Simple Tips for Inspiration to Write

It’s a new year so I’m sure most of us have made resolutions to do something with our writing. Get it finished, get it published. 

Get it started. 

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of Christmas chocolate left over, it’s hard to restart after a break, and it’s still getting dark in the middle of the day. So how do you get inspiration to write?

cat beside cookies and milk on a kitchen counter

When it’s a struggle to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. It can be like trying to squeeze out the last bit of toothpaste from a nearly empty tube – frustrating and often fruitless. (I know I should cut it from the bottom but I never do). 

That’s why today I’ve got lots of tips and tricks to get those creative juices flowing, so you can unleash your inner Shakespeare (or at least write another Instagram caption). So without further ado, let’s look at how to get inspiration to write.

Getting in the right frame of mind

What may at first seem like a lack of inspiration is often sometimes just that you’re not in the right frame of mind to work. Procrastination, often seen as the bane of productivity, can actually be a surprising ally. Instead of battling against it, I’ve learned to use it to my advantage.

It’s about allowing yourself the freedom to take a step back and let thoughts breathe. Sometimes it can lead to the best inspiration. The trick here is not to feel guilty for getting less done than you planned.

Woman looking off to the side, waiting for inspiration to write with an open notebook on a table in front of her

This is tough but consider it your brain trying to tell you something. If every day is a whirlwind of activity and you one day you just can’t get going? there may be a reason.

Take the hint and rest.

I’ve found that moments of procrastination often give rise to the most unexpected and unique ideas. Give yourself a little bit of space and let your mind wander; It can be a great source of inspiration.  

Create a stimulating environment

When it comes to finding writing inspiration, having a stimulating environment can make a huge difference. This doesn’t always mean having a clutter-free space; mementoes, pictures, or a little bit of chaos can be inspiring. However, sometimes a proper spring clean can provide the mental refreshment needed to spark new ideas. 

Changing your environment, whether a new coffee shop, a different room, or even rearranging your workspace, can be surprisingly inspiring. Fill your space with anything you want, artwork, quotes, souvenirs- the main thing is that you’re inspired by it all and not distracted. 

Personal experiences

Your own life can be a great source of inspiration.

Life is full of little moments and conversations that we often overlook or forget about. We often think nothing’s ‘happened’ to us. But everyone has their own story, and the little details that seem mundane, make it interesting.

laptop beside notebook open to a blank page on a table with a pen

Keep a journal and write them down, it’s good practice but also fuel for making a deep connection with your writing. Try revisiting an old memory and zeroing in on the details even if it’s just about cringy fashion choices from your teenage years. (A lot of tie-dye. Don’t ask).  It all makes for great writing material and it’s authentic too.

Embrace the cringe I say, and turn it into literary gold. Bronze at the very least.

Downworthy

Sick of all those Upworthy headlines? You know the type, “This 90-year-old woman drank turnip juice for a week, you won’t believe what happened next!”

Or “This child ate a banana, when his mother realised she phoned the Police”. Well, Downworthy is a great little Chrome extension that replaces those ridiculous clickbait headlines with more realistic ones. Try it, it’s funny.

How does this inspire the craft of writing you may ask?

Well, one, it’ll stop you from getting suckered in by clickbait when you’re meant to be working and two, it engages the brain.  It has an off switch which is fortunate because it will change the text of everything, so be careful.

It is helpful if you’re writing blog posts in that it challenges you to find a better way to say what you’re trying to say without the bombastic language (guiltily not looking at my older post titles).

Try it, for it is EPIC unexceptionally mundane.

Inspiration to write outside

woman sitting outside at a table with a notebook on her knee

Seems a bit obvious, doesn’t it? New sights and sounds etc. This might be a cliche but I feel most inspired when I’m outside in nature. I noticed this after the Long Winter of No Writing. I was outside on the the first spring day, a brisk chill still in the air, and steam rising from a hot cup of coffee, while I wrote more than I had all year. Nature has a way of awakening creativity. 

Also,

Go for a walk

Going for a brisk walk can work like a reset button for your mind. It’s amazing how a bit of physical activity can give your thoughts the space they need.

walking pair of blue trainers on a bridge

You’re also more adept at taking in information when your body is moving. Once an idea is sparked, that train of thought is just going to continue. And thanks to muscle memory, it’s also a great way to learn lines or remember things from audiobooks and podcasts. 

