What do you do when you’re not feeling inspired?
For me, lack of creative inspiration manifests in compulsive house cleaning (a revealing tell for my friends and family, as I hate cleaning), eating copious amounts of chocolate ice cream, and staring morosely at my computer screen.
Alas, these activities rarely produce the desired effect–brilliant, creative ideas sure to stun my readers and critics alike.
After a usually ineffective trial period, I’m forced to resort to more drastic (or at least intentional) methods for sparking creative inspiration. Every creative is different, but I’m happy to share some clever schemes that have worked for me.
Get outside. I find nature, in all its beautiful variety, tremendously inspiring no matter my current medium. I walk beside a stream and before I know it I’m concocting a short story about vengeful nymphs. I come to a particularly beautiful setting and suddenly the protagonist of my novel and her love interest are having a deep and meaningful conversation against the stunning backdrop.
Often, I’ll take my camera on a walk and determine to open my eyes and see the beauty all around me. Whether that’s a stunning Kansas sunset or a few fragile spring blossoms on a trellis, it never fails to inspire.
Phone a friend. I don’t mean literally (though that could work too). Borrow ideas and inspiration from other writers and creators. Read a new or favorite book. Watch a brilliantly-written TV show. Browse quotes or photography or pottery or art on Pinterest (though be aware of the time-sucking power of that particular black hole).
When you’re lacking creative inspiration, let others’ creative work inspire you. Maybe you can visit an art museum or a library, go on a field trip related to your book, or interview someone with your character’s profession or life experience.
Change it up.
Sometimes all that’s needed to keep the creative juices flowing is to change things up every once in awhile. Maybe you just need a change of scenery. If you’re struggling to get the words to come, try relocating to a coffee shop or even a park bench. Maybe you need to try writing the problem scene from another character’s point of view.
Whatever issue is causing writer’s block, try injecting it with a bit of change that can lead to a fresh, unique perspective.
Pick the low-hanging fruit.
This may sound like cheating, but hey, if it works! Struggling with a particularly difficult or emotional scene? Write a scene you’re confident will be fun or easy to bring together, and then come back to your problem child. Do the small things you know you can do to build your confidence back up and get the creative juices coming.
Once you’ve reminded yourself that you actually CAN write and your characters aren’t ALWAYS so difficult, you can go back to face your writer’s block scene with fresh encouragement and determination.
Go back to the plan.
Or maybe you don’t have one, and that’s why you’re stuck. If worse come to worse, go back to the bare bones of your story and remember what it’s all about. Clarify your premise, and remind yourself of your story’s message. Work on your story outline and fill in any plot holes that may be causing a mental block. Consider if you’re trying to make a character do something for the sake of the plot that is “out of character” for them.
Maybe it’s your life that isn’t organized and it’s bleeding over into your creative work. I know I can’t work as productively if there’s a mess sitting around. Sometimes I just need to sit down and make lists and tidy up my writing space (see compulsive cleaning mentioned above) before I can focus on the story.
There are as many ways to break writer’s block and regain creative inspiration as there are different types of writers. But you don’t have to go to extreme measures to find new inspiration. Often it’s just waiting in your everyday life.
What inspires you in your everyday life? How do you break writer’s block?