Many famous writers will tell you to ‘just write even if you aren’t inspired’ but writer’s block is a long and difficult battle to fight. Finding inspiration can help to get rid of writer’s block, get more word per day, make more time for writing, and simply enjoy writing more.
With that in mind here are some of my favorite ways to hunt down inspiration.
Reading a Good Book
The old stand by. Read in your genera, outside your genera, outside your age range, or style. Just be careful not to get sucked into it. A companion book is something you pick up whenever you’re stuck that is funny, interesting, or otherwise related to your novel. You don’t, however, want it to distract you from your own writing. If you often fall into that trap then look for smaller books or easy reads so that you won’t be distracted for long.
Reading a Good Book About Writing
This is the easiest way to keep yourself from getting sucked into a fiction book. You’ll get expertly crafted excerpt and immediate tricks to try in your own writing. These books often double as self-help book. My favorite is 7 steps on the path of a writer. You could also try YouTube videos or podcasts about writing, but be wary of platforms that aim to distract you and keep you tied up. A good rule of thumb is to create a ritual time to read or listen, like when riding the bus to work or while in the shower.
Learning about new cultures and places, seeing new sights, meeting new people, hearing myths, stories, and legends… all of it lends itself to inspiration. I love to travel far and wide but even a day trip, a new way to work, or a walk-off of the main streets can make me relax and find inspiration. Having time for your own thought without distractions can help you work through your writing blocks. I have a feeling this is where the idea of the coffee shop writer came from. You get out of the house, sit down, and force yourself to do nothing but writes. And by sitting and looking, learning and thinking, you will find inspiration.
A Good Movie
Dedicating your self to a new (to you) movie can excite your mind. Instead of just throwing a show on in the background, pay attention to the character development, the set, the subtext of each line and how it’s portrayed in body language. There’s a lot you can learn from the details of a well thought out film and a lot of creativity to be gained from animated films. Perhaps try a forum film, a (short) tv show or anime. Things from other cultures will have different ways of relating to their audience and will portray developments in new and unique ways.
I once found tension through three hours of an otherwise dull film just from the fact that the character had a gun that was never fired in the whole film but that she had reason to use five or more times. There’s always something to learn.
Music That Tells a Story
Throwing on your writing playlist can kick you into the mood in no time flat. Songs that tell stories in their tune or their words can excite your mind. I love finding new artists whom I know nothing about and turning them into characters in my own work. Or listening to classical music which portrays complex emotions working in harmony.
Your Writing Community
Taking through my problems either to a stuffed animal of to my best writing friends always helps. Though the act of just spelling it all out helps, getting ideas and opinions from your writing community will do you a lot of good. If you don’t have friends to meet up with at a coffee shop, through a question on Reddit or join a Facebook group. Writers love to congregate and complain plot together. Going to a writer’s convention or even a YouTube comments section can show you interesting people with which to converse.
I save all my idea on Reddit. Writer’s block busters, characters, and places for me to look through when I’m stuck. Then I create individual boards for each book, saving articles, characters, and prompts to look through when I’m feeling sluggish. If I enjoyed them before I’ll hopefully think they’re interesting again. If not, Pinterest has a lot of very good suggestion features.
I’ve made a post and a YouTube video about what a writer’s notebook is and how to use one. Mine consists of three different colored sections where I write down interesting ideas. Names, traits, symbolic elements, places, objects, and just odd things. A quick flip through that and my brain starts to stir.
I hope you find inspiration in one or many of these things and can make some headway in your writing. Don’t forget, you have to either put energy or time into finding inspiration, it won’t come for free. The most important thing is to not get frustrated and enjoy the search for just the right next move.