Are you starved for inspiration?
You want to write but you can’t. You don’t exactly have writer’s block (writer’s block isn’t real anyway), but you don’t have the motivation to write, either. Perhaps you feel like everything you write sounds bland, or maybe you just don’t know what to write about.
When you do write, you must squeeze out every single word. Writing becomes a chore, not a joy, and you find yourself avoiding the task.
But I bring good tidings. This post is all about finding the spark to write again. Get ready to get inspired.
Delete and Start Over
Perhaps you’ve managed to scribble a few words on paper. Or you’ve pecked out an uninspired paragraph or two on your laptop. But it’s not bringing you joy. You’re not inspired to continue writing. So don’t.
Yes. Whether you’ve written a chapter or a sentence, get reckless and delete what you’ve already written if it’s not inspiring you to continue.
Oftentimes, the shock of deleting your work will activate your power to write. It forces your brain to relay the essence of what you wanted to say in the first place.
Start Writing Anything
If you have nothing written and no idea of what to write, just start writing. This process is known as free writing. Free writing is a time-tested prewriting technique that allows you to unlock your creativity and fluency. After an exercise of free writing, the words will flow easier.
In free writing, you don’t think, you simply write whatever comes to your mind. You don’t judge or edit yourself. You don’t even need to read what you’re writing, but I highly suggest that you do, and here’s why: Accessing your unconscious mind will present your conscious mind with new and interesting ideas that can spark a new story. After a free writing session, take the time to look over what you’ve written to see if there’s any usable material.
It’s a good idea to give yourself a time limit when free writing. Set your alarm for 10 minutes and then go for it. Whenever you feel stuck, consider doing this prewriting strategy to loosen your creativity.
Try Writing in a Different Form
You’re a writer, but are you strictly a novelist? Perhaps it’s time to change that, at least temporarily. Consider writing in a different form of literature. Novelist, become a poet. Memoirist, become a songwriter. Shake things up and challenge yourself to be creative in an entirely new way. Don’t worry— you’re not abandoning yourself, you’re just exploring different literary modes of self-expression.
By writing in a new form, you may turn on the light in a previously darkened room in your brain.
Have you ever watched a good documentary and thought, Wow, I wish I could have told that story? Well, you can.*
*As long as you change names and switch key details.
Real life stories provide the best inspiration for moving and captivating novels. While you definitely don’t want to retell the same story (unless you’re writing a non-fiction book and have the legal rights to do so), you can tweak any story into your own.
Scour YouTube for documentaries about real people or events that you pique your interest. If you prefer, you can also check out biographies and other non-fiction books about the subject to learn more.
What’s your story?
Instead of looking outside of yourself for inspiration, consider your own story. Even if you don’t plan to write a memoir, you can write a book that explores some of the themes or events from your past. No one has to know it’s inspired by your true life.
To pull the best story, consider interviewing yourself. Yes, you know yourself, but you may be surprised by the stories that you could tell from your own history. Don’t overlook yourself as a muse.
Travel to Someplace New
Traveling to a new destination is almost guaranteed to inspire you. And by new, I mean completely new, not some place that you’ve seen before.
However, don’t let this advice send you to a monastery nestled in a Nepalese mountain. “New” can be a trip to another part of your town. If you drive, take to the road and let it lead you to a new place (but based on personal experience, I recommend doing this in the daytime and with full cell service).
If you have the time, money, and inclination to travel to some place far away, do it without hesitation. Do it now. You only live once.
But don’t feel burdened to write while you’re there. Absorb your surroundings. Return home and then write.
Visit Your Grandparents
If you’re fortunate enough to have living grandparents, it’s time to make a visit or at least a phone call. Someone who’s lived for seven, eight, nine, or more decades definitely have a few stories to tell. Just sit and talk to them. Ask them about their life, especially their young adulthood, and the lessons that they’ve learned along the way.
If you’ve lost your grandparents, you can still do this exercise. Reach out to an elderly person that you know. Perhaps you can visit a grandparent of one of your friends, or just meet with an older person in your neighborhood. You’re seriously missing out if you have never done this before. Older folks have the best stories if you’re patient and willing to listen.
One of my favorite activities as a writer is to watch people in their natural habitat, whether that’s the mall, the zoo, or the McDonald’s parking lot. The way that people relate to each other is fascinating. People watching is useful for studying interpersonal dynamics in a real-world setting. Your characterization and dialogue can improve by simply observing real interactions.
People watching also provides much-needed inspiration. Inevitably, someone interesting will catch your eye and make you wonder about their life. Where are they going? Where have they come from? That’s the beginning of a story.
Change the Scene
Instead of writing in the same spot at the same time, why not switch things around a little bit? While I do believe that writing every day is crucial, I don’t believe that you’re limited to one particular writing environment.
While you may be blessed to have a writing cave, it’s not really doing anything for you if you’re not inspired to write while you’re in there. So, perhaps it’s time to write somewhere else, like on your balcony or in your living room. Maybe even at the local coffee shop.
Switch things up and see if your motivation improves.
Strike Up a Conversation
Trigger warning: This tip may distress some of you introverts out there. As a fellow introvert, I feel your pain; but, desperate times call for getting your butt out there and interacting with your fellow human.
I’m not advocating that you force conversations with everybody that you meet, but at least open yourself up to friendly discussion. Smile. Make eye contact. Let the extroverts talk to you. You never know where the conversation will lead. Often times, you find out about others, but some times, you may even find out about yourself, and the things that excite you.
When in conversation, pay special attention to the person you’re speaking to: What’s their story? Where are they from? How could you turn them into the protagonist of your next novel?
Over to You
How do you find inspiration for your next story? Let us know in the comments section below!