Where do you find your Inspiration?

Where do you find your Inspiration?

Following on from last week’s post “Was Thomas Edison Right?” I started thinking about inspiration. I want to know where you find your inspiration? When your well of idea’s dries up, you are staring at a blank page with no creative flow, or you hit writers block during a project, where do you go or how do you spark those creative thoughts again? How do you overcome the dreaded idea drought?

No matter how much you love writing, and are enjoying your current writing project there will always be times when you suffer from a lack of inspiration. I know I do. I have a myriad of different sources for re-sparking the idea process to help the words flow again. For me, it depends on the mood I am in and also why I am suffering from the so called writers block, which technique I use. Every person is different, so will find different means and ways to find inspiration. Below are a few of my favourites that I have found invaluable during my writing journey and career.

Writing Warm-Ups

There are hundreds of writing warm-up exercises that are designed to loosen up your creative muscles and aid flow of thought. Some of my favourites are free writing, word jar and random word link. I find that they help me to relax into my writing, so when I turn back to my current project the ideas and words flow so fast my hands can barely keep up typing.

Books

I love to read. I could spend hours and hours curled up in one spot with a good book. And one of the best things about reading is you can draw inspiration and ideas from the plot, characters, setting, dialogue or themes of the book. If you find you are stuck, try reading a book by your favourite author or even branch out into a different genre.

Movies

Much like reading, movies can inspire great ideas for your next book. You may enjoy the lead character so much you decide to model your main character on them. Or a certain scene or dialogue may set off those creative sparks and before you know it you have outlined your next book!

Art

I don’t know about you, but I find looking at photos, prints, sculptures and paintings to be a great source of inspiration. What story is the artist trying to say? What emotions are they conveying? What does the scene/character/setting tell you? What would happen next? You can ask these questions, and more. Write it down if you want, you never know your next story may start taking form.

Blogs

Reading other blogs on any topic you wish can help jolt your brain into creative mode. Whether you are stuck for ideas for a blog, article, novel, and short piece or content, someone else out there is sure to have some inspiration for you.

History

Don’t know what your next novel should be? Try reading up on some history. There are many stories waiting to be told, whether fiction or non-fiction. Sad, happy, tragic, triumph, good and evil; our history holds many different themes and rich characters that combine to create inspirational stories.

Honouring our soldiers, Australian War Memorial, ACT

Honouring our soldiers, Australian War Memorial, ACT

Maheno Shipwreck, Fraser Island, QLD

Maheno Shipwreck, Fraser Island, QLD

Exercise

I find turning my mind away from writing for a while is a great way to develop more ideas. Go for a run, to the gym, a yoga class or any form of exercise you fancy and work out your physical muscles. Sometimes the ideas hit me whilst I am working out, other times they don’t hit until I am in front of the computer or journal again. Regardless, exercise is a great way to clear your head and work out any frustrations you have with your writing.

Walking/Nature

Take a stroll outdoors and marvel at the great outdoors. Appreciate the beauty of the landscape around you, whether it is rural or city. Use it to clear your mind and as a source of inspiration. Write what you see, smell, hear and feel.

Autumn colours

Autumn colours

Cross by the Lake

Cross by the Lake

Walking along the beach at Jarvis Bay

Walking along the beach at Jarvis Bay

Journal

Writing in a journal has long been recommended as a source of inspiration and a way of keeping your ideas together. It is a great way to get all the junk clogging up your brain out. Cultivating the habit of writing in your journal daily helps to clarify your thoughts, and ensures you never forget a great idea again! Write down your thoughts, inspirations, over heard dialogue, plot ideas, characters, dreams, or anything else you want. Read back through your journal whenever you hit a slow patch or writers’ block for ideas and inspiration.

Shower

I seem to always have my best ideas when I am in the shower, which is unfortunate as there is no easy way to record them whilst showering. It is also a great way to relax tired and achy muscles from hunching over a computer.

People Watching

People are always a great source of inspiration. Find a place to sit where you can quietly observe those around you. Listen to the way they speak, walk, laugh and sit. You can develop characters from those around you. Not to mention you may overhear some great story that serves as inspiration.

And finally…good old Google!

Simply search the topic you are currently writing on and you can find tons of great resources to help you out.

 

So there you have a few of my favourite techniques to help with inspiration and creativity. I would love to hear where and how you find inspiration!

 

 

 

Warm-up your creative muscle!

Warm-Up Your Creative Muscle

You stretch before exercise so why not “stretch” before exerting your creative muscle? Warming up before beginning whatever writing project you are currently working on can assist with flow of thought and productivity. It helps to eliminate distractions and limber up your mind.

It may sound like a bizarre concept, but in many artistic and creative pursuits people warm-up. A singer will perform throat exercises to loosen their vocal cords; an artist will draw rough sketches to warm-up. So what can a writer do?

There are many different writing warm-up exercises you can employ. I have briefly described a few exercises I find useful below; however, you can click on the link to go through to a more detailed explanation of each warm-up. These are just a small sample of what I have found worked for me. There are so many more out there, and you can even develop your own. It is simply a matter of finding what works best for you and your writing style.

  • Journaling – helps to stimulate thoughts and record ideas.
  • Free Writing – write non-stop whatever thoughts fly into your heard for a set amount of time.
  • Word Jar – have a jar full of random words, pick one out and write about it for a certain length of time.
  • Random word link – Pick 3 random words and link them together in a short story or paragraph.

It doesn’t matter which one or how many warm-up activities you choose to use, the point of them is to get the writing process started and the words rolling. Generally speaking, getting started is the most difficult part of writing. It is much easier to carry over this flow of words and thoughts the warm-up exercises produce into your current project when your mind has been engaged in this manner.

To further enhance your writing ability, creativity and productivity form a routine that includes warm-up time. A routine that incorporates a warm-up can help activate the right frame of mind to approach your work. It is easy to use these exercises as another excuse to procrastinate, so be sure to set a time limit on how long you will warm-up for. About 10-20minutes is an ideal length so that you relax into your writing and hopefully when you start your project you wont be staring at a blank screen for long.

HELPFUL SITES

As mentioned earlier there are many different warm-up activities you can perform before (or during) writing. Here is a quick list of sites with some great exercises and ideas for warming up.

10 Writing Warm-Up Exercises – Writers Inkwell

Don’t Ever Write Without This Writer’s Warm-Up – ProBlogger

5 Great Writing Warm Up Activities…And What They Lead To – Adam Simpson

Writing Warm-Ups – WriteShop

Experiment and mix it up until you find a routine and warm-up that suits your needs and writing style. It may seem like a lot of hard work now, but you will be grateful when you settle into it and discover how much time it really saves. You will greatly reduce the amount of time you stare at a blank screen waiting for inspiration to hit. And if you find that at any time during your writing you get stuck, you can use one of the activities to loosen up and get the words flowing again.

Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up.
Jane Yolen