Have Writer’s Block? Try My Favorite Writing Prompt and Get Back to Writing

Have Writer’s Block? Try My Favorite Writing Prompt and Get Back to Writing

Creative blocks can be a real drag for writers. Even the most prolific writers get stuck from time to time. However, I’m about to share one of my favorite writing prompts that I’ve been using for years, and it might just inspire you to get back to your keyboard.

I learned this writing prompt from novelist Emily Tedrowe, who has also taught at StoryStudio here in Chicago. It’s one of those great little tools to have in your back pocket if you ever get stuck in what you’re writing, whether it’s a poem, an essay, a nonfiction book, a novel, a short story, or anything else. This prompt is here to unstick you and get you moving again with passion!

But first: Imagine yourself 10 years ago

Before we dive into the prompt, I’d like you to first imagine that you’re writing as your wiser, more knowing self to the you of 10 years ago who really needed a certain story, idea, message, or source of inspiration.

The “you” from a decade ago might identify with a certain demographic, such as women at a turning point in their life, stay-at-home moms or dads, people who have experienced a loss, people who have decided to start their own business, or people who want to become vegan.

Or maybe that version of you belongs to a certain psychographic, such as people who feel bored with creating material wealth and want to tap into their philanthropic passions or create a legacy. People in this psychographic group could be any age, any background, and any gender.

Whatever that commonality is among your readers, it’s what will ultimately lead you into the writing prompt I’m about to share.

So what is this magical prompt?

Now that you’ve started to imagine who this ideal reader is — this version of yourself from a decade ago — you can turn that reader into an ally in the writing process. So in a moment when you’re not sure what to put on the page … simply close your eyes, take a breath, and ask:

What would my ideal reader want me to do next?

What would delight them? What can I write that would throw them, surprise them, support them, nurture them, and inspire them?

By asking this question, you’re able to break out of your own rational mind, where you’re getting stuck trying to figure something out. Instead, you tap into the whole reason you’re writing this book to begin with — which is to bring forth the treasures inside you in a way that benefits others.

Why does this matter?

The whole point of imagining what your reader would love for you to write is to recognize that not only are you the author of this work that you’re creating, but you also have readers who have sourced the very book that you’re writing.

What do I mean by this? It’s my personal belief that there are people out there who need the exact story, methodology, ideas, or inspiration that you’ve been called to share. I believe strongly in this “call and response” between book and reader in the universe because books have changed my own life in this way.

Indeed, I can recall a book that saved my life, and I found it precisely when I needed it. I know many of you have shared your stories of similar experiences.

And the more you start to imagine this person — or hundreds or thousands or millions of persons that you’re writing to who need the very thing you’re going to create — the easier it becomes to write for that reader.

Remember, you’re not alone

The act of writing can feel quite isolating, especially when you have those moments of writer’s block. Through this writing prompt, the writing process becomes collaborative, as you deeply get to know, attract, and serve your readers.

You’ll even find joy in crafting your message for the people who are eagerly waiting for your story to land in their lap. You’ll have them wanting your books before they even come out and eagerly watching for the next one while you’re still writing it. They’ll yearn for your coaching, your training, your workshops, your retreats.

They’re already your biggest fans, and they can’t wait to hear what you have to say.

Count me among them. I can’t wait to see what you create.

Try This Prompt to Supercharge Your Creativity

Try This Prompt to Supercharge Your Creativity

Do you ever wish you could supercharge your creativity? Maybe you sit down to write, but the words just aren’t coming? Or you find yourself sitting at your desk, hands on your keyboard, and you just don’t feel it.

That happens. And it happens to every writer.

When it happens to me, I like to turn to a creative writing prompt to get the words flowing again.

I want to share a fun prompt with you, and I’m going to tailor it to fall because I love October – I love Halloween. And it’s the perfect time to think back to your childhood and revisit those scary stories or urban legends you grew up on. Every generation has their version of the man with the hook for a hand, or the frightening phone call coming from inside the house.

So in honor of the spooky season, I want to share three ways to reinvent the ghost story! 

Reinventing the ghost story

A great way to ramp up your creativity and rethink what you know is to reinvent a story that you’re familiar with. Think about an urban legend or ghost story you grew up with. Those were the stories that scared you as a kid – the ones you told at sleepovers at midnight with the lights out.

Do you have one in mind?

Update the setting

Does the story you remember seem a little dated? Chances are good since these stories tend to get passed down from generation to generation. Now reimagine your ghost story or urban legend in a different time or place. Or both! For example, the Legend of Sleepy Hollow takes place after the American Revolution, in 1790. The historical context, language, social customs, descriptions of the buildings –all helped lay the story’s foundation.

