If you’ve ever had to write anything, whether it’s homework, or a letter, or even a writing project that you originally started for fun, you’ve probably had this experience:
A blank page. Cursor blinking on the screen. Your pen, doodling spirals in the margins… And absolutely NOTHING coming to mind. Nada. It’s like your brain has completely turned off and you’ve forgotten how to string words together. You have no idea where to start.
When writer’s block hits, you might assume that you don’t have any good ideas, or worse, that you’re just not creative. Don’t listen to that inner critic! It happens to all of us, even professional writers. And we have some really good news: You can beat writer’s block. You’re FULL of ideas for stories—really, we promise. Sometimes all you need is a little inspiration to help you get started.
On Storybird, artwork is the secret ingredient to cure the biggest hurdle of writer’s block. Instead of staring at a blank page, you have something to work with. To kick off this month’s writing challenge, we’re going to teach you how to do a free-writing exercise to help get new ideas flowing when you’re feeling stuck. Ready?
Free-writing with Storybird
- Head over to the CREATE page on Storybird and start scrolling through the library of illustrations until an image jumps out at you. Even if you don’t really know why, something about it will catch your attention. Once you feel that spark, go with it. Don’t worry about trying to figure out a whole story—just look at the image and let your imagination take over.
- Give yourself 10 minutes, set a timer, and write down whatever comes to mind when you look at this image. Spelling, grammar, plot—don’t worry about any of it. And don’t go back and read what you’ve written. Silence the editor in your head. Keep your fingers moving and the words flowing until the time is up.
- After the time is up, THEN go back and look over what you’ve written. You might be surprised to find some good stuff in there. Or, you might decide that you want to take it in a totally different direction.
- Reset the clock, browse for a new image, and start again. Save these exercises on Storybird without publishing them (this way they won’t be entered into the moderation queue). Once you have a few pages of words saved, you can go back to your dashboard and re-read them, copying and pasting the best sections into a new, polished draft that just might become the novelette you’re going to finish this month.
How to save a DRAFT on Storybird: When you finish writing, click “Save & Exit” at the top of your screen and then select “My story isn’t finished yet.” This will save your work as an unpublished story that you can go back and edit from your dashboard.
What you write during a free-writing exercise can be completely nonsensical, and that’s totally okay. The point of free writing is not the finished product: it’s the process of getting past your inner critic and just getting ideas down on the page.
Some writers do free-writing exercises every day to warm up, kind of like stretching before a soccer game. And others never do free-writing. The more you write, the more you’ll discover what works for you.