Daily Writing (And More Ways to Defeat Writer's Block)
Disclaimer: I'm not a published author or anything. Just take this as an informal opinion piece lol
The Gist of It
Writing is hard. Sure, sometimes inspiration strikes, and you can crank out several hundred words in an hour about that flashy new idea that struck you like a stray radioactive particle, but much of the time you're trudging along half-willingly with nothing new to show. This could be for short stories, or it could be for that novel you're working on, or it could be for anything, really, but any kind of writing project eventually gets to a point where you find yourself reluctant to continue. And that's fine. Personally, I have gone through several such ruts while working on my WIP novel Sailor for the Second Dusk (previews will be coming soon in the "Cluster" section of this website), and no one is expected to coast perfectly smoothly through any large project. Unless you're Brandon Sanderson, cranking out, like, four full-length novels a year. But he probably sometimes gets stuck too. However, recently I have found some ways to help get past these so-called "writing blocks," and also improve my writing skill along the way.
Practice Makes Better
Practice makes better. I know that sounds cliché, but you really do have to constantly practice to improve. Write every day, and read every day, and make it a habit. Okay, everyone knows that. So what's the key, then? For me, it's daily writing prompts. Every day, I try to find a prompt to write about, usually by asking my friends or by looking online. Once I find a suitable prompt——emphasis on "suitable," and not just something I want——I give myself between twenty minutes and half an hour to write. In this time, I remove all distractions except for my Walkman or iPod, since I am genuinely incapable of artistic expression without music. The point is, give yourself that time if you can, and make sure you use that time. No scrolling through your phone, no breaking your train of thought. In those twenty to thirty minutes, I let my consciousness flow onto the page (or digital document), without worrying about the quality of my writing or editing. It's much like any other kind of writing in that regard, just a lot faster. Do this once a day, every one or two days, and you'll start to feel yourself get better very quickly. Even if that feeling is a delusion, don't worry, You're still practicing.
Don't know where to start? Try this: write about someone going to great lengths to return an unwanted gift. There's a lot of ways you can take this. Maybe you could write about a kid stealing an airplane to return an unwanted present to Santa at the north pole. Or you could talk about someone attempting to repair their friendship with someone else by taking a road trip to return a gift that ruined their relationship. Or, in my case, I was inspired to flesh out the arc of one of my novel's characters, who joined the navy of the setting's interstellar empire after the fall of her mother's void kingdom, only to unknowingly steal a magical artifact from an insurgency, and gain the power that the rebels used.
All of that sounds really complicated. And of course, you have no obligation to finish your daily prompt writing within the time limit. It's a productive practice session, not a scheduled stress inducer. However, if you feel like continuing your prompt, then by all means do! Even if it doesn't become anything bigger, it's always good for any writer to have a bunch of small pieces at the side to draw from for bigger projects, or to develop into bigger projects. In the end, you're only benefitting from this activity. If you feel like you just haven't been able to write anything, then why not try a timed prompt?
Go and Steal Some Shit
I'm not advocating for crime. I would, but legally I can't. However, I do advocate for constantly keeping up with writing from various other authors on a regular basis. If you want to write well, read a lot. Read different genres and different writers, as different as you can get, and also what you like and are interested in. If you can't do that, then watch shows and movies when you have the time. Just dabble in any form of creative writing related media you can find, instead of scrolling through social media or anything like that. You'll get inspiration. "But then I'll be copying them!" You might say, with visions of originality and grandeur shining in your mind. But in the end, no story is original. It's just in how you tell it. Think of any general plotline, and somebody has done that, probably way back when the tower of Babylon still stood. I mean, my own novel is basically Star Wars but weirder and based on medieval Eastern cultures. However, it is in the way you tell your story, that originality is still very much achievable. So if you're short on ideas, just steal all you want from the stuff you read and consume, and spin it up to your liking. You could even use your own life experiences to spice up your stories. And that leads me to my next and final point.
Go Out and Do Shit
Writing is inherently an activity that requires life experience. You simply cannot write as well about something you have never had real life experience with, as you can with something you've personally gone through. You can read and watch all the guides you want, play all the games and take all the notes about certain things, but nothing can substitute experience. So go and experience things. Live life. There's a whole world out there, full of places to go and people to meet, full of sweet and sour and pain and pleasure. You are but a speck among eight billion, so who cares about your petty obligations and lazy excuses? If you can, live life as anyone could, and live it to the fullest. And along the way, you'll pick up plenty of memories and experiences, which you can then pour into your stories and bring them to vivid life. The best fight scenes come from arguments with your roommate. The best kiss scenes come from the embrace of your significant other(s). The best worldbuilding comes from your own travels. And the best sex scenes——okay, who am I kidding. We writers never get any. We're too busy writing. But yeah, go and live life. Close this tab (bookmark it first though!), turn off your screen, and go out into the bright sunlight or pouring rain (or just your living room if you live somewhere particularly inhospitable). Get that damn inspiration. You got this.