What to write when you are completely stuck

Disclaimer: I wished this to be a comprehensive, helpful, enlightening blog post to guide other bloggers to ways to get out of a writing rut/vault over writer’s block/get productive writing-wise. Instead this is a rant cum musing and it doesn’t help that the post has no headings or sub headings to help you skim.

This post title is so me. I face this conundrum every 3.5 weeks of active blogging. What to write about? Without further-ado, let’s take this head-on.

Do a recee: I hop over to the blog categories to recap which topics I write about most often and which ones do well. When I am stuck, there’s nothing better to do than the tested-and-tried.

Take a different angle: So I know which posts attract more readers. I try a different angle to these topics. Some of my book reviews do really well. So, I write a more detailed post on one of the aspects of that book, either focussing on the plot or the characters. Or even do a post on the various book covers a classic book has had ever since it was published. Or the fan-fiction it has spawned. Or the social changes it pointed to. You get my point.

Experiment with formats: Most of my posts are a fixed length. There is a switch in my mind that flips when that word count is reached. I intuitively know it’s time to wrap up. However, I change that consciously just to bring newness to my posts. I post a picture with a short caption a la Instagram. I write a funny piece. I write a listicle. I write a serious, longish, how-to-do post. On occasion, I have written posts with a bunch of pictures showing a journey or a walk in the neighborhood.

Write a book: Whaaaat, weren’t we talking blog posts? Those few months when I had no time or the mental space to write, I decided not to let weeds grow on my blog. I committed to writing one post a week, in the form of a listicle. A year later, I collated those listicles to publish an ebook. Later, when I got another writing block, I decided the subject of my next book. That gave me the impetus to start researching and writing shorter posts around the topic of my book.

Copy your heroes: There is the curious case of a writer who loves to type out the books of his favourite authors. What a waste of time? Not really. I don’t copy my favourite book verbatim but each book has a special element, each author has his own voice. Identify that unique quality. It could be the length of the sentences, a particular mood or visual imagery. I try to recreate that in my own writing. I may only write little pieces that way but it helps to get started. Also, I have used those little snippets as a starting point for other stories. This helps me the next time I feel stuck.

Prompts: There’s something about writing prompts that screams ‘forced’ to me. I used to be petrified of them to the point of avoiding them completely. But in the end, I made them work for me. I channelise my rebellion to write the opposite of what the prompt offers. If the prompt is about the mountains; I write about the sea. If the prompt is about something dead serious, I infuse humour in my story. If the prompt is about what’s outside my window, I write a story of the things on my desk.

Talk to the people in your head: I do that when the people in my life don’t want to listen to my ramblings. There are situations where I thought of a retort seven minutes too late. There are things I read where I want to give my two cents. There are the theories which I am sure would change the world when properly implemented. I write them all. It makes me feel better and in the end I can always crumple up the paper and throw it away. But yes, it gets me started on the writing path again.

What are your tips to looking for topics when you don’t know what to write?
P.S. If you can, please answer this existential question: if we can’t think of what to write, why don’t we just let it be??

I am taking my blog to the next level with Blogchatter’s #MyFriendAlexa campaign.

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38 thoughts on “What to write when you are completely stuck

  1. I’m going to attempt adding my 2 cents to the existential question (of course). I think we (as in writers) can’t let it be, or just be, because by design we’re restless and the only time we feel at rest or at peace is when we’re writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m going to attempt adding my 2 cents to the existential question (of course). I think we (as in writers) can’t let it be, or just be, because by design we’re restless and the only time we feel at rest or at peace is when we’re writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely and informative article
    I am trying to write a book but the flow is not coming, hope I get some ideas following your tips.
    I had written a similar post on writing hope you like it.
    #PraGunReads #MyFriendAlexa

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The best topic for that scenario is to write about your ongoing feeling under the title: How it feels when you don’t know what to write?
    Regarding the existential question, the answer is very simple: it hurts one’s ego. Acceptance of defeat is a very unsettling feeling for the most.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your reply to the existential question is spot on, Ravish. Being lost, not knowing the next step can be so demotivating because it hurts our sense of competence.

      Yes, I’ll try to write what’s going on in my mind the next time I am stuck for words 🙂

      Like

  5. We are explorers at heart, finding the new world, exploring the oceans, jetting off into the vast expanse of Space. So of course, we can’t just let anything be can we? We write because we must; as we explore because we must!
    Love the tips, need them desperately, I’m always stuck for things to write about.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Nice tips. Writer’s block is a reality. Everyone has to find his / her way to get around the problem when ink seems to dry up in the pen. Ideas of doing things differently is like kick starting a vehicle that is stuck. A little spark here and little spark there may keep the vehicle moving.

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  7. Nice tips, Sona. I am going to try them. It is amazing to know a book coming out of Writer’s block. Wow!
    I do write often and when am stuck, I go for brain dump because I get so many parallel ideas for the same plot, character and prompt that I get stuck.

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  8. Well, my two cents to this post are – Thank you 🙂
    i think if i am able to implement even one of the elements that you have mentioned, it would make me a much better blogger. I always gain a lot reading your posts. Be the guiding light for novice bloggers like me 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your two cents 😄
      I can only share a few of the things that work for me. I think your own blog posts are very well written and you are rather regular in posting. I should be the one asking you for advice.

      Like

  9. When I first tried my hands on prompt based writing, I loved it. It forces you to think out of the box. I have written many fiction stories following a prompt. Prompt based writing is my favorite among all. Sometimes, I even save a few images (while I am looking for a featured image for my posts) for future writing.

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  10. Sometimes I get so stuck about what to write, in fact, nothing comes in my mind, then I started writing why comes in my heart, my last post was on that only… Sometimes it’s the ongoing feeling which is good to express in words, though your ideas are also good, I too tried that

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  11. I loved your take on prompts. Just like you… Prompts give me a feeling of forced writing too. Your idea is so unique because there can be many things which can be opposite to that Prompt. And when one starts churning their creative wheel to find the opposite of it… the flow of writing starts.
    #readbypreetispanorama for #MyFriendAlexa

    Like

  12. love the idea of following the prompts that always comes as saviour for me too. That’s an intriguing read, Loved the post and your unique writing style.

    Like

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