When You’ve Run Out of Ideas

by | Posted April 21st, 2014

We all know that feeling of writer’s block. It sets in right around the 14th page of a required 15-page paper. Just when you’ve gotten to a great point in your short story or when that cursor is blinking on a completely blank screen. Writer’s block always sets in at the most inopportune time and can sometimes linger to the point where you’re not even sure you’ll have any more ideas. I have written for many different outlets ranging from business social media to creative writing, and sometimes I just feel like I won’t ever think of that next great tweet or short story.

What’s a writer to do? I’ve hit this wall plenty of times and sometimes it has led me to give up on a project completely. I don’t want that to happen to you, so over the years I’ve developed some ways to keep myself from getting completely off track, and I thought I would share them.


Source: The Collaborative Writer

Brainstorm. Write down anything and everything that comes to mind, you never know when a great idea will hit. Sometimes I will have the craziest dream that I know could be turned into a great short story, or I’m driving the hour-long ride home and I’ll think of an idea for something to blog about. I always have to have a pen and paper nearby so that I can write down anything and everything that comes to mind. Especially with dreams, they’re always vibrantly painted on the back of my eyelids when I wake up, but as the day goes on the details become fuzzier and fuzzier. So, I find it’s best to write everything down in as much detail as I can right when I wake up.

Talk it out. Throw around ideas with your friends or take your piece to the Writing Center just to talk about ideas. Sometimes a fresh perspective is exactly what you need. As a writer for a financial blog, I have gotten a lot of topic ideas just from talking to other students about what they want to know about financial education. Sometimes I get an idea I would have never thought of myself.

Read. I read all the time: articles, websites, news outlets, novels, and anything else that seems interesting. Reading will give you tons of ideas, maybe some you wouldn’t have ever thought of on your own. When I first started a social media position, I was having a really hard time thinking of different things to post. Suddenly I had to inform thousands of people about not only my organization, but also happenings in Greater Lansing. I was stumped. My first few posts were really vague, and didn’t have much to do with either of the things I was expected to post about. Then it hit me, I needed to read about Lansing in order to write about Lansing. So I started by googling the area and before I knew it, I had several sites off of which to get ideas. Where posting used to take me hours, I can now craft up several tweets in an hour.

Most importantly, don’t give up. If you think your piece has the potential, don’t stop writing it. Perseverance is important to doing anything great. First and foremost, you can’t give up on yourself. Beating that feeling of not having any more ideas is rough and sometimes it seems easier just to give in to writer’s block and give up, but never stop trying. Imagine what the world would be like if The Beatles or Steve Jobs gave up. It would be a really sad place. You could be creating the next great thing, so don’t give up.

Julia is a senior in the professional writing program. She is also a consultant at the writing center. She loves to read, write, and spend time with friends and family.