Saturday, August 13, 2011

16 Ways to Find Inspiration to Write: A Guest Post by Jen (The DiVine Writer)

There’s something lurking around that haunts every single writer out there. Possibly every single college student dreads it as well. But everyone has had it at least once in their life and no one likes to talk about it. It’s called:
Writer’s Block!
I get writer’s block. A lot. I can guarantee that any writer, young or old, has had writer’s block during any part of the writing process. Some writers have an idea and don’t know where to begin. Some, like myself, get so far into their work that sometimes they get to a point where they can’t go any further because they’ve run out of ideas.

Here are my top 16 ways to find inspiration that you’ve lost:

Number 16: (If you're not religious, skip to number 15.)  Prayer always works. Saint Anthony is the patron saint of lost things. If you aren’t religious or you don’t want to pray to God or to Mary, Saint Anthony is a great saint to talk to if you're looking for something! Believe me, he works in mysterious ways. Once, I misplaced my sandals right before a vacation and I offered up a prayer to Saint Anthony and the day before we left I found my sandals!

If you’re looking for more inspiration to write, say this prayer to St. Lucy:
“Saint Lucy, you did not hide your light under a basket, but let it shine for the whole world, for all the centuries to see. We may not suffer torture in our lives the way you did, but we are still called to let the light of our Christianity illumine our daily lives. Please help us to have the courage to bring our Christianity into our work, our recreation, our relationships, our conversation, and every corner of our day. Amen.”

Number 15: And this works hand in hand with prayer. Immerse yourself in nature. God’s creation. Take a hike up a trail, go to a lake, somewhere where you can clear your head and start fresh. Don’t think about your book, poem, or short story. Somewhere along the line you should get an idea.
Number 14: Try something new. Get your hands dirty with a pottery class. Get a new job. Take a road trip. Anything that will get you out of your writing funk.

Number 13: Write anything. Simply anything that doesn’t have to do with your work in progress, something that you wrote might trigger a new idea that might launch you forward with your story!
Number 12: Keep a writing journal, and write in it. Every day. Freewrite. Even if it’s just words, or even doodles, something might pop out at you. And just do it, even if your drawings are horrible.
Number 11: Travel to the library and pick out a book on Ancient Rome. Or the history of dance in Australia. Or the inner workings of a winery. You might find out that President Lincoln had a dog named Castle when he was younger (which he didn’t because I just made that up) or that a young Meriwether Lewis wanted to be a magician when he grew up (which probably didn’t happen because I also made that up.)
You can find a lot of things to write about in a history book. Even if it’s one little thing. My next WIP will be about a girl who is a descendant of Calvin Coolidge and she finds out a secret that no one else in the family knows about, one that could have changed history.
Number 10: Life experiences, whether yours or someone else’s. If something that happened to you was prominent or influential in your life then reflect on those life-changing experiences and write about that. Picture a character who will be going through the same incidents and go from there!
Number 9: Quotes from past writers had given me inspiration in the past. My favorite writer to go to is Jane Austen. I would kill to write like she wrote. If I had one author that I could write like it would be her. I love the way she wrote her stories.

Number 8: Writing groups work. Even if you are meeting other writers online, this will work. Every writer can bounce ideas off of each other. Who knows? Someone might suggest something that you never even thought of regarding your story.
Number 7: Music. There are many different genres and types of music. I don’t really have a certain type of music I get inspiration from, but I do know that classical, piano, or new age music relaxes me when I’m writing, and it opens up my mind as I’m typing on my laptop.
Number 6: Travel. This is hard if you’re pressed for time and short on cash. If you can afford to travel or if you’re writing on vacation or if you’re just discovering a new place where you live, it can certainly be one of the best kinds of inspirations because it opens your eyes in a new way of seeing things.
Number 5: Observing other people around you can be a good way to get that little light bulb above your head to turn on. Go to the park, or a shopping mall, a place where you can go to observe people and what they do.
Number 4: Surfing the Internet. Self-explanatory. Always works for me. If you’re writing about gymnastics, search for a famous or well-known gymnast and read a bio or watch videos on the subject.
Number 3: Pictures. Any pictures will do. From a magazine. A movie poster. A photo album. Take your own pictures with your camera! That picture of the Navy guy kissing that girl right after World War II in Times Square? AHA! New story idea!

