From fiction writing to blogging, writer's block can strike any kind of writer at any time. According to award-winning and bestselling writer Neil Gaiman, writer’s block is combatable: “People love to talk about writer’s block because it sounds fancy. It sounds like a real thing … like something that you can do nothing about. And that, of course, isn’t true.”
When you’re having a hard time finding the inspiration to write, it’s easy to say you have writer’s block and should just stop trying. But inspiration isn’t something that is going to strike you without any effort on your part—so rather than giving up, you need to focus your energy on finding new sources of inspiration.
9 Creative Ways to Find Writing Inspiration
If you’re feeling stuck in the writing process—whether you’re writing a blog post, a short story, or your first book—try a couple of these tips to get those creative juices flowing again.
- Read: Great writing is the first place to look to find interesting ideas, lifelike characters, impressive plots, and beautiful prose. The next time you’re feeling uninspired, pick up a novel by Ernest Hemingway or Stephen King and keep track of where your thoughts go as you read. Are you intrigued by a specific character’s backstory? Do you wonder what another character is thinking? These are great jumping-off points for a story or novel of your own. Other forms of writing, like nonfiction books, blogs, magazines, and newspapers, are all great places to spark a creative idea.
- Listen to music: Music is a form of storytelling, and it can conjure images in your mind in the same way that reading can. The next time you’re feeling stuck, try turning on a swelling ballad or a heavy metal song and see where your thoughts go.
- Look at art: Paintings, sculptures, and other pieces of fine art can also help with finding inspiration. Browse the Internet, a book, or a museum until you find a piece of art that really strikes you and then ask yourself: What about this artwork is compelling to me? How can I take that and use it in my own writing?
- Watch TV and movies: Television shows and movies are works of creative writing, and they are a great place to be exposed to different writing styles. If you’re in a writing rut, try watching an episode of Mad Men or a Charlie Kaufman film to see what great writing can do.
- Go people-watching: People-watching is a great way for aspiring writers to come up with new ideas (and it has the added bonus of giving you a change of scenery and can help shift your state of mind!). By people-watching, you can draw some inspiration for characters or you may see a scenario play out on the street that you want to incorporate in your book.
- Freewriting: Freewriting is a valuable writing exercise that helps your brain tap into memories or ideas you wouldn’t normally have thought of, and forces you to put something down on the page without worrying about whether or not it’s good. Sometimes, just putting your pen to the paper or your fingers to the keyboard gives you enough momentum to keep writing.
- Use writing prompts: Sometimes all you need is a little nudge in a specific direction. That’s where prewritten writing prompts come in: quick and simple story ideas that are designed to give you a little jumpstart. They can be simple—“What if a package arrives on someone’s doorstep addressed to their dead mother?”—or more complex—“Imagine a world in which water is so scarce that robots are the only beings that can survive.” The idea is that you can use prompts like these for anything from completing a quick writing exercise to a jumping-off point for your second book.
- Participate in a writing group: Being around creative people is a great way to get inspiration for your writing and even become a better writer, especially because they can bounce ideas off of you that you may never have thought of. Writing groups can also serve as a good motivator because you will feel accountable to the group and will want to keep writing so that you don’t show up to a meeting without any new writing to share.
- Take a break: If you’ve tried absolutely everything day in and day out, and you just can’t seem to find the right inspiration, then maybe it’s time to take a quick break. Go do something else—go on a walk for some fresh air, try baking something in the kitchen, or run some errands—and then come back to your writing in the evening or early the next day. Often, a little time spent away from your writing project can be just the trick to come back to it with fresh eyes.
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