One of the questions I get asked a lot is how to get inspired to write. There are a million ways to go about it, but today I’m sharing 9 that work for me.
I’m not the type of person who is precious about my writing. I set a timer and while that timer is going, I’m focusing on writing. I look at my outline and get a clear idea of where I’m going with my work, and then when I push start on the timer, I go until I hear the buzzer.How to Get Inspired to Write Click To Tweet
I’m a big fan of writing sprints, and I find that using that method keeps me from making excuses. It forces me to figure out what the story needs while I look at the outline, and the timer keeps my hands on the keyboard so I can get the ideas out.
But sometimes, you need a little bit more. Sometimes your brain isn’t synapsing the way you want. And honestly, sometimes you’re too tired or stuck in a rut to get your brain working the way you need it to.
That’s why I’m sharing how to get inspired to write. While these 9 tips definitely won’t turn writing into a walk in the park, they will make it a little easier for you to get your ideas out on paper.
How to Get Inspired to Write
001: Clean up your space and your personal life.
I can’t focus with a messy desk. Or a room where it feels like all the contents are slowly surrounding me. Ideally, I’d always have a dedicated room for writing and that room would be full of stuff that inspires me.
And while it can be easy enough to create the perfect type of physical space, that internal mental space is important too.
How many times have you felt like you couldn’t focus on your writing because of things that are going on in your head and your personal life? (You don’t have to count them.)
If you try to keep your life compartmentalized in silos, you should know that it’s impossible. Problems you have with your boyfriend are going to affect your ability to write. Arguments that you’ve had with your family can stay in your head for days and make it really hard for other ideas to flow.
So if you feel like your personal space or life needs some cleaning up, that might be the key to getting you back on the writing track. This is why cleaning my desk is always a part of my NaNoWriMo prep ritual.
002: Go on a short writing vacation.
We’ve all seen the memes about how you need to focus on one project at a time so you can complete your novel. But what about when you can’t stand the idea of writing another word on your WIP?
May I suggest a writing vacation?Have you ever taken a writing vacation? Click To Tweet
This is where, for one day only, you work on something completely different. If you’re stalled out on a novel, maybe you could work on a nonfiction article for a magazine you’ve been meaning to submit your work to.
Or you could write a blog post.
Or a short story.
It doesn’t really matter what you choose to do. It just matters that you tackle a short project that keeps you in the writing habit and allows you to complete a project. This prevents you from getting demoralized and believing that you can’t actually write.
You can. It’s just that you’re stuck with one project.
And the best part of this method is that after you tackle something completely different, not only is your confidence up, but you usually end up working out why you were struggling in the first place. Then, you can return to your project in a much better state of mind.
003: Schedule a retreat.
I know this isn’t an option that’s open to everyone because it can be expensive. So I want you to be as creative as possible when it comes to this option. There’s no need to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars here. Just find a new place to go.
In the past, I’ve had the opportunity to attend the Writer’s Colony at Dairy Hollow. I’ve also done a solo writing retreat at St. Francis of the Woods in Coyle, Oklahoma. And I do have this here list of affordable writer’s retreats.
But you don’t have to go to a writing-specific location. You can find a cheap Air BnB, or an affordable hotel room. And if it’s the off-season, a lake cabin can be really, really cheap.
The most important thing is that you find a location that works for your writing needs. So, if you need a desk or a table, make sure that your retreat space offers that. Personally, I need a porch to sit on and a coffee maker. So I make sure my retreats always have that.
004: Write now, edit later. Quantity over quality.
Remember that the first draft of everything is shit. So, if you’re writing and you keep deleting the same thing over and over again, you’re not writing.
You can perfect each sentence as you go, but that’s a great way to never get anything done. (DO NOT TRY TO TELL ME HOW TOM ROBBINS WRITES. YOU ARE NOT TOM ROBBINS. TOM ROBBINS DOESN’T READ THIS BLOG.)
So, if you’re stuck in the middle of your WIP, and you find that you’re just super critical of everything that you’re doing, it’s time to sprint it out and worry about editing later.
Remember that you can’t edit a blank page, so you have to get words out on that page. I talked about this in my post about how to write fast, but it’s so important to remember that when you write, you write. When you edit, you edit.
Let yourself write. Give yourself full permission to let the words flow, and you can worry about the edits later.Let yourself write. Give yourself full permission to let the words flow, and you can worry about the edits later. Click To Tweet
005: Listen to something new.
It’s no secret that I like using Ambient Mixer to get work done. But that’s not the only thing I listen to when I’m in the middle of a big writing project.
When I’m writing, I can’t listen to music with lyrics, so I normally stick to Ambient Mixer environments. But when I’m not writing? I like to listen to stuff that keeps me inspired.
