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What to Write About When You Have Nothing to Write About

9

November 10, 2015 by Nathaniel Tower

Whether you are trying to write a novel, pen an epic poem, or maintain a blog about this or that, it’s inevitable that you will at some point experience one of the following:

  • lack of inspiration
  • decrease in motivation
  • general malaise
  • writing burnout
  • general I-don’t-give-a-shit

 

Some people refer to these symptoms as “writer’s block,” but I don’t buy it. There’s nothing being blocked. You just aren’t trying hard enough.

But what can you do about this lack of trying? It’s not like “start trying” is any kind of worthwhile advice. Being told to just sit down and write is certainly no cure for those I-don’t-give-a-shit moments. You have to write about something.

But what, oh what, are you supposed to write about when you have nothing to write about? Here are ten ideas for you:

  1. Write about something super controversial that would piss a lot of people off. Maybe it would even piss yourself off. Maybe something politically incorrect. Or maybe something downright irreverent. If that doesn’t get those writerly juices flowing, nothing will.
  2. Write a top ten list. Nothing is easier than writing a top ten list. It doesn’t even have to make sense. Top ten barn animals you want to spit on while driving a dune buggy. That’s a great topic! If ten is too many, just do six or five or even two. No one really cares how long your list is as long as it’s a damn list.
  3. Write something that mimics something you read in McSweeney’s. Because if McSweeney’s published it, then it must be brilliant. By mimicking it, you will become brilliant.
  4. Write a letter to the editor of an imaginary newspaper complaining about the stupid article you didn’t read last week. Remember to use lots of colorful language.
  5. Write a children’s book about a cow and a head of broccoli. Give the broccoli a machine gun and make the cow a hipster with skinny jeans. But for heaven’s sake, don’t kill anyone. It’s a damn children’s book.
  6. Write a book proposal for a book that’s already been written. Maybe something about the time you marched through the wilderness by yourself. Or the time you cut off your arm while trapped under a rock. Or the time you got a full scholarship to West Point.
  7. Write a story within a story within a story within a story within a story within a story within a story within a story within a story within a story where it was all a dream. And make sure the final story takes place in a bar.
  8. Write a religious tome that mashes all of the religions into one and call it Mashianity. Make sure it offends everyone and has at least one erotic scene.
  9. Write the ingredients of all the food in your pantry, but insert a potty word after each one. Like high fructose corn syrup poop or xanthan gum dick.
  10. Turn off your computer and type whatever comes to mind for twenty minutes. Don’t allow yourself to fix any typos during the entire twenty minutes. During the course of this twenty minutes, you will realize that you just wrote the best thing you’ve ever written, but there is no record of it anywhere. Hire a private investigator to dust the keyboard for your prints in an effort to replicate the exact keystrokes you made during that 20 minutes.

 
See, that was easy. You are back to writing again. And if all else fails, write some kind of weird erotica story.

9 thoughts on “What to Write About When You Have Nothing to Write About

  1. Cynthia Lee says:

    When I have no idea at all what to write, I google things like “murder in a duplex” or “10 weirdest disappearances.” Most recently, I googled “really weird castles” and that was fun. Obviously, I like to google dark subject matter, not sure why. It has worked quite well so far.

  2. Love it! Made me laugh.

  3. jezrinne0705 says:

    Wow. This was amazing. All fun and nice to read!

  4. jewey says:

    hahaha. #10 sounds good to me!

  5. namaku Agnes says:

    LOL! No 5 and 8 are best : ))

  6. nycedave says:

    mostly when i dont give a shit about writing i watch snails and imagine how much salt i wanna pour on it then i write

  7. tok131122 says:

    I love all of these ideas Nathaniel
    I seriously want to write good stories or tell a good yarn as we would say in Australia. That would relate to a short story though. A book would be miraculous, I am a bit of an argle-bargle writer. Nevertheless I love to try, my rich Aussie accent is embedded in my DNA and when I write anything at all it activates. I am around 4 months old now, dabbling in a free WordPress blogsite. I am completely discombobulated, I would appreciate someone like you as wordpress recommended your site as one to connect with, yes if you ever get a smidge of time to read some of my blogs and critique them. I’m a hard nut Aussie woman, I can take it on the chin, I’m ready for the blow, so tell it like ya see it.
    I’ll heed your advice, can’t promise I will extract myself from writing all together, perhaps just adapt a new approach. I am reading, reading but I have to say Nathaniel I love a laugh and I find so much of it just bores me rotten..oops there is that DNA again. Perhaps I am just too old and Aussie slang is too argie-bargie…I have read all your learned advice, just need a shove one way or another. Cheers Mate from Annie in Australia 🌞 🌴 🌊

  8. Harpwriter says:

    I’m in complete agreement on there being no such thing as writers block. In my case, it’s mostly just unwillingness to get my lazy butt in front of the computer. My own solution is to set a timer for fifteen minutes, by which time I’m usually engaged in my own story and willing to continue.

    I loved some of your ideas, though. It reminded me of a NaNoWriMo pep talk. If you’re having trouble with your project, just keep writing anyway.

  9. Faced with this dilemma recently, I wrote a short story containing everything in Bartleby Snopes “Things That Generally Turn Us Off” list.

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