Types of Writer’s Block: What Are Good Ideas??

What are good ideas?! I can’t do that. My ideas are all shit.

I’ve been there countless times. It’s not that I can’t think of what to write. Instead, I’m thinking:

  • This is cliche.
  • None of these ideas fit together.
  • This is terrible.
  • Who would want to read this crap?
  • This isn’t original enough.

I can deal with harsh feedback. I can deal with editing cringe-worthy writing. But I can’t deal with my own inner critique bashing my thoughts.

So I’ve taken a page from my cognitive behavioural therapy to work through it.

I want you to take a piece of paper and put a line horizontall across the middle. Divide the top section into two. At the top, write your idea. Label the two columns “Support” and “Opposition”; and name the bottom section “New Direction.”

I want you to distance yourself from the emotional association with your ideas. Adjectives like “stupid” or “brilliant” or “unique” or “overdone.” Thoughts like “Someone has done this better”; “Nobody would care about this”; and “This is cliche.”

Get back to the logistics and facts of your brainchild.

The spaces should be used to help you see the possibilities and the consequences of your literary idea. We all know what it’s like: one idea can lead to another, and another, and they multiply like a fungus. When we reject our ideas and still search for others, we have the drive to continue thinking. It’s your chance to seize that momentum and direct it somewhere useful. Instead of running blindly through a forest looking for a specific fungus, stop by the first tree and do a hard look at the fungus clinging to the bark.

Let’s work with an example.

My idea: In a world of vampires, a single human is born.

Support Opposition
  • Ability to explore vampiric life and society through worldbuilding.
  • Can work as a satire about eating meat.
  • Can also work as a satire about veganism.
  • Cannibalism?
  • Possibility for a thriller/suspense story.
  • Vampires have a slew of judgement attached to them in the literary world.
  • Romantic subplot would lead to “Twilight” comparisons.
  • Literary vampires have numerous cliches, such as being lusty, seductive, depressed.
New Direction
Here, consult the “Opposition” column and try to spin an opposing thought (or thoughts) into something else that might work. Focus on “What if?” to begin your contradictions to the seeming contradictions.

Romantic subplot would lead to “Twilight” comparisons:

  • What if the human is asexual and/or aromantic?
  • What if humans and vampires can’t crossbreed?
  • What if vampires and humans have different ways of attraction?
  • What if these vampires don’t reproduce sexually?
  • What if all vampires are aromantic?

Taking your idea and placing it in a non-emotional space is an excellent way to make yourself look at a different perspective, rather than a knee-jerk reaction to an initial thought. You’re challenging yourself to think about the idea. It stops your inner critic from being an asshole.

To make this work with multiple ideas, simply put them into the “Support” column and try to work through the Opposition, and then in a New Direction with the goal of finding a way to connect them. And hey. If you can’t, then you can’t. But you might be able to find something along the way.

Let me know if this helps you! I may even make a printable/downloadable template. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Some tips for brainstorming and working with your ideas to develop them into better ones, so you can continue writing!