how not to lose your mind when faced with a blank screen and blinking cursor, or, the benefits of free writes


If you write, it’s happened to you. It’s pretty much happening to me right now.

But it’s not the end of the world.

There’s a great way to bust though the “I don’t know what to write about” rut: Free writes!

Are you having flashbacks to creative writing class?

It’s okay, I’ll give you a moment to process…

Seriously though, free writes are great for getting your brain moving because you can write anything you want, even if it’s just a completely random, stream-of-consciousness run-on sentence riddled with typos.

Just set a timer for ten minutes and type! It can be as weird or dumb as it needs to be. Don’t judge yourself or try to keep up with correcting mistakes. Just type until the timer stops. It clears your head and then you’ll be ready to work on your manuscript or whatever you’re working on.


When your Muse leaves town


your Muse is out there somewhere without you

So your muse is out of town. Maybe it packed up and went on an eco-tour to Costa Rica. Or went on a Viking cruise or is exploring Mayan ruins or is climbing Kilimanjaro.

Wherever it went,  it’s unavailable and not where it’s supposed to be, which is in your brain or somewhere close to it.

If you write or compose or make art or work creatively in any way, you’ve experienced this. And it sucks.

So what do you do?

  • Read. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve downloaded a new ebook of horror short stories or you’re rereading your favorite novel from childhood. Reading engages the brain.
  • Listen to music. Zoning out to my favorite bands helps me recharge and then I’m ready to get back to work.
  • Watch a movie. Same as above. Sometimes you have to detach in order to work on stuff later on. You aren’t “wasting time”. You’re doing research for future creative projects.
  • Exercise. Don’t look at me like that! I don’t even need to list the positive effects exercise has on your body. There’s already a million articles out there that have already done that. Exercise helps your mind as well as your body.
  • Take a nap. Again, I don’t need to list the merits of sleeping. Maybe you’ll even have a weird dream that will inspire you.
  • Visit a museum or a gallery. Nothing says inspiration like places dedicated to preserving beautiful, amazing works and collections from cultures all over the world.
  • Revisit old pieces you worked on and abandoned and find a way to make them new. Maybe you’ve picked up some new techniques and now you can apply them to an old art project.  Give an old short story that’s wasting away in a folder new life by re-imagining it as a different genre. There’s no reason why that romance about a UPS driver and a newly-single parent can’t be reworked as a post-apocalyptic thriller where they team up to save the world from panda bear overlords unless you find that ridiculous. That has never stopped me.

When your muse comes back, it might be jealous of all the fun things you did without it.