Elusive Inspiration

As I’m meeting more writers and delving into the writing community, I’m getting this question a lot: “Where do you get your inspiration/ideas from?”

It’s a pretty broad question and one that’s difficult for me to answer. Ideas just seem to pop into my head at any given moment, not necessarily prompted by any one thing. But as I thought about it more and more, I realised that I’ve done many things throughout my life to stimulate my imagination. At this point, all of those things are just brewing in the back of my mind constantly and produce ideas at random.

So for anyone out there who’s struggling with inspiration, I believe there are some things you can do to get that imagination running. Here are things I’ve done throughout my life that have inspired my story ideas!

Read

This is absolutely number one for any writer. If you want to be a writer, you have to read a lot. Seeing other people’s ideas will help you generate some of your own. The point is not to copy another’s idea, of course, but to take elements that you do or don’t like from a book and figure out how to perfect them to fit your own story. That’s why you want to make sure to specifically read a lot in the genre you’re writing!

In addition, reading exercises and feeds your imagination like nothing else. Movies and TV shows are okay, but when you read a book, your imagination fills in everything that you can’t physically see. And obviously, the more you exercise and feed something, the better it will perform over time.

Travel

I’ve only been to three different countries apart from my own, but those new experiences—and even the travels I’ve done within the U.S.—have given me all sorts of new ideas over the years.

I believe that in order to truly be a phenomenal writer, you must see new places and meet new people, ideally from cultures other than yours. The world that we live in is truly incredible! If you set out to explore even a fraction of it, you’ll find amazing things that you would have never even dreamed of. New landscapes, food, structures, cultures, histories, and people can add an untold amount of fuel to the inspiration fire.

If you stay where you are, you are limited by what you know on a day to day basis. Even research online doesn’t really cut it. But when you go somewhere new and experience it, you’ll be amazed at what a difference it makes.

Find the Right Place

What I mean by this is: find where you thrive. If you do some self-reflection, you’ll realise that there are times when you have more ideas than normal. Where are you when that happens? How are you feeling? What is the atmosphere like? If you can recreate that experience often, you may find that you get a lot more ideas.

For example, I discovered a long time ago that I get the most ideas when I’m on a long walk in nature by myself (ideally when it’s cold outside!). So if I’m struggling to come up with ideas, I go on a walk. Ninety-nine percent of the time, it works!

So find that place that gives you inspiration, somewhere you can go back to whenever you need to have a good think.

Do Something New

As I said before, if you want to be a great writer, you can’t be comfortable just doing the same thing all the time. In order to write about new experiences, you first need to have new experiences yourself! If you’re really stuck finding inspiration and/or generating ideas, you may want to think about what you’ve been doing recently. Have you basically just done the same routine day after day? If so, it’s time to change things up!

Try reading a new genre. Go visit an art museum. Explore a significant place or monument in your community. Cook something new. It can really be anything, but try something different! The more experiences you have, the more you have to draw from when it comes time to write.

In the end, if you’re having trouble with inspiration, it’s not the end of the world! It’s something that all writers struggle with at times. But introduce a new element into your day every now and again and I can guarantee you that those gears in your brain will start turning!


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