Blank Screen, Blinking Cursor


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Photo by Dane Deaner on Unsplash

Every morning, I wake up and tell myself, “Today I am going to write.” Then, my mind goes completely blank. Yesterday, my mind was flooded with ideas, but today it has caved in. Slowly, I begin excavating my thoughts for a suitable idea. As I explore the recesses of my mind, a thought emerges. I grasp that thought and follow it deeper into the cave.

Free association is one way I find an idea for the day. By starting with the first thought that comes to mind and following my thoughts to the next, I am usually able to create an idea that I think will work. When I was a teacher, I used to tell my students who were having trouble writing to use this same method–to think about their interests, their experiences, their current thoughts–to discover ideas for journal entries and pieces.

A variation of free association is free writing. I keep a writing journal and use it to record ideas. When I’m looking for an idea, freewriting can help me relax and explore. I look at one of the ideas in my journal and write in long-hand until I hone the idea into something I can use. Some studies suggest that writing in longhand stimulates different parts of the brain than typing on the computer.

When I’m struggling for an idea, writing prompts also help me. On WordPress, I like to use the Daily Prompt to begin building idea. I look at the word for the day and free associate with it until an idea begins to form. One thing I have learned, however, is to be flexible with the daily prompt. I used to force myself to complete the daily prompt every day. I found that it limited what I wanted to say. While I could develop a satisfying idea on some days, on others I was only able to develop a shallow piece of writing.

I think the most important factor for finding ideas is perseverance. When I commit myself to sitting down every day and writing, my mind usually comes up with an idea. Like I said at the beginning of this post, my first thought every morning is “What am I going to write today?” My brain does not nudge me to write unless I am showing up every day and writing. I find that even missing a few days makes it harder for me to find and develop ideas, but, if I commit to writing every day, my writing flows better and I can find an idea even on those days when my mind feels like it is blank.



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