“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club!”
A lack of inspiration is one of the biggest pitfalls to anyone’s writing career. It doesn’t matter what else you do to make sure you have the right time and environment in which to write, if you haven’t got any inspiration you will just sit there twiddling your thumbs until doomsday…
Every writer requires inspiration from time to time, particularly if you want to produce inspired writing. But the trouble is there is no hard and fast rules for how you get hold of some that mythical fairy dust so you fly away to your writing Neverland.
For me, it came down to simply changing my daily routine. As I said in my very first Midweek Tip “Finding Time around your Job” (July 16th), I was struggling to regularly write until I changed my timetable. Knowing that I had work everyday, I decided to get up extra early and commit to writing for an hour before getting ready for work. This had a good effect for two reasons, firstly it would take a little while for my brain to get going in the morning so I would more than likely spot something that I wouldn’t normally spot if I was wide awake which would then be the basis of my writing for that day. Secondly, because I was preparing myself for the idea that I would be writing every morning for a set period, I genuinely believe that my brain started hunting down ideas so that the loss of an hour’s sleep would not go to waste…
But for some people, it isn’t as easy as simply changing your routine, although I would advise it if any of you are ever suffering from long term writer’s block, if for no other reason than to see if it works…
So here are some of my top tips for Hunting Down Inspiration
And I don’t mean Facebook statuses! That is just procrastinating! Seriously, writers waste so much time on Facebook under the guise of using their friends as inspiration when everyone knows you’re just snooping. So do yourself a favour and make a habit out of ignoring Facebook when you’re supposed to be writing. You’ll thank me for it.
What I’m talking about is other people’s blogs, short stories, magazines, novels. Read as much as you can. It only takes one sentence like “my printer is out of ink again” for an idea to form in your mind and you’re giving your brain a good work out in the process.
And I don’t mean your favourite film or television programme. That is just procrastinating! If you end up watching a film that you’ve seen a dozen times or a television programme that runs on a very regular format, your brain will start to switch off because it already knows the deal.
Instead, find something that you wouldn’t normally write about. If you don’t like history, find a historical documentary online. If you don’t like cars, watch Top Gear. Subject your brain to something completely out of the ordinary and it may completely surprise you about what you want to write about.
And I don’t mean going to pub with your mates. That is just procrastinating!
Go out to the local park and sit on a bench, or get on a train for a few stops and just listen to some of the conversations going on around you. Some of the nuggets that are out there are well and truly priceless. And don’t worry, you’re not eavesdropping on people’s private conversations, you’re researching!
And I don’t mean go off and have fun, watching television, going to theme park or such like. That is just… oh you get the idea.
Go have a shower. Have run or do some other exercise. Got a dog? Go for a long walk with your four legged friend. Most of my best novel and film ideas came to me when I was chasing my parents’ three golden retrievers around a giant meadow. Doing something physical engages a completely different part of your brain and allows the other half to reorganise itself so that when you return to your writing it is ready to go… at least that’s what I like to think anyway.
It may seem fairly silly, but sometimes to best way to get over your writer’s block is to simply sit down and write something. Write a piece of flash fiction using only one syllable words. Write a poem that starts with the line, “Softly, through the clouds she broke”, write a blog post complaining about the fact you can’t write at the moment. Do something to get back into writing again. Nine times out of ten, the simple act of writing something new is enough to trigger your inspiration once again.
And for anyone struggling with writing a novel, here’s an additional little tip from W. Somerset Maugham:
“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are!”