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  • Maria Li

Tackling Creative Slumps

You've got a creative task due soon but you just can't think of any interesting characters or plots. What do you do? Well, it is hard to suddenly think of an awesome story idea out of the blue without regular reading, but here are a few tips on how you can tackle your creative slump within a short time frame.

Read some short stories

Observe how published authors write stories within a short word count. Notice how nothing much really happens because nothing much can really happen in so many words. Don't try to overcomplicate your plots and characters. Simple is best, especially for short stories.

Be inspired by some of the ideas of published works and play around with some of the stylistic techniques they employ. Reading more is always good for stimulating your creativity and strengthening your control of language and literary techniques.

Keep up to date with current events

Read widely - not just stories but also on news and history. If you are oblivious to what is happening in the world, you will have difficulty thinking of ideas and also be ignorant as to how the world really works. You may be astounded by what humans are capable of. There's the good and the bad.

Learning about real life events will allow you to learn how people respond to certain events. This will allow you to create believable, authentic and relatable characters. A memorable character makes an impact.

Draw inspiration from your own life

Once you start observing everything around you, you may notice that there is so much going on and every little action has potential for its own story. Whenever you experience or even see something, be it big or small, it may be interesting to somebody out there. We all live different lives. We all experience different things. Someone may want to know about your life, perspective or beliefs or even experience what you have gone through.

Pay attention to your own life but also your surroundings. Notice how other people think and react. This will help you learn about all the different emotions one can feel.

Now consider your approach: Plot-driven or character-driven?

Whilst you need a balance of the two, deciding which route to take initially will help you get started. Developing one of the two first will help you flesh out the rest.

Then... write.

Write as if you're in the character's shoes and immerse yourself in their world. Something I found personally quite helpful when I encountered creative slumps was to just write. Don't question your writing and try to make it perfect at once. Just write. Pretend you are the character. Think about how they will feel and then describe the events in a certain way to show their emotions. A strong character voice will usually be quite compelling and memorable.

And as usual, overcoming creative slumps comes with practice! Using the stimulus below, jot down some ideas then pump out a 500 word creative. Goodluck!

Photo by adisornfoto/Shutterstock

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