All writers struggle with inspiration and with writing at some point. Knowing what inspires you and your writing is a great way to rediscover your creativeness when you’re feeling stuck.
Here are 4 ways that may help you reconnect with your creativity and get inspired to write:
1: Search for images
This is my personal favorite because I’m a visual person who always find some inspiration in images. They have a way of saying many things at the same time. Browsing around on Google or Pinterest is a great way for me to get my creative spirit back.
The different aspects you can search for when looking for images are endless. Here are a few examples:
- You can search for any kind of topic that you’re interested in, or a topic that’s connected to your story. Perhaps the theme of your story.
- You can search for a period in history and get inspiration from old images.
- You can search for images that correspond with a specific mood you want a scene to have, or the type of weather you want a scene to have. Perhaps you want a melancholic feeling with pouring rain (there are some great gifs of rain that you can find), or soft morning sunlight over a green meadow, etc.
- You can search for fantasy art, sci-fi art, etc., if you’re writing in any specific genre. These searches tend to conjure up a whole lot of pictures, so if you want to save some time you can be more specific with your keywords (example: ”warrior woman fantasy art”, ”castle mountain fantasy art”, ”planets sci-fi art”, etc.).
As you can see from these suggestions, there are many things you can search for. Ultimately it’s your own choice how much time you want to spend on searching for inspiring images.
2: Ask yourself ”what if…” questions
”You get ideas when you ask yourself simple questions. The most important of the questions is just, What if…?” — Neil Gaiman, from his essay ”Where do you get your ideas?”
Many ideas for stories, plots, plot points, characters, milieus, and much, much more can be found by asking yourself some ”what if” questions. This is a great way to start a story, but this technique can also be used if you’re stuck, having writer’s block, or if you’re just looking for new, intriguing ideas.
If you want to read more about this and get some practical exercises, you may want to read this blog post I’ve written about ”what if” questions.
3: Free writing
Free writing is a great exercise to get ideas flowing when you’re stuck. Free writing is basically writing without regarding spelling, grammar, your inner critic, etc. Free writing is just about writing and it’s a great way to overcome self-criticism.
Here are a few steps on how you can set up a free writing exercise:
- Give yourself a specific time (10 minutes may be sufficient if you haven’t done an exercise like this before) or a word count (500 words may be sufficient to start with).
- Choose a topic. It can be something you want to write about in your story. Perhaps a topic with a political or social or religious undertone. Perhaps you want to write about love or companionship or friendship or family, etc. You can also choose to free write about an event from a character’s background, an event that happened in your world that may be important to your story, or parts of a scene that you have in mind, etc.
- Free write! Just focus on the writing during the time you set up or until you have reached your word count goal.
- Go through your free writing and see if there is anything you can use in your story. It may be as simple as finding a character trait, your protagonist’s motivation for fighting the antagonist, the start of an idea to an interesting plot point, etc. You may also find bigger things like the tone you want your story to have, the main theme of your story, where (geographically speaking) your story will benefit from taking place, etc.
Many of the things you find in your free writing are parts you can use to expand on. Free writing is about letting loose. It’s not about creating the perfect piece of written work, it’s about finding your creative flow again.
4: Read in the genre you write
When I’m feeling stuck I usually take a pause and pick up a book that’s similar to what I’m writing (at least in the same genre). I read a chapter or two (usually somewhere in the middle and, of course, from a book I’ve already read before) just to get some inspiration from an author I respect and a story I love.
A word of caution, though: This won’t work if you compare yourself as a writer to the authors you admire (or compare you story to the stories you love). If you know that you have a tendency to do that, make a conscious decision to skip this step because self-doubt isn’t worth it.
Well, there you have it, my 4 ways to get inspired to write.