Regardless of the type of writing that you do, you might have difficulties finding inspiration, at times. Writer’s block is so common that the term is mainstream, but feeling uninspired can have serious ramifications on your livelihood if you write for a living.
If you write marketing material or journalistic work, you might find it difficult to find the hook to your story. If you write fiction, you might find it difficult to round out a character or come up with the next plot sequence that will push your narrative forward.
Whatever type of writing you do, you need to find some techniques that will help you push past a lack of inspiration. Luckily, here are some techniques that work well regardless of the type of writing you do.
Read a Lot
Good writers will come up with beautiful and clever prose all on their own, but some of the best material often comes from a slight turn on what someone else has already done. That’s why you need to be constantly pushing yourself to learn more about your craft by reading what other people have already done with it.
Good writers are good readers, and you can learn a lot from your contemporaries and people who were writing decades or even hundreds of years before you. Study the way that other writers craft their dialogue or create headlines that grab readers’ attention.
One of the most important things you can do for your writing career is to form writing habits. It’s so easy to say that the muse hasn’t visited you, but you’ll often find that inspiration comes when you make writing a habit.
Create a writing schedule to keep yourself accountable, then analyze how often you write and which times of the day you’re most productive. Use this to best set yourself up for habitual success.
Do Not Edit
There’s a time to be critical about your writing, but when you’re first creating a draft, that’s not it. Instead, write the first draft as quickly as you can. The goal during the beginning stages is to merely get words on the page.
You can later go back and fix wordiness, add in more evocative language, or do whatever else is valued in your particular genre. The problem with editing right away is that you can be so critical of yourself that you shut down all your creativity before you’ve even put anything on the page. So, just get something on the screen.
Putting off editing is also a great technique to use if you’re participating in the annual Nanowrimo event that’s held every November. This is a challenge that can push and stretch your writing skills to a whole new level – but not if you obsess about editing!
Enter a Contest
If you need a fire under your tail, enter a contest. This is a great option for people who are writing as a part-time job or hobby and need some motivation to get something done by a certain time.
When you enter a contest, you’ll oftentimes have certain parameters that you need to follow, which can actually spur on creativity in a fresh way.
Take a Break
There’s a saying in writing that goes, “Worry it and walk away.” What this means is that you should look at your writing critically, but then you should give yourself a resting period so you can see it with fresh eyes.
You might decide that you need a couple of weeks away from a project so that you can see your writing from a fresh perspective. Or, you might decide that you only need half an hour before you can get into the editing stage.
Whatever you decide, a little bit of time can help you better understand the weaknesses of your writing and see what hidden gems just need to be polished.
Go On a Trip
There are several genres that benefit from rich, descriptive details. If you go on a trip, you might find that you’re inspired by the local cuisine and landscape. This can be great for certain types of journalism, poetry, memoir, and fiction.
When you’re on your trip, take special care to remember the smells and sights of the area. You can also carry a journal to help you stay aware.
Listen to Conversations
Many types of storytelling require you to be able to capture the way that people talk, so listen carefully to the way people express themselves in real life.
You’ll begin to notice colloquialisms, speech patterns, and other details that will make your dialogue and descriptions of human interactions feel more realistic.
Take a Class
There’s always more that you can learn from a professional writer who has years of experience. Take a class in your chosen genre, or you can take a class in another genre. Either way, you’ll continue to learn more than you would by yourself.
You might wonder why it’s worthwhile to take a class in a different genre. Most people who have dabbled in several genres will tell you that crossing over into another one will make you better at the first one. In short, practicing any kind of writing makes you a better writer.
Look at Art
There are numerous exercises that ask people to look at art as a starting point, and it makes sense. An artist made a piece of art to create a reaction, so it only makes sense that you would find inspiration by looking at pieces of art.
Set Small Goals
There are times to push yourself, but if you’re feeling like you’re lacking in inspiration, you might find that you’re taking on too much and scaring yourself out of even trying. Instead, start with small goals that are less intimidating.
Inspiration is Everywhere
Many people are afraid of writing or start off with more than what they can handle, and the muse, consequently, continues to elude them.
If you’re struggling with a lack of inspiration, incorporate a few of these techniques into your routine so you can start getting words on the page.
When you finally find your inspiration by turning off your right brain, you can also use these techniques to engage your analytical side to help you plan how to write a good book.
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