We writers. We all get those days when we begin to wonder if our mind has left us. Devoid of ideas and suffering from lack of motivation, we sit around, staring at a blank piece of paper or an empty Word document. We search for our characters, hoping they haven’t ditched us yet. We begin to wonder if we’ve myth-busted Writer’s Block.
And then BOOM, something hits us and we begin fumbling madly with our pencil, shrieking with excitement, starting a typing craze. This symptom is commonly known as “inspiration,” and it arrives from various different sources, all of which have proven successful for many writers to keep on writing, to keep doing what they must get done.
Here is a list I have put together of ten different types of inspiration that I know have helped me. Depending on my mood or situation, some work better than others, but most of the time, I welcome anything to get my mind spinning again.
1) Listen to Music
Music has never failed me and never will. There are so many different kinds of music that can lift your mood, to motivate, to inspire. Playing an instrument can help reboost the mental state; bringing it out on the piano has helped me countless times. I have also found that film scores help a lot, and no wonder; they were made to go along with stories. Depending on which scene I need to write, I know which songs to listen to. Sad scene? I’ll go with Schindler’s List. An epic scene? Give me anything Hans Zimmer action. Dramatic or moving? I’ll listen to Hymn to the Fallen. I have a playlist of 52 videos of epic music just for writing epic scenes too, if you’d like to check it out. You’d be surprised at how inspiring and conjuring music can be when it comes to writing.
2) Read Books
This is definitely among the best pieces of inspiration. This is where writers get their ideas from after all: reading. When devoid of inspiration, setting down with a new book or an old beloved story can definitely help. Might as well go the extra mile and break down and analyze certain plots or character arcs, which could inevitably hit you with those Idea Bombs or even help you find a piece to your missing puzzle in your current project.
3) Watch Movies
I see movies as stories being acted out before our eyes. Of course, there are a lot about movies that books have the advantage over, and vice versa, but both books and movies, if well done, are chock full of good writing inspiration. Even if they’re a flop, then try to learn from the movie: what you should avoid or do differently in your own story.
4) Get Exercise and Fresh Air
You’ve been sitting for hours. Time for a break! Going outside is a great way to restart, and it really can be a great outlet for motivation and inspiration. Because you’re out in the world, away from your isolated desk full of nothing but boring papers, writing utensils, file folders, etc. Out in the big world is an unlimited source of inspiration, ideas, things to notice, appreciate, and think about. People watching is an excellent way to get ideas for characters. Exercise and fresh air helps to clear your head and get your mind back on track. 20 minutes of tennis or swimming laps leaves me ready to go back and concentrate. Step out into your backyard or go on a walk and bring your camera or a nature journal. This leads me to my fifth point …
5) Just Take a Break from Writing
A longer break. Preferably longer than a few days. This may not be welcome advice, but when you’re sucked of all ambition and dry of ideas, after you’ve tried rewriting that next scene for hours, putting a stop to writing is probably the best thing you can do. Believe me, this does help. Doing other things with other people other than your characters provides the ultimate list for writing inspiration. When you take a break and later return to your writing, you will feel refreshed and remotivated. Try your hand at something else other than writing and give photography or sketching a shot. Maybe learn an instrument. Make dinner. Build something. Learn code. Anything you’ve been wishing you could do for years! Now you have a break from school? Vacation from work? Put your writing away and try something else. Spend time with family. You weren’t built to write all your life. No one wants a fried egg in their head.
6) Do Nothing.
Absolutely nothing. Just sit down and be nothing. Think nothing. Just absorb your environment, settle down, and pretend like you don’t exist. Erase everything. Yoda put it perfectly: Clear your mind must be, if you are to find the villains behind this plot. When you’re ready to think again, meditate. Try to answer questions you know you can’t answer. I like taking a nap. When you’re doing nothing, you may be just likely to think of something. Then you can go do it.
7) Write Something Different
So … you just have to write. But you can’t write what you know you need to write … say, your next scene. It’s too old, you’ve exhausted all your ideas and brain work on that one section. I’ve found that when I’ve reached a certain point where I begin losing it, I take a step back and look at the whole picture. I reread what I’ve already written. Reread your storyline; you may get more ideas for certain characters or decide to take out certain scenes or add new ones. Start reading your book from the very beginning without being the editor, just for once. And when you’re done with that, just put your book aside and try writing that short story you’ve been wanting to try for months. Try your hand at poetry; hey you never knew you were that good with rhyming! Dabble in other genres. Browse writing prompts. Anything that can take your mind off the project you worry and stress over the most can help refresh your mind and come back to it later, motivated and inspired.
8) Be a Different Character
Act. Try a different accent. Be a different character. Forget who you are and try to put on a whole different personality. When you do this with other people, it can be really fun. Maybe get some friends together and try making a movie: write a script or make a short film on a beloved book. Get into the costumes. If you can’t write a story, then act one!
9) Go to Pinterest.
Pinterest is for Procrastinators. But it’s time for self control here. Pinterest can be a writer’s haven because there is just way too many writing tips, character look-a-likes, scenes, spaceships, castles, fantasy creatures, and even movie/nerd references and memes that actually leave me with endless ideas. So, assuming you have some sort of timer (either an actual one or some sort of mind Time Conscience), head on over and check out these awesome story inspiration boards …
Realm of Fantasy by screenwriter Désirée Nordlund.
Futuristic Book Idea. Tons of pins that have to do with science fiction or fantasy inspiration.
(S.B) The Dragon Races and Imagination is now allowed to be set free by The Storyteller. Both boards have pins ranging in the hundreds and thousands, chock full of thought provoking writing prompts. You will not be disappointed.
10) Check out Other Writers’ Websites
This has always been so helpful. It’s great to find other writers on the same path as you. I’ve found countless tips and inspiration for writing from other writers. Particularly if you have a writing blog and you want to start a writer’s platform for publishing, connecting with other aspiring authors is definitely a must; it’s the perfect way to gain readership and support. I know it has worked famously for other people like myself. You can check out this post on Hannah Heath’s awesome blog about starting a writer’s platform and being successful at it: 11 Tips for Building a Successful Writer’s Platform. Definitely mandatory.
And that’s it. I hope that’s helped you, or, even better, inspired you. Just remember: there’s no such thing as Writer’s Block … wait *slams a wooden block down on the table* there’s that to hit your head with. And keep telling yourself that giving up is absolutely out of the question. But if you need to, get coffee and/or a chocolate donut. Treat yourself.
Good writing to you.