Eight ways to find inspiration for your writing projects, whether you’re drafting a book or a story or simply don’t know where to begin.
1. Read, read, read
Many authors, past and present, have spoken about the value of reading books often. For writers looking to improve their craft and gain fresh inspiration, books can provide the ultimate masterclass.
Reading quality books can help to stimulate ideas. This doesn’t involve copying materials, but simply observing the ways in which writers develop language, create plots, and build emotional connections.
The more reading you do, and the more diverse the genres are, the greater your understanding of how to create and write stories successfully. It is however important to set yourself realistic reading goals. This year, my aim is to read a book every month and while this may not seem ambitious, it is realistic.
2. Practise Your Craft
The advice to read often naturally leads on to that which promotes writing often. It is commonly known amongst authors that the more you write, the easier it will become.
Write every day if you can. You don’t have to write perfect pages – you can write anything that comes to mind. The content doesn’t matter. It’s all about encouraging your mind to overcome perfectionist blocks.
This is not to say that you won’t ever suffer from writer’s block. All authors suffer from a lack of inspiration sometimes, but the more you practise, the less frequent it may become.
3. Watch and Listen
When sitting on a train, in a cafe, or any other public place, I am always observing the people around me. A unique expression, an interesting outfit, or a snippet of conversation can often inspire creative ideas.
While outright staring and eavesdropping isn’t acceptable, subtle observations are harmless. It’s exciting to see or hear something that inspires an idea and to later write it, whether intentionally or subconsciously, into a story.
The ideas triggered by people watching can be invaluable. If you’re ever struggling to come up with ideas, try noting down some observations and see where they lead you.
4. Films and Television
Watching films can often kill the imagination, as visual specifics are already decided for viewers. However, films shouldn’t be dismissed by writers as they can also provide inspiration.
A film with a gripping plot or emotional relevance can often trigger inspiring thoughts. A moment of sadness, a celebration, or a stunning setting can all stimulate the imagination.
5. Go on an Adventure
My own writing is continually influenced and inspired by nature. A misty forest, a sparking swath of sea, or a rugged cliff can provide lasting memories and materials for my books.
Walking away from desks and laptops is beneficial to everyone, not just to authors. Fresh air and exercise stimulate the brain and, in turn, this helps to inspire ideas.
Adventures can come in any shape or form. While nature plays it’s part, exploring cities and travelling the world are also great ways to clear the mind and kick-start creative ideas.
6. News, History, and Music
Watching the news, researching historical events, and listening to music can also help to inspire new ideas.
Information about the world, both past and present, helps to inform plots and contexts. As for music, the emotions stimulated through listening can relax the mind and open it up to creative abundance.
I have found that all three inspire me in different ways, depending on what I’m writing. News and history inspire events while music influences settings and emotions.
7. Life Experiences
Perhaps the greatest source of inspiration is personal life experience. Places you’ve been to, things you’ve done, trials you’ve endured all help to build knowledge and understanding of the world.
Drawing elements of your own experiences into your writing can be inspiring. You can draw on simple, everyday experiences or integrate more significant events.
While I don’t directly draw upon personal experiences to inform my writing, certain elements do indirectly seep into my work.
8. Writing by Hand
Writing by hand is dismissed by many as a long and tedious process. While this is true to a certain extent, the power of putting pen to paper can’t be ignored.
I’ve always written notes and first drafts by hand, regardless of how well I could type. I find it much easier to come up with ideas when I don’t have my laptop screen glaring at me.
Notes and first drafts aren’t meant to be perfect. While typing on a computer immediately reveals imperfections, tempting writers to make instant corrections, using a pen and paper allows you to write in a continuous flow without any distractions.