Number 2: Television shows and movies. Entertainment is very influential on books. The first I’ve heard that a book was written because of a movie was The Last Song, by Nicholas Sparks. It’s written on his website that he wrote the screenplay before he wrote the novel!  Plus many current television shows that have been made have been based on books as well.

Or you can take a character from a movie or television show and base your book off of that character or set your book in the same fictional town as your current favorite show or movie! My current book, The Ranch at Lake Aurelia, was written because I loved two television series, Wildfire and Heartland. It has a love triangle like Wildfire did, and the love of horses like the series Heartland as well as Wildfire.  The piece I’m developing now is a romantic adventure, and it’s similar to the movie National Treasure.
You can base your characters and settings off of something you’ve seen before, just change the storyline. I’d love to hear some ideas from other writers as well.
Number 1: Books are my number one source of inspiration for writing. I was always told, if you pick a genre of books you like to write, you should start reading more books in that genre. It has inspired me to base character names off of other names in other books I’ve read, as well as other ideas! After I’ve finished a book, I’ve always wondered why I haven’t thought of that idea or a specific thought that an author has written. Sometimes, I’ve thought that I could write a story based on a secondary character.
Even though books are there to entertain, they are also a source of reference as well. Referring back to number 10, if you visit a historical place, for example, you should gather as much information on the place you’re visiting if you want to plot a story and place it in the setting that you’re in. Plus, take a notebook and do some writing there. Take notes about how you feel sitting in the place you’re in, so that you can refer back to it and remember that place when you start writing.
In conclusion, if you’re stuck in a hole and you can’t think of anything else to write, and you’re freaking out because you’re on deadline and you have writer’s block, fear not. A writer can overcome writer’s block, and can gain inspiration pretty much anywhere they go.

A huge thank you  to Paige for letting me guest post on the blog! I'll be sure to reciprocate!

This is a picture of Jen with her
friend Ashley. Jen is on the right.
Jen Cilia is a writer and a book blogger. With a love of reading, she also loves to watch classic movies. Her favorite writer is Jane Austen. Even though she loves to write about horses, she does not like riding them. She is currently re-writing her novel The Ranch at Lake Aurelia, and plotting her next novel, tentatively titled Tabitha Coolidge and the President’s Secret. She loves to get fan mail, and please direct any questions to her email, She can also be found on Twitter and can also be found blogging at The DiVine Writer.


Dia said...

Great post! I have done almost all of those things to help me. When I went to Vegas a few months ago I knew that I had to write something about that place. Sad in the airport for two days (that's a whole nother story...) and got a lot of writing in. And a piece of the story had to do with Vegas!

Travel and music both work for me a lot. Usually I write with music, but sometimes I don't.

Also books, your number one. When I get tired or run out of ideas, I shut the computer down and start to read. Not to steal their ideas of course, but to get my brain running and on other things.

Totally right! GREAT POST, once again!

The Divine Writer said...

Thanks Dia! I loved writing this. I always have classical music playing when I write. I can't write with regular music with words because I start to sing along and not concentrate.

And I love to get my inspiration from telvision and books! :)

alaw said...

Thank you thank you thank you so much! That was an awesome post!

The problem is, when I ask people for ideas, nobody ever answers (on blogger)! :(

Anonymous said...

Great suggestions! Writer's block is a HUGE annoyance, but these are good ideas to get out of it. ;) And actually, it was people-watching that gave me the inspiration for my current work-in-progress, so that's definitely a good tip! :D

Great post, Jen!

The Divine Writer said...

@alaw: Well then you need to look elsewhere! A friend, a family member, maybe even go to the library or a bookstore. Write a list of questions and strike up a conversation with someone who is looking around for books at the bookstore. Join twitter. There are a lot of writers on twitter. and I've found a lot of publishing companies on there as well! It's amazing what twitter has done for my writing! :) (Truthfully, no one ever answers my blog posts when I'm looking for ideas as well.)

@TaylorLynn: Thanks! :) Good luck with your WIP!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Jen! :)

Aalya Rain said...

i've gotten writers block before. and have it now. i usually use music to get me back into my grove because sometimes music helps me set a tone. poetry helps to. i write fantasy 2. how wierd is that. :)

The Divine Writer said...

Good point, too! Poetry might work as well. I don't write poetry myself, but it might get the brain moving!

Paige said...

Ugh, I'm stuck with writers block right now and it's TERRIBLE! Great post and information! I get a lot of my inspiration from books too!

Thanks so much for posting Jen! :D