6 Resources for Writing Inspiration

 Waiting for Inspiration?

Do you ever feel you lack inspiration? Or are you someone who starts the New Year with amazing goals and manages to keep the creative juices flowing all year round? Most of us belong to the first category. Writing, whether it’s fiction, non-fiction, a poem  a blog, or even a journal entry, requires a certain amount of inspiration to even get us started. And there we immediately hit the nail on the head: Get started!!! 

Inspiration eludes me today...

The First Shitty Draft

If every journey begins with a first step, so every piece of writing begins with one word. One word becomes a phrase, a sentence, a paragraph – you get the picture. The first shitty draft is important for all writers. Get the bare bones of the blog, article, essay or story down. It’s particularly important for novelists who are working on a long haul proposition. But, whatever you’re writing, it’s important to get that first shitty draft written, otherwise you’ll get bogged down in a bunch of second guessing, plot angst and a passel of procrastination.

 6 Resources For Inspiration

Okay, so you’re finally in front of the computer after your third cup of coffee, and the dog has been walked till it’s poor little legs have all but fallen off. And still your mind is a blank.

First step – don’t worry!!!  Inspiration is all around you, you just need to keep an open mind and be proactive. Here are 6 resources to use, when you’re searching for inspiration.

1. Newspapers

Newspapers B&W (3)

Newspapers B&W (3) (Photo credit: NS Newsflash)

Yes they’re all full of bad news, and you might wonder how an article on yet another economic downturn be inspiring. Keep an open mind for a moment.  An economic downturn means unemployment, which means peoples lives change , and they struggle to find work, which can lead to domestic problems, and an argument that might mean the end of a marriage that was failing anyway, or one partner says to hell and has an affair… you see where I’m going with this. The heart of any fiction is conflict. That one article has provided a whole barrel of conflict.

I find it’s the small stories that peak my interest in newspapers. “91 year grandmother dies while boarding a bus.” Horrible headline, but makes me wonder what happened to the women in her life span, and how did she manage to live long enough and remain fit enough to catch a bus at 91 years old.

My favorite headline of all time was in a local borough paper in London, the Hackney Gazette. The headline was “Lucky Victim Stabbed 7 Times”.  I mean really – you couldn’t make that stuff up.

But if you think this is all a load of baloney, then think ‘In Cold Blood’  by Truman Capote. Not only a bestseller but a successful film. Real events give the inspiration for an amazing amount of imagination – or serious discussion.

 2. Photographs

Self Portrait circa 1957, with motor bike - Re...

circa 1957, with motor bike – Restored photograph (Photo credit: Cross Du

 

 

My personal favorite are old photographs, and the stories behind the people in them. With Flickr, Pinterest, Instagram and endless other internet resources, the availability of still images to ponder over and speculate about and travel to a different physical location in your minds eye, is endless.

 

 

3. Books

Reader of novels

Reader of novels (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before we learned to become writers, the chances are we were all readers. And why not learn from the best. I  covered this issue in more detail in the post Authors An Infinite Resource, but when I’m struggling over how to write a particular scene or indeed what to write, I always find inspiration in reading a good book. It doesn’t have to be anything to do with what I’m writing, but a good writer is always inspiring.

If you’re a blogger then read another blogger’s work that you admire.

 

 

 

 

4. Family Affairs

Family portrait: Key West, Florida

Family portrait: Key West, Florida (Photo credit: State Library and Archives of Florid

So you think your life isn’t interesting enough to write about? Don’t be so sure. You know what happened so there’s no suspense for you, but your readers may be more interested in things you consider mundane than you think. It can be hard for us to write about personal experiences that have been traumatic, but that’s an individual choice. The issue you had to deal with might be  something other readers can relate to. The beauty of using your own experiences for inspiration, means you can slack off for the most part on the research. But the most important part of using your own life as a resource, is you have the power to change your own past. Fictionalize it – and I’m not simply talking about changing names, change what happened.

 

 

 

6. Music

Music lesson: teacher (right, inscription: ???...

Music lesson: teacher (right, inscription: ? and his student (left, ?). Between them, a boy  narrates a text. Attic red-figure hydria, ca. 510 BC. From Vulci. (Photo credit: Wikiped

 

As we all know, music plays to one of our strongest of the senses -pun intended. You can hear the first few bars of a song and be immediately transported to a different period in your life, or have an emotion grab you by surprise. I like to feature music in my novels, as many other authors do. Murakami is one who comes to mind, featuring jazz quite prominently in many of his books (He owned a jazz club in Japan, which he gave up to become a writer.)

Music does not have to be an actual feature in your work, but listening to music, and different kinds of music, will affect what you write as you are writing.

 How to Maintain Your Inspiration

This is the easy part – write. Then write some more. It’s really as simple as it sounds. If you stop, your creative juices will dry up, and trying to get inspired will be that much harder. I’m a  big believer in little and often when it comes to writing. That will mean  different things for different people. Some writers have a very rigid everyday writing regime. I don’t always write every day, but I’m often sorry when I haven’t. If you like routines, then find one for your writing, even if it’s only ten minutes a day. Even for the most time-challenged person, ten minutes a day is an achievable goal. But if you’re like me and prefer to be more freeform, go with that, but be sure not to lose sight of what you’re trying to achieve.

