Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Ten Sites for Combating Writer’s Block

“You don’t build a story, you allow it to explode.” - Ray Bradbury.

Allowing a story to explode is great when the juices are flowing. But what do you do on those occasions with the explosion fizzles and inspiration is needed to rekindle the flame? What happens when you are unable to write an article or blog because your muse has chosen a most inopportune time to take a leave of absence? Are there days you stare into space making demands on your imagination only to have your brain refuse to participate in the exercise? Or, have ever looked at your computer screen and discovered you have typed “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” two hundred and sixty three times?

Speaking as someone that has suffered from all the above afflictions at one time or another, I’ve compiled a list of ten sites (in no particular order) that had helpful, unique and interesting ideas or prompts:

Creativity Portal has beautiful photos offering excellent visual prompts. They also have a list of other resources for blogging and writing ideas.

The list of 25 Unique Places to Find Story Ideas on suggests TV guide listings, the yellow pages and even browsing through a card shop.

An article on lists five useful ways to come up with ideas such as combining two of your favorite stories to come up with a third. Their example used Pride and Prejudice combined with Clan of the Cave Bear.

How to generate hundreds of writing ideas on Daily Writing Tips suggests setting a timer for five minutes and jotting down as many ideas as you can.

How to come up with new ideas on HubPages advises reading forums and message boards as the questions people ask can spark new ideas.

Zen Power Writing 15 tips on how to generate ideas and write with ease on Write to Done offers the idea of meditating five minutes before starting to write.

300 Writing Topics on divide ideas into sections such as narrating, comparing and describing.

In The Big Time Attic Blog there’s a suggestion to randomize by selecting a Pictionary card or opening to a random page in a dictionary or novel.

On Grammar Girl, Story Ideas and writers block is an interesting post dividing ideas for non-fiction and fiction. My favorite fiction idea recommends reading Twitter posts.

Though the article 50 Places to shop for story ideas on Reporting Resources is geared towards journalists, there are good general ideas for writing prompts such as eavesdropping in the grocery line or reading the classified ads.

What method(s) do you use to combat writer’s block? Do you know of other sites that have helpful advice for generating ideas?

Thanks for stopping by.

Tags: Bradbury, writing prompts, writer’s block, generating ideas, Twitter, Pictionary,


Helen Ginger said...

What great sites you've listed. I'm going to check them out.

Usually, letting my mind relax helps. Some of my best ideas have come just before falling asleep or in a dream. I used to keep a pen and lighted pad by my bed. Walking helps too.


Sally Crawford said...

I second the fall asleep and let the ideas come through on their own.

Wow, what a way to work . . .


Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Thanks, Helen. I find walking does wonders also!

I try to do the sleep thing, Sally - but sometimes I find the ideas that come in dreams make no sense in the morning!

Anonymous said...

Wow, Jane - what a value packed post! Thanks for all those links - I've got them stored and I'm sure Ill find good use for them.

I usually keep at least three ms's in progress. That way if I get stumped on where to go on one I've most always got another story I'm hot with ideas on. Often a life experience, or reading of experiences, will present ideas for me to get the "stumped" ms jump started and rolling along again.

Excellent post today.

Bob Sanchez said...

An excellent list, Jane! Thanks for the post. The ideas and topics are truly all around us, just waiting to be used.


Lynnette Labelle said...


Thanks for the sites. I'm going to check them out. You never know when one of these babies will come in handy.

Lynnette Labelle

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Will check those out! I knew about The Creativy Portal - think one of my articles is still posted at that site.

I still believe in the power of an outline to combat writer's block, though!

L. Diane Wolfe

Lisa Logan said...

Like Marvin said, I typically have multiple MS's going at once. But sometimes NONE of them will open the door of insight to allow me a peek inside.

I find this often happens to me when a character is hiding something. Sometimes they need a stern talking to, or I have to do a bit of detective work behind their back to find out what's going on. heh.

I've also used dream programming for years to free up ideas, like Helen and Sally mentioned. I focus on the problem, "run through" the scenes just prior in my mind before bed, and let my brain work on it while I sleep. Sometimes I actually dream an answer; other times the work is done in the background and inspiration comes to me the following day.


Anonymous said...

Photo prompts are useful for illustrators as well as writers. We use them as springboards to sketch "what happens next" exercises.

Jane's Ride - Novelist Jane Kennedy Sutton's journey through the ups and downs of the writing, publishing and marketing world