If you find yourself faced with a blank page — be it in your journal or on your computer screen — you may be searching a little too far away for content to write about. Try coming in a little closer to your heart or mind. Ask yourself: What do I know a LOT about? Depending on the type of writing you are trying to accomplish, you may want to try one of these:
- What routines do you follow each day or each week, either for your physical or your mental health, or for that of a loved one?
- your cooking or shopping routines
- your exercise routines
- your art therapy or other therapy sessions
- your weekly girls’ or guys’ night out
- your morning rush to get the kids out the door
- What places have you lived or worked in that you could describe for others who may never have experienced that place?
- your childhood or adult home
- your elementary, middle, or high school
- your college dormitory or campus
- your old neighborhood – or current neighborhood
- your past or current place of employment
- What people have you known very well?
- your childhood babysitter
- your favorite teacher or professor
- your friendly cashier person or mail carrier
- your sister, brother, boyfriend, or aunt
- your faithful dog, horse, or cat
- What inanimate objects have made a lasting impression?
- your high school beater car
- your grandma’s old Scrabble game
- your son’s stuffed rabbit toy
- your infamous black suit jacket
- your new phone
The idea here is to describe one thing at a time, in such rich detail that a total stranger to both you and the object of your description will walk away with a clear mental picture. Try to SHOW rather than TELL. Try to use as many of your senses — and as many sensations — as you can, in your descriptions. Also try using similes or metaphors to paint even brighter mental images for your audience. Read your description out loud, first to yourself, then to someone who may be likely to ask questions for clarification. Seeking feedback, however embarrassing or frightening, is often the best way to improve your writing.
Try this: Describe your favorite childhood bedroom: First make a list of everything in the room that you can possibly remember – even small items like your hairbrush or floor rug. Once you have finished, close your eyes and mentally “walk” around the room, scanning for details you may have forgotten. Ask yourself systematic questions such as, “Where did I lay my school books when I got home?” “Did I hide anything in my clothes drawers?” “What did I do when I had to stay inside my room for a time?” “Who else came into my room, when, and why?” This process helps you get inside the mind of your childhood self who lived in that room. When you are ready, write from the perspective of that child. Remember not only the wonder of childhood and its new discoveries, but also the old familiarity of that place you called “Home”.