Feeling uninspired? We've all been there. Sometimes the creative juices are flowing so freely that there are stacks of notes and several unfinished projects covering your desk. Then it happens. The dreaded writer's block. You stare blankly at the computer screen. Your notebooks are covered in doodles but no words. You feel like you'll never write again. Here are some places to find inspiration when the well runs dry.
1. Read anything you can get your hands on. Books, magazines, internet articles/stories. It helps to read what others are writing. New characters or new information might spark something for you. If nothing else, you'll get to read some great writing.
2. Brainstorm. Sit down and write. Set a timer and write without judgement. You might remember this technique from school. It's a great way to get your thoughts out there. You can always organize them later.
3. Meditate. Sit down and get in touch with your mind. Daily stresses can get in the way of creativity. Let your mind wander freely without distraction and see what comes out.
4. Hop in the shower. There is no better place to think than the shower. This is my personal go-to when I need to work out a plot point, and many of the ideas that sparked a book or a play came up in the shower. Just make sure you write it down immediately after drying off.
5. Hang out with people (especially kids). Different ideas, personalities, and dress will give you lots of new ideas to apply to your characters. Just make sure you don't make it too obvious. Combine bits and pieces from several people to create a new person. I love working with kids because they are uninhibited creativity. They have funny ideas that can give you a new perspective on life.
6. Art/Dance/Theater. When in doubt, immerse yourself in someone else's creative endeavor. The arts have always inspired, and what moves you can easily be worked into your writing.
7. Remember your dreams. Write down the strange snippets and odd emotions of your dreams. They may not make sense in real life, but there might be something in there that can be turned into a great story or character.
8. New experiences. When life gets mundane, try something new. Not only will you benefit from challenging yourself, but you'll have a whole new world of writing inspiration.
9. Go for a walk. Or a run, bike, yoga class, etc. Exercise clears the mind, lowers stress, and can help get the creative juices flowing.
Writing a play takes three essential components - plot, characters, and razzle dazzle.
The story is absolutely crucial. What do you want to say? Where does it start? How does it end? How do the characters get through it all? Every scene should move the story forward.
Who are the key players in the story? What are their personalities? How do they interact with each other? Are they comedic or dramatic or melancholy? Make sure that the audience will react emotionally to the characters. You want them to be memorable.
3. Razzle Dazzle
This is the special effects, props, costumes, and set. Write in a funny prop or costume. Create a scene around a special set piece. Add to the picture with lighting or sound effects - or even some billowing smoke. Razzle dazzle enhances the show, but use it sparingly. One or two special effects in a show will be memorable. Several per scene gets messy.
Theater programs tend to be under-funded. Some have no budget at all. Middle school theater programs are rare where I live, and it's really too bad. Middle schoolers thrive on theater. It's a difficult time, and theater can provide a safe outlet for expressing themselves. Here are some tips for putting on a show on a minimal (or non-existent) budget.
You can find great scripts that are free or have discounts for schools with a small budget. All of my scripts have a low royalty price, and I offer discounts for schools that need it. There are also great sites that list free scripts, though you may have to shift through them to find the ones with the best quality.
2. Minimal Set
You don't need to build the entire interior of a house. You don't even need walls. That's the beauty of the willful suspension of disbelief. The audience is willing to go there with you. They're watching the actors and won't be thrown by the fact that there are no walls. They believe the walls are there the same way they believe that a 10 year-old is actually an old man.
Even furniture can be a suggestion. If you have the money in your budget, build a few wooden boxes, leaving one side open. Paint them black. They can be stacked or placed next to each other as a couch. Actors can hide behind them or in them, or they can stand on them. With different fabrics to cover them, the possibilities are endless!
3. Borrow, Borrow, Borrow
One great benefit to working with children is their wonderful parents. They are usually very willing to donate time, make/find costumes and props, help with makeup/hair, etc. So many of the shows I've done have looked incredible and gone off without a hitch because of the fabtastic parent volunteers. (Yes, there is a typo, but I'm leaving it. Fabulous + Fantastic = Fabtastic).
Em is a writer, theatre director, and hiker. She likes mixing horror with magical realism and adding sci-fi twist.