Monday, January 12, 2015

6 Easy Ways to Gain Writing Inspiration


It’s happened again. Your writing has come to a standstill. It’s not that you don’t have any ideas, it’s just that you’re not feeling it. What exactly it is, I have no idea. Some call it a muse, which supposedly inspires you to write. I’ve heard others refer to it as a voice, but frankly, I find that a bit weird. It’s not a good idea to go around telling people that you hear voices. Whatever you want to call it, it’s gone and it’s left you with absolutely no urge to write. You just stare stupidly at your cursor. It blinks at you, you blink at it, and nothing gets done. But you feel like you need to write something, probably because some crazy person told you that you need to try and write on a consistent basis.

What do you do? Well, I suppose you could just sit there and curse your muse. Or you could present burnt offerings to the writing gods. And then there’s always the option to sit and stare at your computer until you receive the urge to write…or until the cursor hypnotizes you. Whichever comes first.

But I’ve never really liked any of those options, so I came up with some alternate ways to gain inspiration.
1. Listen to some music. If you know that you want to write an action scene, try this collection of filmscores. Or was it an emotional scene you had planned? Check this out. If you’re feeling really apathetic, you can always turn on some super upbeat pop music. Peter Quill - er, Star-Lord - used music to get pumped up for a thievery. Why can’t you use it to get excited about a writing session?

2. Watch a movie. Okay, so maybe you don’t have time to watch an entire movie, but at least try watching some clips from your favorites. Whenever I watch a good movie I get super excited and end up with tons of ideas for stories or characters. I’m assuming I’m not the only one.

3. Visit Pinterest. Sure, a lot of people use this as a procrastination tool, but this is my number 1 favorite site for receiving inspiration. There are all kinds of boards full of pictures of really interesting scenes, people, and worlds, some of which I’d like to suggest:

The DragonRaces by The Storyteller. This has some really inspiring and thought-provoking quotes. It also has pictures of people and places that make you wonder: what is that? why does it look like that? And any writer knows that images that cause you to ask yourself questions are images that create awesome ideas.
FuturisticBook Ideas by Alexis Holpin. As I hope you can tell by the name, this is only really for writers who are looking for inspiration in the areas of science fiction and futuristic writing.
Blink and Muse by Julie Bechtel. Really interesting fantasy settings and characters. The pinner actually writes little blurbs at the end of each picture, which is really interesting and often sparks an idea in my mind.
Characters:They are talking to me again by Sara Parsley. I love boards like these. It’s full of quotes that instantly give ideas for character development and dialogue.
Faces by Ralene Burke. If you’re looking for character inspiration, this is a great place to go. Pictures upon pictures of colorful looking people that are just begging to have a story told about them.
StoryIdeas by Tyrean Martinson. I’m assuming I don’t need to spell out what this board is for.
You can’t go wrong with any of Amy/Writing Maverick’s boards that have the word “inspiration” in the title. I especially love StoryInspirations: Words. Just scrolling through there is enough to make me want to sit down and write.
And then there are my boards: My Stories, which is a collection of images and quotes that have inspired, or reflect, events in my book. TheWorld of Fantasy, pictures of interesting fantasy creatures. And, since I’m already deep into self-promotion, I might as well mention Character Inspiration, which is a board about exactly what the title says it’s about.

Now that I’ve mentioned how awesome Pinterest is for getting stoked about writing, I need to warn you: it is possible to get lost in there. So put on a five to ten minute timer (preferably one that beeps loudly when time runs out), and as soon as your time is up, get out of there and back to your writing! Otherwise you will lose hours of writing time.

4. People watch. Is this weird? Yes. Does that fact matter? Of course not. Why? Because people watching provides ideas, and ideas make us want to write.

5. Eavesdrop. Yes, this is weird too. I don’t think it’s a super great practice to get into and probably shouldn’t be done unless on complete strangers. For instance, I went to Disneyland the other day with my family and heard some really interesting bits of conversation: “But churro’s are yummy….Joan crashed his car and they broke up…I don’t like Mexican food!...No, don’t take your shoe off. It’s your fault that you got it wet!….If I have to hear about that one more time, I swear I’ll – ” I’m not sure exactly what she would do, but it got me guessing. Anyway, my point is, eavesdropping gives us a good idea of how other people outside of our own groups of friends talk and behave, which is helpful for creating fresh characters. Just try not to be too creepy about it.

