6 Easy Ways to Avoid Writing in a Vacuum

Oh, hello! So glad you came to visit me down here in my vacuum.   Pull up a dust bunny and stay awhile, I love company.  You see, I’ve isolated myself from the world hoping it will free my thinking.  I’ve heard that reading and watching things on TV impede the free flow of new ideas so I’ve stopped reading and watching.  I’ve even stopped listening to music.

You think I’m crazy don’t you?  Well perhaps I am.  You see, the longer I’ve spent sealed off from the world the more amazing I feel my writing has become.  Would you like to see some?

I can see from your face you don’t like it.  Although I can’t fathom why you wouldn’t think that this is the most original and amazing new material you’ve ever read, please tell me what’s wrong with it.

Cliche?  How can it be cliché?  Isolating myself was one fail-proof way to avoid being cliché!  How dare you!  And to say the dialogue is stiff and unnatural is just not fair, this is how my characters talk, exactly how they sound in my head.

Mmm, I see.  You’re not in my head.  I guess that’s a problem.  Do you have any suggestions?

Lucky for vacuum man, and for anyone who has tried isolating themselves to improve their work, there is help out there.  The fact is that you cannot exist in a vacuum and rely only on the information in your head to write a book or any piece of fiction.  Writers need to see, hear, feel, taste, and smell the world around them to be able to convey the same sense of realness into their work.  They also need to be exposed to the writing of others to be able to compare and contrast different ideas.  Part of refining writing includes learning what things you like or dislike in the work of others and then applying it to your own writing.

There are limitless resources for writers to use to improve their work, here are a few:

  • Read fiction.  That’s right, pick up a book and read.  Choose both books in your preferred genre and also a selection of other literary works.  Pay attention to elements that appeal to you and think of ways that you can incorporate them into your work.
  • Read books on the craft of writing.  There are many wonderful books written by successful author’s that teach about their unique approach to the craft. These can be most helpful if you are stuck in a rut or uninspired.
  • Watch TV and movies.  Really, I mean it.  Although it’s not the written word, there can be a lot learned from visual media.  Everything from story construction to realistic dialogue can be found to one extent or another – and it’s faster than reading a book.  That said, it can’t be lazy TV watching.  It has to be edge of seat, notebook in hand, watching and critiquing the different elements.
  • Take a class.  Being surrounded by other writers and having the chance to participate is a wonderful way to expand a writer’s horizons.  It is also great motivation to spend more time writing when there are assignments to complete.
  • Attend a conference.  There are literally hundreds if not more writing conferences every year.  There are opportunities without number to attend classes, workshops, rub elbows with people in the publishing industry, and meet other writers.
  • Utilize the web.  There are also countless ways to expand your craft online.  Some of my favorites include blogging, podcasts, and online literary magazines.

So, when you’re feeling uninspired, or are looking for a way or two to avoid spending time actually writing, try something new and expand your horizons.  Chances are you might run across something that gets your creativity engine revved and read to go again.


About Jodi

Jodi L. Milner is a writer, mandala enthusiast, and educator. Her epic fantasy novel, Stonebearer’s Betrayal, was published in November 2018 and rereleased in Jan 2020. She has been published in several anthologies. When not writing, she can be found folding children and feeding the laundry, occasionally in that order.
This entry was posted in Art of Writing, Inspiration, Writing Exercise and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to 6 Easy Ways to Avoid Writing in a Vacuum

  1. Absolutely agree with all of this. I also try (but don’t always succeed ) to see my day job as a chance to experience new ideas and experiences that can increase my depth as a writer. Since you mentioned conferences – im dying to go to one, but we’re in a bad financial place right now. Is there a good resource where I can find conference listings? Im in Maryland …are there any conferences in driving distance? Even NYC is possible – at least for a day of the conference. I couldn’t afford overnight. Thanks!

    • teresalwatts says:

      There are hundreds of conferences all over the place. You can check – Event Crazy.com, Shaw Guides.com and Agent Query.com for conference listings.

      I have discovered more writing conferences, workshops on the east coast than what we have out west.

      Also look into your local Library. With cutbacks they might be slimmed down, but a lot of Libraries have mini workshops related to writing. And those are always free with valuable information.

      Good Luck! Don’t let finances hold you back there is always something somewhere you can attend.

    • Tsuchigari says:

      A huge thanks to Teresa for answering that question! I’ve looked for a good resource for conferences, having recommendations is worth gold.

  2. teresalwatts says:

    Oh yes I can relate and I’ve done just that. Isolated myself. I rarely watch the news. Most people say I live my head in the sand. But the truth I write Historical Fiction and watching the current news interrupted my flow of thinking. Not a fan of politics, the bantering drives me batty, I limit what I watch. My husband is an obsessive news watcher so I get the updates.

    I also isolated myself from attending to many meetings and events. My schedule ended up 3-4 nights a week. So I scaled that back. I read all the time, mostly research material. At the end of the day when I’m done with writing I’ll read other Historical Novels or a book for research.

    You do what you have to do. I found when I did this isolation life my story flowed better, my characters were much happier without all the distractions. It works and I recommend it for everyone trying to finish a book.
    A memoir writer friend had to deactivate her facebook, stopped attending meetings and coming to gatherings until her book was finished. She however was under a contract to finish (rough I know)

    It’s worth it.

    • Tsuchigari says:

      I find it fascinating how different writers work and what methodologies work for them. I tried historical fiction, briefly, and loved learning about the time period but found myself overwhelmed at trying to get every detail accurate. I can understand how distancing yourself from the world would be helpful.

  3. Yup! Yep! and Yes! You can send your dust bunnies over here to keeep mine company – but they better hurry – I’m running out of room for more!

    • Tsuchigari says:

      We love our happy little dust bunnies! Besides, what would keep the lost socks entertained under the bed? Might be time to clean out some cobwebs…

  4. Thanks so much for the conference info Teresa!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s