It may seem simple, but getting some fresh air and exercise can help clear your mind and provide new inspiration. 

Read something different

We all have our favourite books, the novels or writers we come back to again and again. They’re comforting, they’re nostalgic and you know what you’re going to get. For me, books become souvenirs, reminders of times past, places I’ve been and things I’ve seen. Not just because of the fictional world within their pages but because of where I was or what was happening in real life when I read them.

A person reading in bed with book covering her face

Books can be a kind of time capsule.

That said, If you stick to comfort reads and familiar genres you’ll never challenge your mind. We need to keep feeding ourselves inspiration. Different genres and authors are uncharted territories that can help expand your own creativity and provide fresh angles for your writing. The more varied and eclectic your reading habits, the more diverse your pool of inspiration becomes.

Embrace technology

You can always try some writing tools. Scrivener, for instance – will help you piece together your plots and characters and I’m also still using Evernote to collect fresh ideas. If you’re an Apple person, try Ulysses. Then there’s Twine, which lets you craft your own choose-your-adventure tales, putting you in control of the narrative’s twists and turns. Oh, and dare I say it…have you met ChatGPT?

Unplug and reconnect

If the mention of the dreaded GPT above isn’t your thing may I suggest a good old pen and a notebook with just the right paper weight?

When you detach from the screen, your mind is free to wander, unburdened by the constant hum of notifications, clickbait and endless scrolling. Sometimes we need a digital detox.

There are apps that can tell you all about your habits and screen time (because there’s an app for everything). But just noticing and being deliberate about not reaching for your phone is a good way of showing you how often you reach for your phone.

When you step away and unplug something interesting happens.

woman's hands writing in an open notebook beside a cup of coffee in a blue cup

After a while, you’re not checking social media anymore or looking for YouTube videos to watch. In the peace these moments create, inspiration has the space to find its way to the surface in unexpected places – a casual conversation, or a stroll.

You notice things you might not have done before.

Just as a watched kettle never boils, an over-attentive mind might stifle the creativity it seeks to nurture.

So, thank you for reading this post, but take a break from the digital cacophony and give yourself time to think. Plenty of ideas will flow when you return to the writing desk.

Use your non-dominant hand

Now this one is a little strange and possibly not that effective.

The idea is to write with your non-dominant hand and ignore the terrible handwriting in favour of allowing your subconscious to take control.

The non-dominant hand is associated with the non-dominant hemisphere of the brain. By writing this way, you may tap into hidden thoughts, emotions, and ideas that you may not have accessed through your dominant hand. It forces the brain to work in a new way, and in theory, sparks new connections and great ideas.

Now, granted, I didn’t try this for long because it’s enormously frustrating. I found that if you heighten the awareness of the act of writing all you get is a heightened awareness of the act of writing. I’m trying so hard to make my hand write words that the deeper connection doesn’t happen.

It did slow me down though. Jury’s still out on whether that’s a good thing or whether the ideas get lost because I’m not keeping up with them.

A pen writing in a lined notebook

Try it yourself and see if it gives you more creative inspiration.

Observe things 

Choose a random object and build story ideas around it.

I tried this one in a songwriting workshop a few years ago. The random object was a plastic water bottle and the idea was to improvise a song on the spot about the bottle. I don’t remember much about it except it went something along the lines of  “You’re cold as ice but I can see right through you….”

Less said about that the better but you get the idea.

The objects around you could one day live in the worlds that you build. 

Observe people 

People doing everyday things are interesting.

Everyone has foibles and quirks, ways of moving, styling their hair and turns of phrase. If you want a masterclass in how to write dialogue, go to a coffee shop and people-watch for a while. Are they moving, gesturing, drinking?

Incidentally, it’ll make you a better actor too if you also happen to do that. Maybe don’t stare though or you’ll creep people out. 

Classical music for writing inspiration

While the famed Mozart Effect might not be quite the golden ticket to increased intelligence that had every mum-to-be putting Sennheisers on their baby bumps back in the 90s, It can be a clever tool for sparking creativity in your writing.

Particularly this. Get into the groove and watch your fingers fly across the keys while Mozart makes you think you’re a genius.