What do you do when you are lacking inspiration? Do you have tricks you play with yourself to keep yourself inspired? 

Come join the discussion, and please share this post on your favorite social media. 

Many Thanks!

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Comments

  1. What a wonderful post! I never though of looking at the daily newspaper that way – you are right and i will try it, thanks!

    I am not like you – writing on daily basis, i mean. Maybe because i blog for fun (mostly) and don’t make my living writing. However, i have found that when i have a good idea for a blog post but don;t have the time at the moment to dive in and explore my inspiration, i open a new word doc, i draft the idea and some bullet points for later. This way, when i return later on to write, the inspiration hits me instantly – because i refresh my memory with the random notes – and i pick it up where i left it.

    Thanks for a great post – buffered it!

    • Thank you Diana. You have given me my first comment for 2014!. Jotting things down the moment you think of them is really important. I always have either a notebook or use notes on my phone, as I know I’ll never remember it. I actually don’t write every day, but envy those who are so diligent. Thanks for stopping by:-)
      A.K.Andrew recently posted..6 Resources for Writing InspirationMy Profile

  2. Fantastic post! And here I thought I was the only one who looked at newspapers for inspiration!!!! Books have long been a favorite as I have always been inspired by great writing! Yet photos sort of piqued my interest! I never thought of that! I’m off to dig out some oldies now…and I thank you.
    Jacqueline Gum (Jacquie) recently posted..Where’s The Justice…Great Gams!My Profile

    • Well I’m pleased to hear I’m not the only one who looks at newspapers as well:-) Often in a photo it’s something in the background that is not necessarily the focus of the photo that’s the real interesting part. Thank you so much for your comment Jacquie.
      A.K.Andrew recently posted..6 Resources for Writing InspirationMy Profile

  3. Great resources for inspiration. Love them. Never thought of photographs as inspiration before. I will try that.

  4. Boy I needed tho read this right now. Although I have a lot of stories to tell, I have had a serious lack of motivation. I have had a awesome holiday. I planned well and set up posts well in advance to allow time to do both. I think I just a bit worn out. Those advance posts are now winding down and it’s time to get back to it. Sigh! I know you’re right. Just start with a word and then it will flow. Thanks for the reminder and these great suggestions my friend. 🙂
    Susan Cooper recently posted..Bogle Petite Sirah: WineMy Profile

  5. I like the idea of finding inspiration. I just joined an FB group called One Watercolor a Day. The assignments in the book of that name should keep me going for a while. I don’t have problems with inspiration, but with choppy time – I have time for a bit, then work gets busy, family gets busy, and I need to focus on those. Then I get a bit of peace to be creative … Just love it when the creativity actually produces something I like. It’s the frustrating outcomes that can make one not want to continue. You could write a post about when your writing is crappy or you think it’s crappy or someone who’s opinion value think it’s crappy. The “maybe I’m just not good enough” syndrome.
    Leora recently posted..Therapy Websites: Safe and InvitingMy Profile

    • Your comment is fantastic Leora – you’ve definitely inspired me for another post! Seriously. One Watercolor a day sounds like a great project, though Id find it hard to attain. I definitely think that time is the biggest bugbear for most people for any number of reasons. Hard to be creative in short spurts, but if that’s all we we have, then we have to do that. Thank you so much for your comment.
      A.K.Andrew recently posted..6 Resources for Writing InspirationMy Profile

  6. Great post, A.K. I’m lucky in that I rarely lack inspiration when it comes to my writing. Sometimes, I just lack the time or energy to do it! I find that blogging is an excellent way for writers to practice finding their voice or unique style. I really think that blogging helps keep me inspired. Cheers!
    Doreen Pendgracs recently posted..one major goal for 2014My Profile

    • Thanks Doreen – time really is the biggest drawback for most people – that or energy , which has the same effect. I agree that blogging keeps me inspired, though in truth it’s other bloggers like yourself who really do that. Thanks as always 🙂
      A.K.Andrew recently posted..6 Resources for Writing InspirationMy Profile

  7. Hi A.K.

    I’ll drop in a tip I just love using –

    Take a joke or piece of a story and drop it somewhere in the intro or title. Foreshadow it.

    Then, hit on it hard about 2/3s of the way down.

    This little piece of structure goes a long way in terms of keeping readers around…and looking clever 🙂

    Great post, and best of luck in 2014!

    Greg from BHB
    Greg recently posted..9 Answers to “Why Do You Blog?”My Profile

  8. I do so love this post. After a one month break I’m back to work on my thriller and if I had a dog today his poor little legs would have fallen off. I may have to read the newspaper for inspiration to see if I can find someone lucky enough to have been stabbed seven times! Although I could never actually use that in a book. Who’d believe it?

