As a writer, it’s easy to feel like you’ve completely exhausted all your ideas when you need to be creative all the time. The good news is, you can never run out of creativity! As John Steinbeck once said, “Ideas are like rabbits, you get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen”.
If you’ve lost inspiration for a project you’re working on, or you’re looking for some tips to get motivated to write, here are some activities you can try that will help you out of that creative rut.
1. Read, read, read
Perhaps the most obvious of these tips, reading is a great way to reignite your creativity. Sometimes, the best ideas are sparked from a story someone else has already written. If you plan on writing novels, reading is a great way to help you remember what you’re working towards: getting your own book on the shelves.
Read something similar
If you’re stuck for inspiration, reading something similar to the story you’re trying to write can help reignite your creativity. Reading work that is similar to your own can help you immerse yourself in the genre or tone.
Read something different
Reading something completely different to your own work can also help kickstart your inspiration. Sometimes when you’re reading something you’re used to, it’s harder to pick up on the genre tropes or writing techniques within the book.
Stepping out of your comfort zone can give you a fresh perspective, making it easier to come up with new ideas.
Re-read a favourite
We all have that book that inspired us to read and write, and picking it up again can help you remember exactly why you’re trying to become a writer. Re-reading a favourite is a great way to get back to your roots and remind yourself why you’re in the industry.
Read a bestseller or prize-winner
Bestselling books are bestselling for a reason: there’s something about them that’s working perfectly. The same thing goes for books that win prizes. Reading these books is a great way to see what other authors have done to create success, which can in turn lead to a lot of inspiration.
Read a book on writing
Books on writing aren’t for everyone, but there are some that can be extremely helpful. Two that I find myself constantly reaching for are Wonderbook by Jeff Vandermeer and Save the Cat by Blake Snyder.
Wonderbook is particularly useful for writers creating an imaginary world, and its detailed and intricate illustrations make it a great reading experience. While Save the Cat is described as a script writing book, it’s really a storytelling book and is great if you’re having troubles with your plot.
2. Watch movies and TV shows
If you’re trying to read but the words aren’t jumping off the page, maybe it’s time to try something visual. Using movies and television as inspiration works in a similar way to reading – you’re immersing yourself in great stories.
Watch something similar
Watching something similar to your own writing is particularly useful for genre writing, such as historical fiction. Seeing the unique fashion and settings from different time periods in a visual way is a great way to inspire your own descriptions of the time.
This doesn’t just apply to historical fiction, either. Watching something similar to your piece in genre, style or even theme is a great way to get new ideas.
Watch for dialogue and structure
If there’s one thing great movies and television shows do well, it’s scene structure. Every on-screen scene follows the same formula, which is something you can apply to any form of writing, not just scripts.
Good and realistic dialogue is essential for good storytelling. While this is true for all kinds of stories, it’s particularly true of movies and television shows due to their reliance on verbal communication between characters.
There’s plenty of cringe-worthy dialogue out there, but successful movies and shows wouldn’t be successful if their dialogue wasn’t up to scratch.
3. Jump on Pinterest
Pinterest is a social media network that allows you to create collections of related images. It’s a tool commonly used by authors to pin images related to their settings, characters and ideas all in the one place, as well as to promote their books and connect with their audience.
Create your own board
Pinterest allows users to create an unlimited number of boards. Try searching for images or quotes related to writing and ‘pin’ these to your own writing inspiration board. This gives you something to come back whenever you’ve lost your motivation to write.
As well as an inspiration board, you can use Pinterest for your own fiction writing and novels. Try searching for images of people who look like your characters’ key descriptions, or locations that are similar to your key settings. Having something visual to describe can make writing more simple when you’re feeling less inspired.
Follow your favourite authors’ boards
A lot of authors have made the Pinterest boards for their own books visible to the public, so check your favourite author’s website to see if they have a Pinterest account. If not, look through this list of young adult authors who use Pinterest, and see how they have used the platform as a tool for their writing.
4. Watch videos on YouTube
YouTube has a wealth of video resources for writing, and sometimes spending an hour watching other people reach their writing goals is exactly the motivation you need to feel inspired about your own stories!
Watch NaNoWriMo vlogs and resources
National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) occurs each year in November, and is an opportunity for writers to start and finish the first draft of a 50,000 word novel. NaNoWriMo has their own YouTube channel that is filled with videos about writing advice and inspiration.
Many people who participate in NaNoWriMo also produce videos detailing their writing experience. A simple YouTube search for ‘NaNoWriMo vlogs’ will unearth hours worth of content to help motivate you to write.
Subscribe to author channels
Many authors also have YouTube channels dedicated to their writing process. Subscribing to these channels alerts you whenever they post a new video and is completely free. Have a look at the channels of New York Times Bestselling authors, Lindsay Cummings and John Green, to get you started.
