I keep a list of writing topics handy for those times when I get stuck. Because I write on difficult themes, I get stuck frequently. Sometimes, my list isn’t enough to burst my thought dam. In that case, I like to mine completed pieces from my writing history for phrases and inspiration. When even that fails to get my creative juices flowing, I trick my writer brain with the following exercise:
Find a completed story, poem, essay or journal entry on a topic you haven’t worked with in awhile but meant to revisit. After reading the piece, rewrite it. The whole thing.
This exercise takes upwards of an hour. The point is to fully disengage from the piece that has you stuck, giving your subconscious time to sift through it. However, if you are on a deadline, rewrite one stanza or paragraph, or set your timer for twenty minutes and do what you can.
Return to the piece you are struggling with and read it beginning to end. You’ll be surprised at what new ideas emerge, and you’ll have a revision to show for it.