When the brain just isn’t up to it, and the words don’t come at all, let alone flow . . . you have to do something about it.
Which involves a certain amount of belly button gazing, right when you’re least able to do it. Because first you have to figure out why.
So, let’s check the usual suspects . . . getting enough sleep, eating right . . .
OK, OK, we know them all and what to do. You’re just . . . tired of this . . . stuff.
Well, why don’t you take a mental vacation?
Free as a bird.
Write something silly, utterly ridiculous, that you’ll never, ever publish.
Ha! Take your favorite characters and throw them into the mirror image world. That’s right, give Spock a wicked goatee and mustache and drop his best friend in to see what he’s up to.
It’s amazingly fun, all the potential that made him or her a hero, twisted around into a massively competent villain. C’mon, envision that turning point when he chose the light. Throw your inhibitions to the winds and see what would have happened if he’d turned to the dark.
Don’t worry! No one’s ever going to see this unless you want to amuse your Beta Readers. And if your back brain is shocked and appalled, and refuses to make him really evil, all the better. Write his redemption in society’s and his friends’ eyes and you may have something you can actually publish.
No? You couldn’t do it?
Okay, go trawling through Pixabay and find a pretty picture and design a killer cover around it. Go on, think up a title, the silliest—or most stuck-up—pen name you can think of. Slap them on there. Then add all sorts of lighting effects. Are you thinking up a story for it yet? Better go back and change that pen name and claim it for your own!
No? All right, not enough mental vacation.
Turn on the radio. Invent a character who’s singing that song. Is she a spy, undercover as a musician? Or is he really Elvis, back from Arcturus and missing the music here? Or is the singer about to be murdered? Why? By whom? How? What sort of person is going to investigate?
You don’t like starting with characters, and having to find a story?
All right. The six basic story types. (1) Boy meets girl (2) Sin and redemption (3) Betrayal and revenge (4) Impersonation (5) Quest (6) Overcoming high odds.
Grab a dice. Roll it. That’s the basic plot, roll it two times more for the types of subplots. Oooo! I got sin and redemption, with impersonation and boy meets girl. Try it, see what you get.
No? Your brain is playing hard to get, let’s try this: https://www.theyfightcrime.org/ which give you random mixes along the lines of “He’s a benighted overambitious inventor on the hunt for the last specimen of a great and near-mythical creature. She’s a sarcastic Buddhist Hell’s Angel in the wrong place at the wrong time. They fight crime!”
If you can’t get silly with one of those I’m going to have to go back to analyzing your sleep and dietary habits!
Still nothing? Play solitaire. When you’re done, how many families do you have, with how many children? How many kings or queens never married. How many young jacks are out there, breaking ten’s hearts?
Oh, man, your brain really has quit, hasn’t it?
OK, writing prompts. Six words at random from the dictionary. You must use all six on the first page. Then keep writing.
Seriously though there really are times when writing just can’t happen. Do not stress out about it. Relax and concentrate on what needs to be done in real life. The writing will happen again.
Because with a baby and a toddler you’re exhausted and only time will change that particular problem. But time will change that.
Or see if your meds are causing the problem. Or lack of meds (Synthroid is your friend!)
Or you should try lo-carb, no matter what your family eats. Ha! As if that would last!
Stress? That’s a biggie. Family issues, money woes, big stress. Some, only time will cure, some need all your time right now. Most need energy to deal with and leave nothing for writing.
One of my big stress coping mechanisms was an imaginary place. I’d take a brief mental break now and then, day dream away my tenseness planning on who lived in my magic village . . . witches, mages, a few gods, a retired evil wizard . . . This was pure escapism, and maintained my sanity until the kids were old enough for school and I could both write and take a part-time telecommute job.
. . . but be careful if you try this, you might end up writing it!
Here’s what happened to my Magic Village: