Finding Inspiration

Look, guys, writing is hard. There’s plotting and planning and character-building and world-building and editing and revising and rewriting and querying. And, of course, writer’s block—the most horrible affliction of all. Everyone who knows what I’m talking about will nod sagely, face somber, but if you’re not quite sure what writer’s block is, here’s a list of how I’ve experienced it:

  • Words? What are words? How do you word?
  • I AM A WRITER. I AM THE MASTER OF MY OWN WORLD. FEAR ME, CHARACTERS. … yeah, I just wrote five pages of info-dump background that I’m going to cut entirely tomorrow.
  • This is my fourth bag of chips and I still have no idea how to start this scene.
  • It is day five. Subject is covered in chocolate and staring wide-eyed at computer screen. Highly dangerous. Do not approach.
  • I am going to write today. I am going to show writer’s block where it can stuff itself. I am going to be a Productive Person. I am… giving up on life.

Basically, it’s super really not fun. But here are some ways to try and combat it.

  1. Do something new.

If you’re in a rut in your personal life, you’ll probably be in one in your writerly life too. Do something new. Go outside. Go to the movies. Go shopping. Change your coffee order. Switch things up a bit, man. Maybe you’ll even find something along the way that you can write about.

  1. Get some exercise.

Studies have shown that the chemicals your brain gets when you exercise can boost your creativity. And if that isn’t good enough, they can ease stress. And when you get stressed out about having writer’s block, often times things will get even worse instead of better.

  1. Listen to music.

Find songs or playlists that help you write. When I start a story, I create a playlist for it and add songs to it as I go. Admittedly, this is partly for procrastination reasons, but I find that certain songs can really set the mood for hard-to-write scenes and help keep the words flowing. You can create your own playlist or find ones others have made. For both of these, I use the music site 8tracks, because I’ve found a lot of playlists to fit the tone of my novel. If you want to take a look, I have a collection of playlists to help with writing here.

  1. Read a book.

Put your novel down and read a book (or two or three). It can be a new one or an old one you really, really like. Whatever. Now read it. What grabs your attention? What do you like about the characters? What worked to keep the plot moving? Study the book, and then use what you’ve learned when you go back to your novel. Just the techniques, though—be careful not to copy things directly from the novel you read, because that’s plagiarism and a very bad thing to do.

  1. Have someone else read over what you’ve got.

Sometimes I get to a part of my novel where I have no idea what to do next. Like, I’ve exhausted all ideas I know of and thought about it over and over again, but I come up with nada. Zip. Zilch. Niente. Rien. Complete and total blockade, dead ahead. So then I go up to my dad and rant about my problem to him, and most of the time, he can help me figure out a way to fix it. When you write a story, sometimes you can get so involved in it that you can’t step far enough away to see the bigger picture and thus the solution to your problem. And that’s where other people come in. So find someone you trust—be it your mom, dad, sister/brother, friend, significant other, whatever—and ask them to read what you’ve got and then see if they have any advice for you.

  1. Find a prompt list.

There are literally tons of these out there. There’s this prompt generator thing you can use, or this list or even this list. See if any of them spark an idea.

  1. Look through images.

Like #6, I’ve often found that images can often inspire me. Try a google search for something that relates to your story and sift through the images.

  1. Leave it be for a bit.

If you’ve tried everything else, sometimes the best thing to do is just to leave your story alone for a while. Don’t look at it, don’t research for it, even try to not think about it. Then, after a good amount of time—a couple weeks to a month minimum —go back and see if you’ve got any ideas. Now that you’ve stepped back from your project a little, you might find that you’ve got some new ideas.

If any of you have any more ideas on fighting writer’s block, please feel free to share them in the comments 🙂


3 thoughts on “Finding Inspiration

  1. Here’s hoping the cottage break will give you all sorts of Inspiration! Many a good stories have been written on the shores of those lakes! See you soon.


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