Bethany Roberts' Writing for Children Workshop: Creativity and the Muse

Childrens Writing...

Children's Writers Workshop

(or Coaxing Your Creativity)
quill pen divider line

First of all, I never use the word "writer's block.  That's much too negative!  I am looking for ideas, or waiting for inspiration, or am "on the hunt."  But yes, there are times when I don't seem to have a creative thought in my head.  This list is for those times.  Some of these ideas are my own, tried and true, and some are from other writers.  Just keep trying different methods until something clicks for you and your imagination is off and running again.
Learn your creative peaks.  If you know that you are a night person- or a morning person- schedule your writing times during those hours. Try to notice when your creativity flows.  I generally am more creative at night; I usually do my creative writing during the afternoon or evening, and my editing and revising during the day.
Keep a journal.  Some writers find great ideas from their journals.  I just find that it keeps the pages friendly!
Keep a notepad and pen by your bed, and take paper and pencil with you wherever you go.  You never know when you will get a good idea.  I often get ideas just as I am falling asleep.  Creativity is a slippery thing!  If I don't take the time to write it down, by morning I will have forgotten it.
Mundane activities.  Put an idea in the back of your head to mull over, and then go ahead and take a short break doing mundane tasks.  Wash the dishes, take a shower, drive, or garden.  I often find that's when my mind works best, and my creativity flows.  (By the way, when I get an idea while I'm driving, I  wait for the next red light, or  pull over and scribble it down!)
Physical exercise.  Lots of writers swear by this one.  Take a walk or go biking or use that treadmill that's been gathering dust.  So many ideas may pop into your head that you'll be ready to write when you get done.
Idea folder (or box or index file.)  This is what I do with all those little scraps of paper I scribble on at stop lights and by my bedside.  Sometimes the idea is just a few words, a piece of dialogue, a picture or a newspaper clipping.  I just stuff them into a folder to browse through on idea-less days.
What if...?  Take a character and a situation, and ask "what if..."  Then see where your creativity takes you.
Non-stop writing.  Get loosened up by writing for ten minutes -on anything!- just don't stop, and don't worry about spelling or punctuation or getting the words exactly right.  Sometimes it helps to give yourself a topic like "I remember..."
Read for inspiration.  I love this one!  If I can't write, I can always read.  And eventually my mind will start turning, I'll start thinking of things that I would like to write about, and the next think I know, I'm writing again.
Write anything, just as a warm-up.  Catch up on your letter-writing, or write in that journal.  Sometimes all your creativity needs is a warm up.
Re-write.   I take out an old manuscript that I haven't looked at in a long time.  Sometimes I stay with it; sometimes I end up leaving it after awhile and writing something new.  Either way, I'm writing.  This also works well when I working on something with chapters.  Fix up some of the earlier chapters, and then flow into the next!  Some writers purposefully stop writing mid-chapter or mid-sentence to help them get started the next day.
Music.  I like things quiet myself, but some writers like music in the background.  I hear Bach is good for creativity!
Same time, same place, same station.  Some writers work best with a routine, always working the same hours and in the same place.  Know yourself- do you work better with or without routine?
Close your eyes and visualize a scene.  Good when you are in the middle of something and the dialogue or description are lacking.
Brainstorming: word associations and lists.  This one is a favorite of mine.  If I have a topic, I brainstorm a list of everything I can think of about that topic before I start writing.
Brainstorming:  titles or first lines.  Another favorite of mine.  I especially like to play with alliteration and rhyme.  
Start anywhere.  Don't get locked up trying to start at the beginning.  Start in the middle or at the end if that's where your imagination is taking you.
Get away from it all.  Sometimes a change of scenery or a talk with a friend is all it takes to get your mind refreshed and  your creativity going again.
Write something different.  Put the difficult manuscript away, and work on something else for awhile.  When you get back to it- hours, days, months later, you may find that you have a fresh way of looking at it.
Observe.  Go where there are people- playgrounds, subways, the mall- and observe.  You may find a character for your book!
Research.  If you don't have anything to write about, learn something new.  Even fiction can benefit from some good research.
Goals. Some writers find that self-imposed dead-lines prod them into productivity.  Or give yourself a goal of a certain number of words or pages- or a chapter or a poem.
Relax, put your feet up, and have fun.  Tell yourself that no one has to ever see this but you.
Seize the creative moment!  When the muse strikes, drop everything and write!


 Home Childrens
A to Z
for Writers