How to Tell a Story Without Writing Actual Words

You don’t have to write to get your story out.

Have you ever wanted to write something …

But you’re just having one of those moments when your brain can’t connect to your hands?

Our first instinct, when this happens, is to give up trying to get out whatever story idea might be trapped inside our heads.

(Some people call this Writer’s Block, which I just think gives too many people a lazy excuse not to figure out how to get writing done anyway.)

Though you might be tempted to just give up and try again later, this isn’t always the best strategy. Sometimes you have an idea that just refuses to SHUT UP. You have to do something with it. You can’t just let it roll around in your brain … you MUST GIVE IT ATTENTION.

But … writing is a struggle. Regardless of the reason, the words just aren’t coming out the way you want.

This isn’t a good enough excuse not to pursue your idea, though.

Because, you know — there’s more than one way to tell a story. Even if you do end up writing it (eventually) you can keep your inspiration alive in other ways.

Here are a few ideas for ironing out your idea:

  • Make a video that introduces your story (or it’s just you talking about it to a camera!)
  • Do the same thing with an audio recorder
  • Draw/sketch/paint/virtually create a picture
  • Make music!
  • Create a photo essay (the photos don’t have to be good)
  • Look at your story as the concept for a video or board game
  • Turn your story into a comic strip (again, it doesn’t have to be good!)
  • Create a representation of your story idea using LEGO or Play-Doh (you know you want to)

There are probably plenty more writing-free storytelling methods you can use to “write” without actually writing. You don’t actually have to share these creations with anyone — in fact, it might be better if you don’t. Sometimes, we’re more willing to create to our full potential when  we don’t have to think about how others will react to it.

You don’t have to write to make writing progress. Of course, at some point, you do have to actually sit down and write. No one has ever published a book “written” only in Play-Doh.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

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5 thoughts on “How to Tell a Story Without Writing Actual Words

  1. I have an author friend who dictates everything into her phone and transcribes it. I could never do that – I have to type. But both strategies are good! Whatever it takes to get the words down.

    1. I’ve tried ‘speaking’ my story – doesn’t work for me either! Haha. But sometimes another creative outlet helps get the ideas flowing as well.

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