No one’s actually tested it on latent middle-aged creative types as far as I know.

The intricacy of Mozart’s music in particular is great for free writing as you can probably tell from all these run-on sentences – I can’t stop. At least it gets you writing.

Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major is golden. It may also make you feel you should probably put the quill away as the carriage is waiting to take you to the Netherfield ball.

It’s not just Mozart or Classical music though, all genres have the power to stimulate the imagination and create vivid mental imagery.

a pair of headphones on top of a notebook on a bed

Listen to a different genre of music

Different types of music can offer a new perspective and help to immerse you in a writing session. Or you can fall down a YouTube rabbit hole watching hip-hop fans react to ABBA.

Yup.

It’s entertaining, but you will lose time.

Listening to different genres of music can inspire writers in different ways. You might find you have a new emotional response, or be inspired by a lyric that might lead to a new story. You might produce something completely different because you’re in a different mood. The atmosphere of a piece of music might inspire new story worlds. 

Or you could end up with ABBA stuck in your brain.

Binaural beats

While we’re on the subject of different sounds, If all you want to do is concentrate on the first draft, I recommend this focus music channel. It works through the concept of entrainment, which means training your brain to reach a certain mental state by matching the frequency.

Person at laptop with headphones near a window

With Binaural beats, you’re training yourself to reach those levels of deep concentration and alertness that make you stay on task. While there’s not a ton of evidence that this works, blocking out distracting noise, gives you a much better chance of getting into a flow state.

Overall, music can help. Binaural beats are completely safe and if they might improve mood, motivation, and concentration, it’s worth a shot.

Freewriting

I mentioned this above but it’s a great technique when you’re staring at a blank page and you don’t know where to start. The idea is to set a timer for 10-15 minutes and write continuously without stopping to edit.

Freewriting is exactly that. It helps to bypass self-censorship; your ideas may be incoherent but at least they’re free of your judgy brain.

If you really can’t get going, word association is a good starting point. Off the top of your head think of anything that connects to the subject you want to write about. Then jump into a free write when an idea sparks to life.

Establishing a writing routine

I know you’re probably fed up with hearing this one, but it does actually make a difference.

I’m not a particular fan of morning pages mainly because I’m not a fan of mornings. My best ideas tend to happen in the evening or wake me up at 3 am if I’ve ignored them.

Probably why the mornings are a problem.

Anyway, establishing a strict writing schedule puts you into creative inspiration mode. It also signals to your brain that it’s time to focus and get on with it. After a while, this can lead to a natural flow of different ideas making it easier to overcome writer’s block and find inspiration for your writing.

Cup of hot chocolate in a white cup on a table side an open diary, gold watch and bulldog clips

Also, try allocating specific tasks to different days of the week. For instance, designate one day for brainstorming and outlining, another for writing a first draft (if you can get that far), and a different day for revisions.

The theory here is that if you know exactly what you’re going to do in your next writing session, you’re more likely to be inspired to do it.

You’re making it manageable.

Plot elements

Ok.

There are many places where you could look this up and find useful, much more authoritative information than this little blog (higher in the rankings too). I’m guessing you’ve probably already been through most of them.

If not here’s a brief summary of what online course provider, Masterclass (and Google) recommend: generate good ideas, start with a premise, conflict, and structure, and write stuff down. I’m oversimplifying but the main advice seems to be, work out your plot by… working out your plot. 

So I’ll just tell you how I navigate this.

person writing on brown wooden table near white ceramic mug

It’s a bit like learning to blog properly, take on all the advice, and use what works. Eventually, you’ll find the best way forward for yourself. For me, it’s writing little vignettes of people doing not much. Playing around with scenes and characters that I keep free writing with until they form into something.

Coming up with an initial sentence for a premise is surprisingly hard, but if you can find something either in your brain or in the headlines, you can flesh it out with the snowflake method. It’s a great technique but can seem a bit daunting if you’re new to it.

But then so is writing anything…

​Finally

Finding inspiration to write is all about exploring, and embracing creativity in different forms. Whether it’s taking a walk, reading a lot, or simply people-watching (subtly), there are tons of ways to get inspired to write. So go ahead and jump in, you never know where the writing process is going to take you. Let me know how it goes!

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