6. Nature watch. Go for a bike ride or a walk. Just look at the world around you. It’s actually a very interesting place if you take the time to shut off your electronic device and pay attention. Feel the heat of the sun brush against your skin. Watch the surface of a body of water shimmer and dance. Listen to the whispers of the wind. You’ll be surprised at how much it inspires you.

Those are just a few techniques I’ve found helpful when trying to inspire myself into writing something amazing. I’m sure there are many more. Do you have something special you do in order to get yourself ready and raring to write? I want to hear about it!

Related articles:
How and Why You Need To Schedule Your Writing Time
10 Way to Make Your Writing Time More Productive
What To Do When Your Story Bogs Down

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14 comments:

  1. Wow, excellent post Hannah. I've visited & bookmarked all the boards you recommend - they're so awesome! I do a lot of people's watching. And when I'm really stuck, I usually walk away for a few days. Generally, my mojo is back by the time I'm ready to try again :) Thanks for posting!

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    1. I'm so glad you found my post helpful! I completely forgot about walking away for a while. I do that too, and, after a long break, always find myself super excited to get back to writing. =)

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  2. Hi Hannah, All excellent suggestions! I'd like to add - read a book. I've been inspired by a word or a phrase while reading a good book on more than one occasion. Good work, keep writing!

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    1. Good tip! I can't believe I missed that one. Thanks for your encouragement!

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  3. Great article! I love how these things are coming together—WritingExcuses.com, the #1 podcast in writing just did a couple of episodes on finding ideas. :) :) :)

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    1. How cool! I've actually never heard of WritingExcuses.com, but now I'll have to go check it out. Thanks for telling me about it!

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  4. Pinterest has helped me out of so many slumps. Great article!

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    1. Yeah, Pinterest rocks. =) Thanks for reading!

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  5. Hey Hannah! It's Emma. I've seen a lot of blogs or posts about finding writing inspiration and that's definitely helpful but I always have an overload of ideas. I can never focus on one idea or story at a time. I'm always jumping back and fourth. Do you have any suggestions for focusing on one idea and cracking down on writing just one story?

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    1. Hi Emma! I know exactly what you're talking about. The "plot bunnies" that you can't ever catch. ;-) Yes, I've found a few things helpful. One, before you start a story you have to have a definite end in mind so that you don't start a story and then just trail off because you don't know where it's headed. Two, CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. I cannot stress this enough. The more developed the characters are, the more you will be attached to them, the more you will want to see their stories through. You will be far less likely to abandon them for another book. Three, Pinterest boards help keep you engaged in the story even when you hit slow spots. It’s a safeguard against quitting. =) Those three are the top tricks that help me stay with a story once it’s started.
      As to just picking which story to write in the first place, that’s a bit different. I would just pick the one you enjoy the most. If you aren’t sure which ones you like the most, create a Pinterest board for each book. Start pinning bits of inspiration for each. After a few days, look at each board. Chances are there will always be one that sticks out to you/makes you excited. Choose that one. =)
      I have many more pointers for this, but they won’t fit here. I’ve actually been considering writing a blog post about how to stick with a story, so now I definitely will. It’ll be ready in about 2 weeks, so stay posted. =D Also, if I didn’t touch on something you wanted answers to, let me know and I’ll be sure to talk about it in my post!

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  6. Thank you for this very helpful and very informative post, Hannah! And I love your writing style. It's so easy to read and it really feels like a friend is speaking to me :)

    I apply a few of the strategies you mention, particularly listening to music, watching movies and being in the great outdoors. I also find myself watching people's body language and/or listening in on their conversations, but that usually happens without me trying for it. It seems to be part of my writer's mindset.

    Anyway, there is one more thing that helps me when I'm out of ideas, and that's household activities such as gardening or cleaning, or any type of physical work. I find that physical work, particularly of the kind that can be performed outside, leaves my mind free to wander off into directions that I would have never discovered if I'd just sat staring at my computer screen.

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    1. Hi Liv! So glad you enjoy my posts. Made my day to hear that. =)
      Great point about getting outside for inspiration! I forgot how much physical work can spark the imagination. I often get my best ideas when I'm out surfing or gardening. Computers are great, but they can get really old. =) Thanks for the comment!

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    2. Most welcome, Hannah!
      Yes, it's good to get away from computers every once in a while, as helpful as they are.

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