No matter how much you love writing, there will always be days when you need inspiration from one muse or another.
In fact, I would argue that inspiration is not just a desirable thing, it’s an integral part of the writing process.
Every writer needs to find inspiration to produce inspired writing. And sometimes, it can come from the unlikeliest sources.
Blogs. This is one of my favorites, of course. Aside from this blog, there are dozens of great blogs on writing and every topic under the sun. I like to read about what works for others — it inspires me to the action!
Books. Maybe my favorite overall. I read writers I love (read about my current loves) and then I steal from them, analyze their writing, get inspired by their greatness. Fiction is my favorite, but I’ll devour anything. If you normally read just a couple of your favorite authors, try branching out into something different. You just might find new inspiration.
Overheard dialog. If I’m anywhere public, whether it be at a park or a mall or my workplace, sometimes I’ll eavesdrop on people. Not in a gross way or anything, but I’ll just keep quiet, and listen. I love hearing other people have conversations. Sometimes it doesn’t happen on purpose — you can’t help but overhear people sometimes. If you happen to overhear a snippet of interesting dialog, jot it down in your writing journal as soon as possible. It can serve as a model or inspiration for later writing.
Magazines. Good magazines aren’t always filled with great writing, but you can usually find one good piece of either fiction or non-fiction. Good for its writing style, its voice, its rhythm, and ability to pull you along to the end. These pieces inspire me. And bad magazines, while perhaps not the best models for writing, can still be inspirations for ideas for good blog posts. These magazines, as they don’t draw readers with great writing, find interesting story angles to attract an audience.
Movies. Sometimes, while watching a movie, a character will say something so interesting that I’ll say, “That would make a great blog post!” or “I have to write that in my writing journal!” Sometimes screenwriters can write beautiful dialog. Other times I get inspired by the incredible camera work, the way that a face is framed by the camera, the beauty of the landscape captured on film.
Writing groups. Whether online or in your community, writing groups are great ways to get energy and motivation for your writing. My best short stories were done in a writing group in my local college (a great place to look for such groups, btw), as we read out our work to the group, critiqued them, and made suggestions. The work of the other writers inspired me to do better.
Writing journal. I highly recommend this for any writer. It doesn’t have to be fancy, or something you write in every day. Just a plain notebook will do, although a nice journal can be motivating. Write down thoughts and inspirations and quotes and snippets of good writing you find and pieces of dialog and plot ideas and new characters. Then go back to this journal when you need ideas or inspiration.
Freewriting. One of the best ways to get unstuck if you’re uninspired. Just start writing. Anything. It doesn’t matter. Don’t edit, don’t pause, don’t think. Just write and let it flow. You’ll end up with a lot of garbage, probably, but it’ll help you get out of your rut and you might just write some really good stuff among all that garbage.
Similar to freewriting, but instead of writing prose you’re writing ideas. Just let them flow. Speed and quantities more important than quality. Within this brainstorm of ideas, you’ll most likely find a few nuggets of greatness. One of my favorite ways to get ideas.