I tend to listen to things I loved when I was younger and was much more quixotic about the writing process. It definitely keeps me inspired and reminds me why I got into this writing mess in the first place. But I also try to find something new that scratches that inspiration itch. This is a great time to use platforms like Spotify to create playlists. You can add your favorite old songs as well as songs that remind you of the characters in your story.
006: Hang out with fellow writers.
Let’s be real. Talking about your writing with people who don’t write is not only demoralizing, it’s also a waste of your time.
Sure, you can have non-writerly friends to discuss the non-writerly parts of life with. But if you want someone who understands what you’re going through, knows what it’s like to run into a plot hole when you’re 65% of the way through your novel, and has thoughtful advice to get you out of the problem, then you need a writer.
I’ve talked about how to start a writer’s group before, but I can’t stress enough how important it is.
You don’t have to meet regularly, but it helps. You don’t all have to write the same thing, but it helps. You don’t all have to have the same educational background — and I fully believe you shouldn’t. But you do need to have some writers that can help you re-light the fire when you have no idea what to do with your work, of if you’re not sure about how your work is going.
Find people who do what you do. Go to the library and seek them out. Create a meetup on meetup.com. Take an adult education writing class. Put out your feelers and find some writing friends. Agree to meet occasionally and talk about writing. Exchange pages. Do what you do.
007: Focus on the writing habit and not the writing end goal.
It’s really hard for me to just enjoy the writing process, and that’s because I’m always focusing on the end goal. I think too much about publication and how my work will be received by readers. But this doesn’t give me the chance to figure out the story for myself.
It’s much more important that I tell the story I want to tell, and not the story I think some ideal reader wants.
So when I find myself in the midst of a lack of inspiration, it’s usually because I’ve lost sight of the original story that I wanted to tell, and I’m trying to get into someone else’s head. This is where I have to rethink my story. I have to get back in the headspace I was when I started. And all that means is that I have to fall in love with writing again.
I’m slightly ashamed to admit that I have to get back in this headspace a lot. So, I take my laptop to bed with me and I curl up and write the way I did when I was 21 and I had a day off from my job as a server at a professional wrestling-themed BBQ restaurant in the parking lot of a Walmart. (True story, I won’t be telling it now though.) And I just let myself write. Sure, now that I’m old, my body hurts from typing in bed after a few hours. But it makes me remember why I wanted to be a writer in the first place, and that’s because I’m writing the way I did when I was younger and I didn’t really care about the audience.
008: Release creative energy another way.
Sometimes you just don’t have any words, and that’s okay.
I find that there are times when I can’t make myself write another word, and if I do, it will send me into a weird burn out tailspin. So, I do something else that’s creative. This can be anything, really. I have been known to play Dungeons and Dragons, which is a fun way to tell stories without all the pressure being on you. I will occasionally make friendship bracelets. (I’ve been doing this a lot lately.) I’ll doodle in my planner.
It doesn’t really matter what I do. I just pick something that keeps me expending pent-up creative energy, but isn’t writing.
Also, let’s be real. If you’re a writer, there are probably other ways you’ve been creative too during your life. Whether you draw, play music, dance, or sculpt, there are a lot of ways that you can create without writing. And sometimes, your brain needs that creative break to keep going.
009: Read outside your comfort zone.
This blog is a safe space to discuss all the things you enjoy. I won’t judge you. So know that when I’m telling you to read outside your comfort zone, it’s okay to admit to reading something that is highly frowned upon.
If you only read the same genre and same few writers, you aren’t going to get a lot of inspiration. But, if you read a broad mix of genre and literary fiction, as well as authors who you’ve never heard of before, then you’re going to find new ideas and new ways of looking at things.
I’m not telling you to rip off these other writers. I am telling you to refill your well in ways that you’ve never done before. This is why I admit to having learned stuff about writing from The Fast and the Furious movies. It’s also why I’m not ashamed to admit that romance novels are a great way to learn how to write better character interactions. (If you think you’re better than me because you don’t like romance novels, then you’re a misogynist, and I’m not going to walk that one back. We can have this discussion in the comments if you’d like.)
Don’t feel obligated to read classics (because they definitely wouldn’t be publishable today) or books that everyone else loves (because everyone is a watered down group). Read things with interesting blurbs or take a recommendation from a fellow writer of a different type.Don't feel obligated to read classics (because they definitely wouldn't be publishable today) or books that everyone else loves (because everyone is a watered down group). Click To Tweet
Lack of inspiration is usually a form of stagnation. And to prevent stagnation, you need to start doing things that you’ve never done before. So find inspiration from sources you’ve never read before.
How Do You Get Inspired to Write?
So, where do you find the passion to keep going? What things do you do that keep your spark of inspiration burning? What’s your favorite way to release creative energy other than writing? Tell me all your unexpected forms of inspiration!