a historical event!
Search for inspiration in the past—a general time period or a particular event. Even if historical fiction isn’t your usual genre, transporting your mind to a different time period may help to unblock it.
12. Shake up your routine!
Do you usually write at night? Try waking up early to write as the sun rises. Do you typically write in your office? Instead, why not put pen to paper—or fingers onto keyboard—while sipping a latte in a cozy coffeehouse? Sometimes, all you need to beat writer’s block is a taste of something new!