Unfortunately, inspiration is not going to clobber you over your head the instant you sit down to write. Often, you must seek it out. But how do you track down inspiration once it has eluded you? Here are 10 ways.
I know what your thinking. How am I supposed to journal on top of work/school, life, and actually writing the darn novel I’m working on? If you have no inspiration, though, there isn’t much point to trying to write. Try journaling for one day, instead. The wonderful thing about journaling, also, is that it can be as long or as short as you want to make it. You can free-write (continuously write about whatever comes to mind for a certain portion of time) or find topics online (like the importance of __, my favorite __ and why, or pretty much anything to get you writing).
2. Think about dreams you have or those you had when you were younger.
Did you want to be a ballerina? A superhero? A swimming pool builder? This could become a dream (and produce an obstacle/conflict) for your protagonist. Also think about actual dreams you’ve had at night, especially since these (can) reveal internal struggles for you that can be applied to your characters.
3. Read or look at books you loved.
Think about what caused the story to be great and what conflicts or worlds were present to bring about the story. Can you use this as an influence (notice I didn’t say as an exact copy) for your story? If it was the characters that captivated you, for example, try writing the characters first.
4. People watch.
Go to a public place and look at those who pass by. Not only is this a great excuse to do something you probably already do, it can allow you to see a glimpse into people’s lives you normally wouldn’t. To make this into inspiration, try to come up with a story for the people you see. Even if nothing makes it into your novel, it’s a good way to boost creativity and practice storytelling. (i.e. The woman with the blue shirt has a family of six, but does tiger taming at night. The little girl who dropped her ice cream is afraid of the color red, but loves the taste of strawberries, leading to an internal dilemma and an affinity for strawberry ice cream, which is pink.)
5. Watch television or movies, especially those you normally wouldn’t.
Write down character and actor names that speak to you along with poignant dialogue and other things you like about the film. Also, think about what you would change if you were writing the movie script and use this as the beginning of your story.
6. Make character sketches, even if you don’t have a plot yet.
Write down things like the character’s age, hair color, hobbies, quirks, and anything else that would define them. You can also add pictures for reference. Not only will this help when you sit down to write as you won’t accidentally keep changing their hair color or something, but it also can spark and idea for conflict. As an example, if you have one character that is the mailman and another who is a casting director, you could write a story about a mailman who wants to be a hand model.
7. Read the newspaper.
Think of what could have happened before and after the article and see if you can make that into a story. Otherwise, look at the newspaper pictures and try to write a story around that picture. This also could work for magazines and news on television.
8. Think about what you would want to read.
First, what genre do you gravitate towards? Fantasy? Historical Fiction? Swedish Fishing Epics? Then, think about what you like about the genre and what you would for sure want your story to include. If most of the books you read are about elderly werewolves with gambling problems and dentures, for example, why not write one with a similar premise?
9. Start with “once upon a time”.
Do not keep this as the beginning of your story, but think about how you could finish the sentence. Just starting with those four words seems to be a great way to shift your mind frame to be more creative and to think about stories that transport the reader to another world. (You can read more about this from Kellie McGann at http://thewritepractice.com/the-best-book-writing-advice-ive-ever-gotten/.)
10. Figure out one piece at a time.
Make your characters first, or decide the conflict, or decide the setting. Once you decide one, the others should become easier to come up with. Inspiration is just the starting point, or beginning idea of the story, not a thought that will come to you complete with every character and plot piece.
How do you find inspiration? Comment below.
Did you find this helpful, or even *ahem* inspirational? Share it on social media.