5. Explore the blogging world
If watching videos isn’t your thing, turning to blogs could help you find the creativity boost you need. The internet is filled with blogs and articles about writing, so you’re bound to find something to inspire you.
Read author blogs
In this digital age, it’s very likely that your favourite author has a website with a blog section. Have a look at the things they post about; they might have written about their writing process for your favourite book, or even about how they find inspiration.
In the unlikely event that your favourite author doesn’t have a blog, take a look at Marissa Meyer’s website, the author of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series. In particular, she details her writing process, from idea to published novel, in a series of blog posts.
Websites on writing
Apart from authors, there are a wealth of writing resources online, including Writer’s Edit! Other websites that could be useful in your quest for inspiration include the Australian Writers’ Centre, the Writer’s Digest and your state writers’ centre website.
6. Step outside
We’ve all heard the saying, ‘write what you know’. Living is probably the biggest inspiration for the majority of writers, so it’s important you actively engage in your own life.
Many people use people-watching to pass the time. It’s hard not to enjoy eavesdropping on the couple having an argument at the table next to you, or that group at the bar whispering behind hands. These snippets can seem strange out of context, but it’s this strangeness that could inspire you to write.
If you’re not already an active people-watcher, try heading out to a place packed with people and spend an hour observing what they do. You can do this in your local cafe, a fancy restaurant or a busy shopping centre; wherever there are people, there’s something to inspire you!
Even if you’ve been living in the same place your entire life, there are definitely local places you still haven’t visited. You have so much to gain by becoming a tourist in your own town. Take note of the street names and the places people meet up; these are things that might be useful in your writing.
If you have no idea where to start, check out your city’s tourist website; it will be filled with every possible thing to do, see or visit in your local area.
7. Try using writing prompts
Completing a writing prompt is a great way to get into the creative zone. Prompts are useful warm-up tools writers can use to stimulate their creativity before sitting down to work on their projects. You never know what a prompt is going to spark!
Collating your ideas
Writing prompts can be a great way to generate new ideas. If you complete all of your writing prompt exercises in the same place, soon you’re going to have a folder, document or notebook full of unique and exciting ideas. There’s nothing more inspiring than visually realising how many ideas you have!
8. Listen to music
For some people, writing without music is impossible. Music can be a great source of inspiration for writers due to the high level of emotion some music invokes.
Create your own playlist
If you’re a music person, you will probably already have thousands of songs at your fingertips, waiting to be put into a writing playlist. There are several ways you can go about creating a writing playlist, but the two most common themes are tone and soundtracks.
Create a tone-based playlist
Creating a playlist that suits the tone of your novel can be a great way to get inspired and in the mood to work on your piece. If you’re writing a romance novel, for example, listening to love ballads and breakup pop songs might be exactly what you need to make your fingers itch for the keyboard.
Create a lyric-free playlist
Another popular writing playlist trend is listening to music without any lyrics. Music without lyrics is less distracting and can help increase your productivity rate. Listening to classical music has a wealth of other benefits, but if classical music isn’t your thing, film soundtracks could be the way to go.
A lot of movies have orchestral soundtracks available online, via YouTube or music services such as Spotify and iTunes. The great thing about movie soundtracks is that each song varies in tone and tempo, meaning there’s the song to suit whatever kind of scene you’re writing!
Copy an author’s playlist
If you don’t feel like creating your own playlist, consider listening to a playlist created by an author. Many authors publish their own playlists for certain books they’ve written. Try searching your favourite author’s website or blog to see if they’ve mentioned a playlist they use.
9. Keep a journal
Journaling can be a great way to keep track of your ideas and thoughts. There are so many journaling styles, and there’s no right or wrong way to keep a journal, so there’s something for everyone. There are also many benefits of keeping a journal, including igniting your creativity, that make journaling a valuable tool for writers.
A writer’s bible is a place for you to write down your ideas, note your writing progress, and keep track of the rules of your novel’s world. If you’re not sure where to start, Pilot has created a journal specifically for writers to help you achieve your 2017 writing goals.
Bullet journaling is the latest journaling craze to take the writing world by storm, but if you still have no idea what it is or how to do it, check out our complete guide to bullet journaling. Bullet journaling is a great way to get all your ideas down on paper quickly and efficiently.
For those of you who are more visually minded, art journaling might be for you. Art journaling involves filling pages with artwork instead of words, and is a great way to get your creative juices flowing.
It can be difficult to remain inspired when you’re writing every day, but there are so many different techniques to try to ensure your well of creativity never feels empty.
How do you hit refresh on your creativity? Share your methods in the comments below!