When There Are No New Ideas

There are days when so many ideas and words fill my head that they begin leaking out of my ears. On those days all I have to do is lay my head sideways on the keyboard, and by the time I look up there is a new short story or essay or blog post. It takes a while to clean the mess from between the keys (think pancake syrup oozed between toddler’s fingers), but it is a beautiful mess.

Then mornings like this one, and my mind is as empty as the public swimming pool in October. I feel like the last kid there, my legs dangling in the cold water, everyone else home, everyone else eating mac and cheese while I’m left holding the crusty remnants of a peanut butter sandwich.

There is nothing new under the sun, I mutter to myself, feeling a syrupy spot on the inside of one of my knuckles from the French toast I made for the kids this morning. There is nothing interesting.

* * * * *

Now I sit in the empty auditorium while ideas audition. The few that come out from the back of the stage, nervous and covering their mouths, receive a dirty look from me. The stink eye.

“I’ve already written about you,” I say with disgust, shaking my head at their audacity.

They murmur something that sounds like, Well, not exactly, then trip over their bellbottoms as they exit, stage right.

What do you do when you feel like there is nothing new to write about?

10 Replies to “When There Are No New Ideas”

  1. I try to look at one of those ‘old ideas’ in a new way. I’m actually struggling right now with today’s writing project, so the immediate plan is to go do something else for a bit and take some pressure off myself to write something brilliant. :p

  2. Sometimes I give myself a free day to take the pressure off. I get outside, spend time with a friend, bury myself in a good book. Usually that gets the creative juices flowing again.

  3. Ditto to what Leigh said. Usually, I do one of two things: 1. Read an extra lot, or 2. Do something with friends. Both are great sources of inspiration. It is OK to have days where you do not write anything…as long as it does not turn into many days in a row. Give yourself some grace to have uninspired days…

    1. I start to get stressed if I miss a day…this is the problem of paying the bills with writing. But you’re probably right – a day here or there wouldn’t put me too far behind.

  4. When this happens to me, I try to blame my parents if at all possible. If that doesn’t work, I assume it’s from getting called names in junior high. And if I’m still struggling, I wonder why God seems distant. If none of that works, I drink.

    Helpful, aren’t I?

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