At some point in time, every writer experiences this. Now, I’m not talking about when your life explodes into insanity for whatever reason, or you lose your job and your motivation, or you’ve had a baby and therefore no longer have actual time to write because of the cute little sleep-and-time depriving monster. I’m talking about swaths of time staring at your computer monitor / notebook / voice recorder / stick in the dirt with absolutely zero idea of how to start this awesome idea that you just know is going to make you a bestselling author.
First, write down the idea. Seriously. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had an awesome idea and pondered it all day only to forget what made it awesome by the time I got home from work.
Second – once you’ve written it down – put it away and forget about it. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s not. Give yourself permission to leave it alone. Work on something else that’s in progress. Or do some research. Or go outside and play hopscotch. Leave it alone for a day, week, or month. It’s not going anywhere and stressing yourself out will only add to the pressure and make it more stubborn about not getting written. Remember the old adage: If you ignore a plot, it will try harder to get written… or maybe it was absence makes the heart grow fonder… one of those. ;o)
You don’t want to ignore it? Or maybe it’s something on a deadline and you can’t ignore it. Okay, there’s a few things you can do.
If it’s fiction: take your characters and write down the most embarrassing thing they’ve ever gone through. All of them. Or write their ultimate fantasy; what would they do if they had more money than God and no consequences? What’s the worst thing that ever happened to them? What dropped them to their knees with grief? On a macrocosmic level, you could do something similar with the world in which you’re writing. Why do vampires walk in the sun in your world? Or why didn’t science develop? Was someone crucial never born or killed too young? How come no one bats an eyelash when people with wings walk down the street? Whatever is most central to your universe, figure out why it happened/how it came to be and write all about it. Trust me, all of those scenarios will not only get the creative juices flowing, but you’ll learn more about your characters and universe in the process and that’s always a good thing.
If it’s non-fiction: change your article/book point of view. Write from your subject’s viewpoint and see what happens. If it’s an inanimate object, that would even be funny. What does the new iPhone6 think about the world it’s been created for? Does it really want to be a pre-teen’s next toy? No, you won’t use it in your article/book, but it’ll amuse you at the very least and sometimes breaking the pressure is enough to get a good start.
There’s a tons of books out there about overcoming writer’s block, but these are my tried-n-true methods for breaking through. Hope they help!