Kathyrn Graves

Blank Screen

Facing a blank screen with a deadline looming is every writer’s nightmare. What can we do to spark creative juices when we feel every last drop has been squeezed out of us?

  • Spend time reading. Every good writer is a good reader–and a wide reader. Include classics, fiction, non-fiction, poetry and prose on your list. What? You don’t have a list? A great resource is Book Lover’s Guide to Great Reading: A Guided Tour of Classic and Contemporary Literature by Terry W. Glaspey.
  • Work through an exercise in a writing textbook. Nonfiction writers will benefit from On Writing Well or Writing to Learn both by William Zinsser.
  • Take a nap. I’m serious. Get comfortable, close your eyes, and imagine. Let your mind wander through all the aisles in your inner video library. Fiction writers will benefit by allowing characters to act out various possibilities in your mind. There is a reason our best ideas come to us in the middle of the night or upon waking in the morning. Our brains have been free to roam.
  • Spend time in prayer. Asking God what He wants you to write is the best place to start. Something I’ve noticed is that He answers that prayer in the most practical ways. When He does, follow through immediately because He has a work He is about to do and we don’t want to miss it.
  • Go outside. The natural world is the great inspirer. I’d love an excuse to spend several days in a beautiful, remote cabin with nothing to do except write. Unfortunately, that isn’t likely to happen any time soon, so I’ll have to settle for my backyard. But a few hours outside is remarkable for clearing the mind and helping us find focus. StoryWritingStudio is working on a writing retreat for our readers in the fall. Stay tuned.
  • Open your computer and start writing. Anything. At some point, your random thoughts will begin to coalesce into something useable.
  • Scan past issues of writing periodicals that you receive. Christian Communicator and The Writer are two of my favorites.
  • Skim through Sally Stuart’s Christian Writers Market Guide for publishers’ needs. You may realize you already have an idea you could turn into an article or story.

I could keep going, now that I’m on a roll. But it will take me a while to do all the things I’ve suggested already.



Kathryn also writes at www.KathrynGraves.blogspot.com on Mondays and Thursdays and www.KathrynGraves.wordpress.com on Tuesdays and Fridays.




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