Writer's block, however troubling it may be, shouldn't have to stunt your writing progress. There are plenty of other ways to get ideas flowing when drafting just isn't doing it for you.
In truth, there isn't a single writer on this planet who has lived the write life like a marathon rather than a series of hundred-meter sprints. Some days, you're on fire. It seems nothing can stop you, not your doubt, not the words of others, not the weather. But as you go on, you realize that motivation isn't going to stay with you forever.
You cannot become dependent on your motivation. Motivation comes and goes, and when it's gone, it might not be back for a long time. What sets apart a short-lived writing career from a veteran of the field is endurance through the worst of the worst. But the write life isn't as dreary as some make it sound; drafting is not the only way to polish your craft.
Character Development Exercises
Even as your motivation may dwindle, your imagination will live on. That's the blessing of a young writer. This means your characters will stick around even when the inspiration leaves. Take advantage of this . . . character development exercises can be very fun.
There are many practices to get to know your cast and crew better. Start a journal for your main character. This is a great way to know what's happening in their head on even the most mundane of days. Getting in their head allows you to see what lies deep inside of them: their internal monologues, their hopes and dreams, their deepest desires.
Interview your characters. There are many questionnaires online that you can fill out accordingly. Granted, some questions are tougher to answer than others. Their favorite cookie or which hand they write with is not the same as how they perceive their childhood traumas. Still, there's a lot of room for fun here as well.
My favorite character development exercise are personality tests. This may seem unnecessary or maybe adolescent, but sometimes taking Buzzfeed quizzes hits different than writing a chapter of a novel. Not all online personality quizzes deserve a bad reputation. Where there are Hogwarts House sorters and alignment charts, which are enjoyable in their own right, there are also the Enneagram and MBTI's 16 Personalities.
Character Development Index:
Not everyone's art is Louvre-tier, sure. But often where words fail art lives on. Trips through Pinterest and Deviantart reveal colorful depictions of characters, scenes, and thrilling fantasy worlds. A little bit of art can enhance your perception of the core of your story.
This art may include finding real-life photographs of your character cast, or designing avatars. If you have some time on your hands, create a map with Inkarnate or Azgaar's Fantasy Map Generator.
The Power of Music
Music is a big part of many writers' process. However, not all music is meant to fuel your internal storyteller. For some people, the personality of lyrical music is the name of the game, while others such as myself are more inclined to the vast wilderness of instrumental tunes.
Organizing playlists can be tedious, but for many, it is a worthwhile activity. You can organize playlists based on characters, scenes, or entire projects. Additionally, platforms such as Spotify have countless writing playlists already made for you.
If nothing hits, there are plenty of ambient mixes on YouTube. Instead of listening to a melody, listeners are taken to a land of liquid sound that ebbs and flows in indiscernible patterns. You can also listen to flowing brooks, forest chirps, or falling rain, if that's more your style. There's an entire world of ambient music for you to explore.
Worldbuilding is unbelievably overlooked in the writing world. However, anywhere from small towns to medieval kingdoms to interstellar orbit complexes deserve rhyme and reason. As mentioned before, sketching portraits or making maps are both great ways to flesh out the exterior of worlds. But that's not all there is to worldbuilding. Most worlds have a system of diplomacy, politics, and culture that are just as important as exteriors.
Write a mock-newspaper from your world. Create charts of the biology of your science fiction reptile race. Draft a textbook entailing the inner-workings of geography, history, and politics. Who do your people look up to? How does the severity of weather patterns affect the socioeconomic dynamics of the surface? What kinds of people are at odds? Is your world closer to utopia or dystopia?
NationStates is a tool with which users can create a fake nation and participate in international politics among many other user-generated states. There are countless ways to better develop your world, whether it becomes canon or just for the sake of gameplay.
Paris is an EIC for Paper Crane.
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