Methods to find writing inspiration are as varied as life itself. Inspiration is like a drug, and when it fades, despair often takes its place. So many people slowly lose their creative spark to the mundane and incessant demands of daily life.Though I have always wanted to be an author, a decade of devoting myself to teaching English followed by five years of finding my footing as a freelance editor essentially zapped my writing soul until the universe saw fit to send me a couple of huge wake-up calls. Of all things, it took being abandoned by my ex-husband and then going through breast cancer treatments to bring my writing spark back to life.
Although practically everything can be a potential source of inspiration, a person has to open themselves to the possibilities. Kudos to you if you’re the type of writer who oozes inspiration out of your pores and must get words down on the page or else. Those of who who find getting words down a greater struggle just might be inclined to smite you with all of prodigious output. I jest. But still.
This year, I will be covering a revision exercise on photography and writing, punctuating dialogue, outlining a novel, writing characters’ thoughts, using past perfect, and bringing setting to life. Feel free to explore Word Bank’s archive of writing posts. In particular, you may find Writing What You Know Versus What You Don’t of interest.
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In short, here are five methods to find writing inspiration:
Freewriting and Journaling: I constantly fight with trying to break myself of a serious self-editing habit, so freewriting is a great way to discover ideas without the pressure to shape the material that transpires. Specifically, I enjoy loop writing, which is a structured form of freewriting where the writer underlines strong lines and then starts a new prompt based on those lines. This can be drawn out as long as desired, and it yields a lot of potential topics. I also keep an ideas notebook and a dream journal.
Collecting Images: I used to collect photos from National Geographic and laminate them for use in classroom activities. Now I use them to get my creative juices flowing. An online image search can also accomplish the same thing, and Pinterest boards can add to the writing inspiration pile as well. Any image is a snapshot of life rife with a myriad of story starters.
Overhearing Conversation: During a trip to NYC, while being herded like cattle to the top of the Empire State Building, an old woman gripping her walker cried out, “Is this the ride? I thought this was the ride! Is it going to start soon?” Immediately, I wondered, what’s her story? Not too long ago, I misheard a couple’s first names pronounced as “Demon Jill” rather than as “John and Jill.” You tell me? I’d love to read about someone with such a nickname.
Finding Objects: My grandmother’s collection of thousands of buttons is one way I trick my brain into wondering what type of character a button would belong to. An abandoned car, a ghost town, a lost baby doll. Everything is just a potential story waiting to happen. To that end, browsing yard sales or thrift shops can serve the same purpose, as can wandering around art museums. Stories are everywhere!
Traveling and Trying New Things: It’s great to be be able to travel the world, but methods to find writing inspiration can be found close to home as well. I still want to write a story based on the chain smoking French tour guide named Effie who led the way to the Temple of Poseidon under her shade umbrella while wearing high heels. If travel isn’t possible, take a class outside of your comfort zone like belly dancing or pole dancing.
When I started this blog, I was in a big rush to publish, but things didn’t go as planned. For that, I am grateful as experience had not yet forged all that needed to transpire for me to find conviction. The fiction I am most drawn to bears the stamp of literary realism, and I liken myself to a raconteur of personal upheaval and wanderlust. Even when I do write fiction, I tend to draw heavily from real life at times. Creative nonfiction is where I am most at home.
Looking for even more methods to find writing inspiration? Check out this post from Write To Done titled 31 Ways to Find Inspiration for Your Writing.
What methods to find writing writing inspiration do you find most useful? What interesting tidbits have you encountered lately that might make good material for a story?
Please share responsibly. Jeri Walker, 2018. Post may contain affiliate links. Image credit: Fountain Pen.