Now imagine Ichabod Crane and the headless horseman in a different time and place. The year 2085, on Mars? Take the narrative structure of the story and play it out in a different environment. People do this with Shakespeare so beautifully! The 1996 adaptation of Romeo and Juliet moved the story from Renaissance Italy to a modern Verona Beach, complete with guns, cars, and modern music.

When you move your story in time or place, it makes it new again.

Flip the protagonist

Another way to reinvent a story is to “flip” the protagonist. A great example is the musical Wicked. We always think of The Wicked Witch as the villain of The Wizard of Oz, but in the narrative structure of Wicked, the villain became the hero.

So, we can make the antagonist into the protagonist for a fresh take on the story. Maybe that character was misunderstood or imprisoned by a gaslighting partner. Maybe they’re not evil at all. It’s up to you.

When you flip the protagonist, you’re telling a familiar story from an unexpected point of view. You’re giving it a new layer of depth.

Mash-up an old story with a new theme

The third way to reinvent the ghost story or urban legend is to write a “mash-up” of the original story with a new theme. This is fun – you can take a classic ghost story or urban legend and make it about something with a much deeper meaning than the bad guy scaring the babysitter by calling from inside the house, for instance. Maybe it’s a societal satire of suburban parents who are too self-involved to protect their kids. Think of a different lens you can view the familiar story through.

What’s fun about a mash-up is that there’s already a known structure to the story and some tropes the reader expects. And then you delve into something powerful and unexpected that the reader never even imagined.

Let’s Talk About Your Writing

Do you know you have a story inside, but you just can’t seem to tell it? If you have a calling to write, speak, or share your mission, I believe someone out there needs to hear your message.

I am devoted to helping men and women find their voices and share their stories. Can I help you share yours?

If you have questions or want to talk about how to get from where you are now to where you dream of being, drop me a note on my website.

What movement does your book align with?

What movement does your book align with?

Imagine yourself telling someone “I’d love you to read my new book.” That’s like a person asking another person for a favor, right? Will that make them want to do it? Won’t they be wondering, “What’s in it for me?”

Anyone can write a book. But it takes true thought to write a book that changes lives. Tying a movement to your book will make people want to read it, share it, and promote it.

So, what is your story telling the world? There may be a movement that people are already talking about that perfectly aligns with your book.

Think about the movements that are happening right now. Does your book align with any of them?

Brainstorm different movements

Pay attention to what’s going on around you. What issues are coming up the most? What needs are going unmet? What can you do to better others that people will get excited about?

So, think about different movements that people care about. For example, it might be the environmental movement, the women’s movement, the Black Lives Matter movement, the civil rights movement, the inclusion movement, or the LGBTQ movement.

Tell a resonating story

Your book should be more than just a story. It should inspire people to take a closer look at themselves. So, no matter what genre you’re writing, try to divide your book into two parts:

Part 1

Tell your story. Whether it’s a character’s or your own, talk about struggles, failures, and triumphs to hook the reader. For instance, if your movement is mental health awareness, you might talk about struggles with depression, anxiety, or OCD.

Part 2

End your story, and begin theirs. Take the rest of the story and speak directly to your readers as if you’re sitting right next to them.

Fiercely encourage them and hold them accountable through thought-provoking questions. So if you’re pushing the mental health awareness movement, you might ask the reader if someone very close to them has a mental health condition. You can also ask what are they doing to build awareness around mental health. These personal questions will help readers dig deep into themselves and find their inner activist.

Don’t stop

Think of your book as a passion project. If you’re not getting the results you want, don’t give up. Starting a movement doesn’t happen overnight.

But eventually, your work will pay off, and somehow in that crazy whirlwind, someone will hear you and tell you how much your book changed their life.

Are you struggling to come up with a good story that resonates with readers? Want to make sure your book is the next bestseller? Apply today for a Bestselling Book Strategy Session.

Lean Into Your Feelings for Inspiration – And Write!

Lean Into Your Feelings for Inspiration – And Write!

Inspiration can come from the most unexpected places. Your feelings can sometimes play a huge role in how your creative outlet is expressed.

I’ve been just struck by the abundance flowing in the world for authors these days. I’m talking about the speed at which authors bring amazing books into the world. How those books kind of blow up and become viral. They have a real impact on others, bringing people out of dark places, and it strikes me how all these books come from one spark of inspiration.

If you want to write, you have to open yourself to those sparks. It may sound magical or like something that only happens to others, but your spark of inspiration is out there somewhere.

