It’s a common misconception among non-writers that writing just happens. Bloggers have a unending, nigh-magical source of topics and ideas. Fiction writers merely have to touch fingers to keyboard for a fully realized story to flow.
If you are a writer, you know that’s not the case. When writer’s block strikes — no matter its form — you must take action to defeat it. Whether you’re blocked or uninspired, here are 15 ways to find writing inspiration and get the words flowing again.
It’s so simple: just read. Re-read your favorite book. Read a new book, a new author, a new genre. Find inspiration and innovation in the works of other writers.
2. Keep an Inspiration Notebook
Keep a little notebook (or a smartphone app) on you at all times. When you see a great headline, read a captivating opening line, read or hear an inspiring quote — write it down. When you’re lacking confidence or motivation, browse through your collection. Chances are you won’t remember every quote; let them surprise and motivate you all over again.
3. Seek Random Quotes
Inspiration notebooks are wonderful tools, but if you’re stuck in a rut, sometimes you need to read passages that you haven’t cherry-picked. When your notebook doesn’t cut it, try a random quote generator.
4. See a Play
Or watch a movie, or a television show. I prefer plays because the unique audience-performance interaction and the possibility of error or improvisation inspires me in ways recorded performances cannot.
5. Take a Hike
Take inspiration from nature or simply allow the repetitive physical challenge to free your mind to wander.
6. Listen to Kids
Children process the world differently than adults, and their hilarious, absurd, or insightful musings can provide outside-the-box inspiration.
This sounds creepy, but just sit in a public place — a coffee shop, a mall, a park — and listen to the people around you. Improve your dialogue writing skills, get inspiration for new characters or character traits, or simply peek into the interests and concerns of people other than yourself.
8. People Watch
Observe others, but try not to overhear them. Invent a narrative based on their outfit, the way they hail a cab, or how they interacted with the barista.
9. Look at Magazine Covers
Browse recent publications or look at famous magazine covers. Find inspiration in the photography, the headlines, or even the juxtaposition of two completely dissimilar magazines sitting side by side.
10. Listen to Lyric-less Music
In middle school I had a teacher who would play a piece of classical music and challenge us to write as the music played. Even at 13 I was amazed at the personal reflection or narrative leaps that came through the music.
11. Listen to Music and Lyrics
Musical notes hold inspiration all their own, but the combination of music and lyrics provides inspiration as well. Turn on the radio and listen until a phrase in a song captures your imagination.
12. Try Writing Exercises
Exercise is good for the body and the mind. If you’re stumped, try a few mental stretches via writing exercises. Find exercises online, or challenge yourself with free writing or timed writing.
13. Writing Groups
Join a group of writers and discuss, edit and critique each other’s work. Two heads are better than one, and new insight and ideas often flow from collaborations or discussions.
Drive for an hour, take a day trip, or go on a weekend getaway. It doesn’t matter where or for how long, a simple change of scenery can be rejuvenating.
15. Abandon routine
Ruts carry over into multiple aspects of our lives. Stuck in a writing rut? Maybe your routine is in a rut as well. Change your exercise schedule, take a new route to work, go to a different grocery store, or shake up the order of your day.
Inspiration is everywhere, so take the time to invest in activities, challenges, or hobbies that inspire you.