Over the course of a life of writing there are ebbs and flows of creativity. Sometimes there is an explosion of ideas, other times the ideas dry up leaving a fear that they will never come back. But there are many reasons for why ideas stop. Here are a few:
1. You may need to write more down.
Just get ideas out of your head so there is space for the new ones. The mind can only concentrate on a few things at a time and if you aren’t using your mind to create new ideas than you are only dwelling on the old ideas. The mind has to flow. If you bottle it up then it can’t discover new thoughts.
2. You have grown up in your writing.
Remember the days when every idea sounded brilliant and possible? Have you looked back on some of them and thought, “Wow I would never do that now.” The days of accepting just any thought that catches your eye are long gone. But that’s a good thing. It means you are no longer willing to run with just any thought that flits through your mind. You’re sophisticated and waiting for the right ideas to hit you and when they do you love them because they are more mature and fit your style perfectly.
3. You are forcing ideas.
This happens when you stress about not having ideas and you attempt to create out of stress. Sometimes this can work. There is nothing like a deadline to ensure a finished product. But sometimes this doesn’t work. Creativity flows. It doesn’t march to a beat. And if it is forced too often it may rebel altogether. Take a deep breath and don’t worry about when you will get your next idea. Because the best ideas come when you’re not expecting them to.
4. You’re looking for the wrong ideas.
Sometimes you don’t understand yourself as well as you think you do. You might want to be a writer in a certain genre or write about certain characters, themes or plots, but we all have areas we gravitate toward and sometimes they don’t include the areas we want to gravitate toward. We may want to be funny or mysterious or literary or romantic, however this doesn’t mean we are. It can seem right to push yourself to finish an idea, but if it is the wrong idea it will flow like iced concrete and look just as pretty. You will spend your days frustrated because the piece won’t do what you want of live up to your imagination. This is because you are trying to do something that is not you. Your mind doesn’t work that way. But your mind works in a different way that will be even more satisfying because it will flow and it will be beautiful.
One thing to remember: It’s okay to run out of ideas. You are still creative! And one day you will be energized again and the ideas will flow. You just have to wait.
This was originally posted at Write Over the Edge where I am one of the contributors. Check it out for other great writing discussions!