Start Where You are Today

My client and friend, Pirie Grossman, is the perfect example of this. Pirie’s first spark of inspiration came while she had Covid and she was experiencing some heavy, dark feelings about the state of the world. But, during this time, she did a series where she sent out these interview questions to people over 45 who had reinvented themselves.

She was met with an explosive response, receiving hundreds of replies, and she turned those into hundreds of articles. All those articles were on one topic, and this project went viral.

Despite feeling down and not her best, but Pirie leaned into her feelings and explored something. You can do the same. Wherever you are today, lean into it. What does it have to teach you? Get curious, and you may find that first spark that leads to something great.

From First Spark to a Glorious Fire

Pirie already had her first spark of inspiration, and she turned it into a successful series of articles. If you follow our teachings, you know that it isn’t difficult to create articles once you have an idea. But she didn’t rest with what she had already created. She called me and said, “I want to do something with this! Is it crazy to think I could do this in a book?”

My response was, “Of course not!” It was a great idea, and she turned those articles into a book that is now blowing up. The articles went viral, and now this book is following suit because Pirie took her yucky feelings while down with Covid and followed the inspiration.

From Covid to Bestseller – Doing is Healing

If you’re not in the best place right now, don’t numb out with TV or whatever you do when you’re not feeling the best and things are hard. Pirie could have binged on some shows and avoided the yucky feelings of recovering from Covid, but she wouldn’t have gotten that inspiration to turn those articles into a book.

Pirie was in a rough spot, but she picked up her articles and decided to read what she had created. When she started reading, she felt better. I mean she felt physically better. It healed her.

She decided to take that healing inspiration and put together a book that could help others through challenging times. She went from Covid to bestseller in just a couple months.

That’s the abundance I’m talking about!

What’s Striking for You?

Your homework this week is to lean into wherever you are, whatever you’re feeling right now. Lean into the yuck feelings. See what’s there. What does it have to teach you? What might it light up within you?

Your next bestselling book may be right there. Lean in.

Check out Pirie’s book here!

How to Persevere When You Don’t Get the Results You Expected

How to Persevere When You Don’t Get the Results You Expected

It’s finally Fall. I love this time of year – the feel, the smell, everything! I find that this is the time of year when all of the magic happens.

We’ve been building, building all year, and suddenly we’re at the end and there’s a tsunami of manifestation. It’s a harvest of goodness coming from all the hard work in the preceding months. Yet you probably still have at least one goal that lingers on your vision board, right?

I have a couple myself. These are goals that you really want and intended to reach. They just haven’t happened for you yet. Doubt creeps in, and you start to wonder if it’s even possible to achieve.

How do we stay aligned when this happens? If you still want something, the universe wants it for you.

So, how do we keep the faith? Read on for three strategies on how to preserver when you aren’t getting the results you expected.

Check Your Inner Dialogue

What are you telling yourself in your mind about this goal that hasn’t happened yet? Pay attention because what’s happening with your inner dialogue is impacting your ability to act and hit that goal.

Are you saying that you’re not enough? That you’re not worthy of the goal? Maybe you have yourself convinced that it’s just not meant to be in your life.

“Hey sweetie, maybe you set yourself visions a little too high. You got a little too big for your bridges.”

Does your inner dialogue sound a bit like that?

If so, hear the words and then turn them into positives. It’s okay to feel happy right where you are today. Just tell yourself, over and over, that everything is going to work out.

Everything is going to work out for me! Everything is going to work out for me!”

After all, it always does, right?

Determine Your Desire & Say Yes

While you’re focusing on telling yourself positive things, get honest with yourself.

Do you still really want this goal?

If you decide that yes, you still really want this goal to happen, then it’s time for D&D. Not Dungeons and Dragons, but Desire and Decide!

Determine that this is still your desire, and then decide that it’s going to happen. You may not know how or when, but you decide that it is happening.

“I am all in!”

Say that to yourself with conviction and sincerity. It may seem scary. It may feel out of reach. But you’ve decided that the goal, the vision, is going to become your reality.

You have now said yes. You have recommitted.

Unhook Yourself

Finally, acknowledge how you have hooked yourself on the idea of the goal happening at a certain time or in a certain way. Then unhook yourself from those ideas. It’s the goal your chasing, not the how and when.

You unhook yourself by coming up with one or two, possibly three, things that are good about it not happening yet. That may sound weird, but keep going until you find at least one really good thing that has come from it not happening.

This isn’t about settling. It’s all about being authentic and seeing that there is something good about the delay in success.