If you are struggling to get words onto the blank page, don't just sit there. Fill your creative well.
In this article, Ann Harrison-Barnes suggests ways in which you can find inspiration in your environment, whatever your creative challenges.
As a Christian fiction author and a professional writer who is blind, I often search for ways to find inspiration for my fiction.
I have to admit that sometimes I have a bad case of writer’s block, like other writers.
How do I throw writer’s block out the window? Here are five ways I find inspiration, even without being able to see the world around me.
(1) Inspiration through music
Although many people talk about finding a writing playlist, music for me is more than pure entertainment or background noise.
If you’re in the middle of a scene and you can’t come up with just the right element to keep your story moving forward, here’s a tip that might help you focus on your work.
Turn on your favorite radio station or your writing playlist. Personally, I use instrumental music, because music with lyrics can be a distraction.
Let the music resonate through your entire body and let your mind wander where the music takes you.
What ideas come to mind as you listen?
After the song or piece of music is over, pick up your mobile device, notepad and pen, or open a blank document in your word processor of choice, and jot down the tidbits that come to you. You may not be able to use them at the moment, but keep them for later use.
Even though you are a writer, do you also play a musical instrument? If you already have an instrument that you play, I have a suggestion for you. Why not sit down at your instrument, or pick it up and play whatever is in your heart.
As you improvise, let your instrument speak to you. I don’t know how to describe it, but when I play my Tibetan singing bowls or my Karimba, I just open my mind and let my thoughts flow.
Making your own music is just as powerful and inspirational, if not more so, than listening to recorded music, or attending a live concert.
(2) The music of your environment
This is how I turn the sounds of the world around me into fodder for inspiration. While you’re out for a walk, running errands, or just taking care of business, take a moment to truly listen to your environment.
If you’re driving to a specific destination, focus all your senses on the road and the traffic around you.
If you have a smart phone, tablet, or digital voice recorder, take down your thoughts for later use. You can also do this while sitting on your porch, after a long day at work, or running around with your family.
(3) Read, read, and read!
I know authors and marketing professionals have discussed this topic on webinars and podcasts, but I want to add my encouragement to all writers, from novices to full-time authors, and anywhere in between.
You don’t have to rely on print or eBooks only, you can also get audiobooks to listen to as you work. For me, I love to crochet while I listen to audiobooks. I read a lot of books in my genre, but I also read other books, to find that little nugget of inspiration, when I am suffering from writers' block.
I also read a couple of magazines in Braille, for information and inspiration. I’ve heard it said that you can’t be a great writer without being an avid reader first.
(4) Find other sources of inspiration
Although I stress the importance of reading to become a better writer, there are other sources of entertainment and information you can use for inspiration.
Many people mention that they become inspired by movies. Although I can agree with that to a certain extent, you don’t have to limit yourself to this medium only. Personally, I’ve found inspiration through my favorite classic TV shows.
TV shows and movies aren’t the only sources of inspiration I’ve found. If you can find an app or a website that has links to free audio recordings, such as classic radio shows.
I strongly urge you to take advantage of these inspirational sources, because something that a character says or a description of a scene can lead to an idea that you can’t let go of.
Listening to podcasts is another great source of information and inspiration. Since my husband gave me his iPad, I have found some wonderful writing podcasts that are informative and inspiring.
I must put in a plug for The Creative Penn podcast, because I found some valuable nuggets of information that I can use for my own writing business. No matter what your favorite podcasts are, I’m sure you can find some tidbits of inspiration that get your creative juices flowing.
(5) Engage with like-minded people
Here’s a tip that I think all writers can use in their writing process. Find a writers group, or a critique partner or group to help you fine-tune your writing before you get published. The more you can tweak your writing, the more likely others will read it.
Sometimes writers can inspire each other, so connecting through email or social media is a good way to “talk shop” with people who are walking the same writing road as you are.
You and your writing friends can encourage each other on your career path, and your mentors can hold you accountable for a project you are working on, so you can get it finished and into the hands of readers.
Although there are hundreds, possibly thousands of ways to find inspiration, these are a few of the methods that personally work for me. I hope that you can find one or more of these little tips helpful in your own writing.
How do you find inspiration for your creative work? Please leave your thoughts below and join the conversation.
Aside from her work as a Christian fiction author, Ann is a professional writer and she also crochets bookmarks and book covers to promote her books. To learn more about Ann and her work, visit her website, AnnWritesInspiration.com.