    • It really is hard to get back into things when you’ve had a break. The most bizarre occurrences often are true, but obviously in that case they were saying how lucky he was to be alive. Glad you found it helpful and good luck with getting back into your writing groove.
      A.K.Andrew recently posted..6 Resources for Writing InspirationMy Profile

  9. I don’t even get a print newspaper anymore, but I used to collect funny headlines and quirky stories for inspiration. I still have that folder somewhere. I like to Google images and play the “what if” game. I also have a huge stack of laminated Nat Geo pictures that I used for use for Language Arts and Creative writing classroom activities. Images are always a powerful source for me. I’ve also thought about penning a short story inspired by Dylan’s Ballad of Hollis Brown.
    Jeri recently posted..JeriWB Blog Resolutions 2014My Profile

    • Yes, it’s not quite the same scrolling through bookmarks rather than clippings. I rarely get newsprint myself now & when I do it feels like I’m holding a treasure trove. Great idea to use Nat Geo and of course I love the idea of a Dylan song sparking a story. All good tips Jeri. Thankyou.
      A.K.Andrew recently posted..6 Resources for Writing InspirationMy Profile

  10. Great article, AK!

    Personally move between having an abundance of inspiration and ideas and needing to get inspired. The resources you mention are important. Above all news and books inspire me. Having said that I get ideas when I least expect if from all kinds of sources. Not least when I am occupied doing something pleasant such as walking. J.P. Morgan got most ideas and inspiration when he was playing solitaire.
    Catarina recently posted..Can Mary Barra lead General Motors?My Profile

  11. Wow. What a treasure trove A.K. Thanks. I particularly like listening to music to get inspiration. Most of the time I can find inspiration that spring up from my daily meditation but other times, it is sad to admit, I have to feed it from outside. My take away is that it’s ok to have more outside influences for inspiration.

    Thanks and Happy New Year!
    Patricia Weber recently posted..2014 Mantras or Intentions, instead of Resolutions or RevolutionsMy Profile

    • Thanks so much Pat:-) Meditation is a great way- as I said to Catarina, we have to have quiet time to absorb what we’ve already taken in. But sometimes we need to grab an idea quickly, so having as many sources is important. I’m happy people have come up with lots of other suggestions too.
      A.K.Andrew recently posted..6 Resources for Writing InspirationMy Profile

  12. Great inspiration! I always thought I was weird for basing a whole post on a phrase that came to mind. Glad to know I’m not alone! I love these ideas. My problem is that I like to procrastinate by reading, or listening to music. It’s hard to know when to stop gathering inspiration, and start writing.

    • You are so right Meredith – I think part of that procrastination – for me at least- comes from not validating my writing as much as I might. And getting the balance right between getting inspired and putting it into practise, is a fine one at times. So glad you no longer think you’re weird – ha, ha! Thanks so much for stopping by.
      A.K.Andrew recently posted..6 Resources for Writing InspirationMy Profile

  13. What an excellent post. I love these tips. I can totally see how they would work and I have Pinned them for future reference. Thank you!!
    Debra Yearwood recently posted..Random Acts Of BrandingMy Profile

  14. A.K. — I LOVE the term “first shitty draft.” I plan to use it hereafter. How true. Just get the words down on paper and stop being frozen at the keyboard. One trick I use when I’m paralyzed is to simply hit a bunch of keys and type a bunch of jibberish. It seems to get me unstuck. I find inspiration in the news all the time. When I took my first blogging course, my teacher told you can turn just about any news story into a blog post no matter your subject area. So she gave us all the assignment of writing a post about the death of Michael Jackson. I felt badly about his death but I wasn’t a particular fan.. Then it struck me that he was a great communicator. That’s what I do for a living and once I understood that the words just flowed. Loved your post.
    Jeannette Paladino recently posted..Favorite Blog Posts From Write Speak Sell in 2013My Profile

    • First shitty draft really is a great term. I first heard it while I was doing my Certificate in Creative Writing.
      Thanks so much for your praise- means a lot coming from you, that’s for sure. I liked your analogy re: Michael Jackson, tho I was surprised your first blogging course was so recent!
      A.K.Andrew recently posted..6 Resources for Writing InspirationMy Profile

  15. Thanks for these reminders. Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees. 🙂
    Cheryl recently posted..Edible ‘Weeds’ In Your Own Back YardMy Profile

  16. Those are some great resources.
    Jason B recently posted..January Debt UpdateMy Profile

  17. I had a big chuckle at the headline “Lucky Victim Stabbed 7 Times”!
    I find inspiration from all around. It is weird, I wont realise it at the time, but overnight a blog post will develop in my head. If I am lucky I can remember what triggered it and refer back to it, other times I just have to go with where my weird thoughts take me 🙂
    Mostly though as my post is about my sickness journey, the inspiration comes for every new technique or avenue I am pursuing and trying to find some positivity in it all.
    Becc recently posted..Do I have to be right?My Profile

    • Glad it made you smile Becc. It’s strange how inspiration just pops out of nowhere for us. But it’s a changing landscape I think,as we have new ideas coming from new stimulus. As in your case finding new options to stay positive. Keep at it Becc & thanks for your comment
      A.K.Andrew recently posted..6 Resources for Writing InspirationMy Profile