Elaine Ramos recently offered some excellent suggestions on how to combat “blogger’s block.” I’d like to follow up on her idea by offering ways to prevent it before it happens.
Being stranded without an idea in your head happens to every writer. You can even plan it into your writing schedule:
12:00 – 12:30: Experience writer’s block. Despair.
But don’t forget to write the next part:
12:30 – 1:30: Rummage through my ideas folder until I find something useful.
You can actually plan for such blank-outs, as it happens. Many writers often keep files of ideas. This file can and should include everything you have thoughts on: magazine articles, newspaper headlines, quotes from books and movies, photographs, the cute thing your niece said last week. When you stuff it in the file, try to write a few notes on the back about why it attracted your notice in the first place and what thoughts you have about it.
I myself am not so organized, but there are options for people like me as well. I carry around a tiny notebook (you can pick them up at most grocery stores or drugstores) and jot down things I see on the street, things I overhear while I’m buying my coffee, things I think up on the bus. And I have a friend who lives entirely on Post-its: his apartment is like one big idea factory, with scribbled-on Post-its stuck to every surface.
Be a sponge. Absorb everything you find interesting, and find some way to keep it near you. That list of Northern California duck breeds will come in handy one day, as will that embarrassing letter from your great-aunt. Once you start building your collection, you’ll never again be at a loss for words.